George Price – The Father of Belize
Belize may be a young nation, but it has been blessed with a true hometown hero in the form of George Cadle Price. Widely known across the land as the Father of the Nation, George Price helped guide this former British colony as it transitioned to a fully sovereign nation in 1981.
George Price was born on January 15, 1919, and passed away on September 19, 2011, at the age of 92. During his lifetime, he saw Belize transition from an isolated agricultural British colony to a free and independent nation that is a regional leader in responsible conservation and environmental stewardship.
Born to a large family with 10 siblings in Belize City, Price nearly died at the tender age of 21 when a hurricane destroyed his high school, only narrowly escaping by swimming away from the collapsed building at the last moment. Originally drawn to the priesthood, Price attended seminary in the United States but felt called to return to his homeland.
Throughout his whole life, George Price dedicated himself to improving the people of Belize. In the 1940s, Price began writing for the Belize Billboard, an influential newspaper that was run by Philip S. W. Goldson. Price first entered political life in 1944 when he ran for a position on the Belize City Council. After falling short in 1944, he kept trying and was eventually elected in 1947.
Price faced his first difficult challenge in 1949 when the British Honduran dollar (as the currency was then known) was steeply devalued. Price then assembled a group of leading citizens to form the People’s Committee in order to address the economy’s needs. This committee formed the nucleus of what later became the People’s United Party (PUP) in 1950.
Later that same year, Price gave a now-famous speech in which he called for national unity. In 1954, Price was elected to the brand-new Legislative Assembly. From 1956 to 1962, Price served as the mayor of Belize City. In 1961, he was elected as the First Minister, then the highest office in the land available to Belizeans.
As First Minister, he initiated the process for Belize to become an independent country, which finally occurred in 1981. After independence, Price became the first Prime Minister of Belize and served in various government posts until 1996. In 2000, Price became the first person to be given the Order of National Hero, the highest honor in Belize.