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Volume No: 
546

By Angel Nuñez

The people who founded San Pedro in 1848, Mestizos for the most part, lived on this island quite unaware of British rule for just over 100 years up to about 1950.  At that time the people of Belize on a whole were poor, hungry, and depressed by their economic situation. However, San Pedro enjoyed a vibrant Mestizo community with sufficient jobs in the coconut industry and a vibrant subsistence fishing industry.   But countrywide the question persisted: “Why should Britain get richer and the colony poorer?” was the general sentiment. The struggle of the workers led by Soberanis played an important part in the birth to the spirit that Belize should be governed by Belizeans.  This gave rise to the Nationalist Movement and Belizeans began to question colonialism and think about their own rights.

In 1950 the PUP was born under such leaders as George Price, Philip Goldson, and Leigh Richardson.  People began to question what colonialism had done for Belize. They began to wonder why a country with so many resources, with such wealthy landowners and merchants, had so many poor people. The poor economic and social conditions in the 1950's also helped them begin to think about self-government and independence.

The People's Committee formed the very night the Belize dollar was devalued. What started as a protest against devaluation became a general assault against the entire colonial system. On September 29, 1950 the People's Committee became the People's United Party (PUP). Its objective was "to gain for the people of this country political independence and economic independence."

George Cadle Price talking with humble mestizo people in Belize

Although the PUP emphasized change in the economic conditions, their main effort was to challenge the colonial political system. They demanded political power for the people, and this required constitutional change. First the people had to be given the right to vote.

The PUP, with the strong support of the people, won universal adult suffrage or the right to vote in 1954. In elections held that year it won eight of the nine elected seats and 67 per cent of the vote. In the following years, Belizeans went on to win increased participation through new constitutions.  In 1964, ten years after adult suffrage, Belizeans gained self-government when George Price became the first Premier of Belize.

It was after self government that political awareness came to San Pedro. With nine ministerial posts in George Price’s Government, Louis “Cuz”Sylvestre came to San Pedro and set up the electoral process to become the first Area Representative of Belize Rural South.  There must have been perhaps less than 100 voters and I do not even know who the opposition candidate was but if he got five votes, that was plenty.  Since then we have participated with increased vigor each time up until the swearing in of the eleventh House of Representatives in 2009.  This year we shall be installing the 12th National Assembly for Belize and our participation will be just over six thousand.

Belize gaining self-government when George Price became the first premier of Belize

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarious Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush -Richies Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery

Contact the Author at: [email protected]

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