The Belizean PM who wanted to be a priest

BY RICKEY SINGH Observer Caribbean correspondent

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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BELIZEANS, as well as other nationals of the Caribbean Community, continue to reflect on the endearing leadership qualities of George Cadle Price, first prime minister of that Caricom country and first national hero who was given a State Funeral on September 26.


He died in hospital on September 19 following surgery for a head wound suffered from a fall at home, just four months short of his 93rd birthday.


Price's stout reputation as a tireless champion for Belize's independence from Britain and, regionally, "the gentleman politician" who was firmly opposed to corruption and abuse of political power, has been well established beyond the shores of his native Belize, the Caricom nation located in Central America.


Ian Randle, owner of the internationally known Jamaica-based Ian Randle Publishers (IRP), is among Caribbean nationals quite familiar with the life and times of the late Belizean leader. Not surprisingly, therefore, he had no problems publishing Price's "authorised biography" by Godfrey Smith, a former foreign minister of Belize.


When he passed through Barbados last week, Randle shared with this columnist some of his reflections on the late Belizean leader and also the assessment of what the author has produced between the covers of George Price — A Life Revealed, which is to be published later this month.


Randle wrote that the late distinguished editor of The Gleaner, Theodore Sealey, once described Price as "an enigma, a man versed in dialectical argument but with no clearly defined positive nationalism for British Honduras" (the former colony for which he had fought the British to become the independent nation of Belize).


Guatemala connection


During that period Price was also accused by his political opponents of having participated in secret negotiations for the transfer of British Honduras from British sovereignty to some form of association with neighbouring Guatemala which, to this day, persists with its territorial claim over a part of Belize.


Based on Smith's forthcoming book, Randle writes of Price — who was an ascetic, a stoic, reclusive with few friends — that he was a man who never married or raised a family; had pursued studies to be a Catholic priest; and who, up to his death, had remained a celibate. He prepared his own meals, lived in the same house and maintained a humble lifestyle, even amid his rising popularity as prime minister and subsequently declared status of national hero.


Much as Price dominated Belizean politics for over half a century, and following his retirement from active politics, few of even his close political allies had a true understanding of the man and politician, George Price.


With the objective of presenting an authentic profile, Godfrey Smith, a former close colleague, succeeded in 2009 to get Price's consent to produce his authorised biography.


This, incidentally, would be the latest publication by Ian Randle Publishers, that just recently released Women in Caribbean Politics, a collection of informative essays edited by Cynthia Barrow-Giles, professor of political science at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus.


Soon to be reviewed will be Delano Franklyn's The Jamaican Diaspora with a variety of contributions focused on the valuable social, economic and cultural ties of Jamaicans living and working abroad with their homeland.


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