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Belizean National Heroes

George Cadle Price


George Cadle Price, born January 15, 1919, was the first Prime Minister of Belize and is considered alongside Monrad Metzgen as one of the principal architects of that country's independence. Born in Belize City, he entered politics in 1947 with his election to the Belize City Council. Three years later, on September 29, 1950, he co-founded the People's United Party, which he led for four decades and which was devoted to the political and economic independence of the British colony, then known as British Honduras.

Price was never educated further than St. John's College High School (SJC did not have a sixth form until the 1960s.) While there, however, he was exposed to the teachings of Catholic social justice, in particular the encyclical Rerum Novarum. Upon graduation, Price attached himself to local businessman Jeff Dunham as his private secretary. He also rallied a few SJC graduates, some of them later members of the PUP, to contest elections in 1944 and 1947 for the local Town Board, being successful in 1947. Price also contributed to the Belize Billboard, then run by Phillip Goldson.

Price, upon the formation of the PC in 1950, was named its Assistant Secretary, and in a famous speech later that year claimed that "National Unity" propelled the PC's actions. With the formation of the PUP Price's stature rose and he ascended through the party ranks until he became leader following a dispute in 1956.

Elected to the colony's Legislative Council in 1954, he also served as mayor of Belize City from 1956 to 1962. In 1956 became also leader of the PUP. As First Minister, a post he held since 1961, he led the team which began negotiations over independence with Great Britain. He maintained that post as premier in 1964.

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 elections by the United Democratic Party under Manuel Esquivel, he resumed the post of prime minister in 1989, serving until 1993, when he was again replaced by Esquivel.

In 1982, Price became a member of the United Kingdom's Privy Council. In October 1996 he announced his resignation as party leader, and on November 10, 1996, he was formally succeeded by Said Musa.
In September 2000, Price became the first person to receive Belize's highest honour, the Order of National Hero, for the prominent role he played in leading his country to independence. He has received similar honors in the other Caribbean and Central American countries.
Source: L - VF Biography 9 @ National Heritage Library - National Collection.


Phillip S.W. Goldson


Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson was a Belizean newspaper editor, activist, and politician. He served in the House of Representatives of Belize as a member of the Albert Division from 1961 to 1998 and twice as a Minister. He was a founding member of the People's United Party (PUP), National Independence Party (NIP), United Democratic Party (UDP) and National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR).

Goldson was born in Belize City on July 25, 1923, to Peter Edward Goldson and Florence Babb and attended St. Mary's Primary School. Although he never had an opportunity to go to high school he studied at night and succeeded in obtaining the Cambridge University Overseas Junior Certificate in 1939 and the Senior School Certificate in 1941. For much of the early 1940s, he participated in the Open Forum movement featuring George Price and Leigh Richardson as well as older activists such as Clifford Betson and Antonio Soberanis. But his main job was as editor of the Belize Billboard, which he took up in 1941. (Source: Channel 5, September 19, 2001)

From 1941 to 1947, he worked in the British Honduras Civil Service, at the same time started his journalism career doing editing work at the "Civil Service Chronicle". With the advent of the Nationalist Movement, he wrote news items for the Belize Billboard. The plight of the workers in Belize led him into trade unionism. He became the National Organizer of The General Workers Union in 1949, later becoming its General Secretary.

In 1950, Belize's first major political party, the PUP, was formed under John Smith as leader. Goldson was named Assistant Secretary, working under George Price. He continued to edit the Billboard and kept it running as a daily newspaper until its offices were destroyed in the late 1960s.

In 1951 both Goldson and Leigh Richardson were convicted of Seditious Intention based on an extract from the Belize Billboard, which stated, "There are two roads to self-government (Independence). Evolution and Revolution, we are now trying evolution." The Colonial Government held that the words imputed intention to try revolution if evolution did not succeed. They were sentenced to one year's hard labour. While in prison he taught his fellow inmates to read and write.

In 1956, he resigned from his post along with nine others, citing Price's ambitious moves within the party hierarchy. They would never work together again. Before going to jail for his ideals Mr. Goldson won a seat to the Belize City Council and had served as Vice-President (Deputy Mayor) until his conviction. Once free he went back gladly to public life and in 1954 won a seat in the British Honduras Legislative Council where he was appointed member (quasi-Minister) for Social Services, a post he served with dignity until 1957 when his political career hit a snag. His portfolio included Labour, Housing and Planning, Health, Education and Social Welfare and Community Development. During this period, he coordinated the building of Corozal Town after its destruction in 1955 by Hurricane Janet.

Goldson pioneered the Village Council system, enacted a new Education Ordinance making Primary Education free, granting government assistance to secondary schools for the first time and initiated special allowance for retired teachers who up to then did not enjoy pension benefits, confirmed Belize as contributing member of the U.W.I., also established Department of Housing and Planning with Henry C. Fairweather as its first Director and Town Planner, and revised Government Workers Rules establishing the check-off system for trade unions.

On Election Day 1954, he married Hadie Jones. Phillip Goldson fathered 6 children.

Goldson joined Leigh Richardson under the Honduran Independence Party and contested the 1957 election unsuccessfully. He failed again as a member of the National Independence Party in 1961 but won one of two seats in the House for the NIP. This began his role as the long-running member of the Opposition; from 1961 to 1974 he sat in the House alone (he was appointed after the NIP lost all eighteen seats to the PUP in 1961 elections), joined only by Edwin Morey from 1965 to 1969, and remained in opposition until the PUP lost elections in 1984.

Goldson, according to historian Assad Shoman, singlehandedly kept the two-party system in Belize alive at a time when citizens distrusted the PUP and ignored the NIP. Goldson, however, eventually left to pursue a law degree in London, returning in 1974 after the formation of the UDP. After Theodore Aranda was deposed as leader of the UDP in 1982, Goldson ran unsuccessfully against Manuel Esquivel for the post of UDP leader but won a Ministership in 1984. In the 1984 elections, he not only won his seat but also celebrated the first victory of his party (UDP). He was appointed Minister of Social Services. As Minister, he established the Family Court, the Belize City Urban Department, the Department of Women's Affairs, the District Councils, and the Disabilities Service Division. Upon the occasion of the Maritime Areas Act's passage in 1991, Goldson led a group of politicians away to start the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR). He charged that the PUP and UDP had hijacked politics in Belize for themselves and pledged to fight Belize's cause. Despite his retirement, on January 13, 1992, he was instrumental in the formation of the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR).

When a terminal building was to be built at the International Airport, the Prime Minister and Cabinet decided to rename the facility the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. In September 2001, he presented with the Order of Belize and in October 2001 was laid to rest with a state funeral. In September 2008, Goldson was posthumously awarded the country's highest honor given to a Belizean, the Order of National Hero.

Source: L - VF Biography 28, 28a and 28b @ National Heritage Library - National Collection.