Belize mourns death its first PM

Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow has declared a week of mourning in honor of George Price, the country’s first prime minister, who died at hospital on Sept. 19 and will be buried on Sept. 26.

Price, 92, the leader Emeritus of the People’s United Party (PUP), died at the Belize Healthcare Partners Hospital a few days after he underwent emergency surgery after he suffered a fall at his home on Sept. 14.

Barrow described Price as “a giant of a man, the greatest architect of Belizean nationalism and Belizean sovereignty” and that a “diplomatic note had been sent out “to inform the world of Mr. Price’s passing.”

Barrow said that the government in collaboration with the family of the late former prime minister is making arrangements for a state funeral to take place on Sept. 26. Until that time, flags in Belize are being flown at half mast.

“On behalf of a grateful nation to which Mr. Price devoted his entire life, I offer condolences to his immediate and extended family and to the People’s United Party,” the prime minister said.

Price, who was born on Jan. 15, 1919, entered politics in 1947 after he was successful in winning a seat on the Belize City Council.

Three years later, he co-founded the People’s United Party (PUP) which he led for four decades.

In 1981, Belize gained its independence, and Price served as the country’s first prime minister and foreign minister until 1984.

After the PUP’s defeat in the 1984 election by the United Democratic Party (UDP) headed by Manuel Esquivel, he led the PUP to victory in 1989 serving as prime minister until 1993, when he was again replaced by Esquivel.

In 1982, Price became a member of the London-based Privy Council, and in 1996 he announced his resignation as party leader. He was succeeded by Said Musa.

In September 2000, Price became the first person to receive Belize’s highest honor, the Order of National Hero, for the prominent role he played in leading his country to independence.

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