Price, George

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Price, George

January 15, 1919

George Cadle Price, a politician, was born in Belize of mixed African, European, and Mayan ancestry. He was educated at St. John's College, Belize's most prestigious secondary school, and at St. Augustine Seminary in Mississippi. Deciding against taking holy orders, he returned to Belize and in 1942 became the secretary of a wealthy merchant-politician. Price was a member of the Christian Social Action Group, formed by graduates of St. John's College, which from 1945 promoted Catholic ideals of social justice. He topped the polls in the Belize City Council election in 1947, and he rapidly became Belize's most distinguished politician.

When the British government devalued the colony's currency in 1949, Price helped form a protest committee. This group became the core of the People's United Party (PUP), which worked with the General Workers' Union to develop an anticolonial movement. On April 28, 1954, when the first election was held with universal adult suffrage, the PUP won two thirds of the vote and eight of the nine elected seats in the new Legislative Assembly. Price consolidated his leadership of the party in 1956 and, on the basis of its opposition to colonialism and with support from all the ethnic groups in the country, it won all the seats in 1957.

The British government distrusted Price, but in the 1961 elections the PUP won all eighteen seats, and after a new constitution granted internal self-government in 1964, Price became premier. The state, under Price's leadership, assumed an active role in developing the economy, and a new capital, Belmopan, was built inland. The PUP won every national election in 1965, 1969, 1974, and 1979, but because Guatemala claimed the territory, independence was delayed until September 21, 1981, when Price became the prime minister.

In 1984, after an economic crisis, the PUP was defeated by the United Democratic Party (UDP), but Price remained his party's leader. After the 1989 election, when the PUP won 50.3 percent of the vote and fifteen of the twenty-eight seats in the House of Representatives, Price again became prime minister. Guatemala's government recognized Belize's independence in 1991, but in 1993 the Guatemalan president was overthrown. Growing anxieties about Belize's security and the presence of thousands of Central American immigrants resulted in the closest of general elections on June 30, 1993. The PUP won more votes, but the UDP, which won sixteen of the twenty-nine seats, formed a new government. In October 1996 Price resigned as his party's leader but he retained his seat in his Belize City constituency in the 1998 and 2003 elections, which were won decisively by the PUP.

Price was awarded the Order of CARICOM by that Caribbean organization in 2001, and on September 19, 2004, when he was still a member of the government as senior minister with responsibility for disaster preparedness and management, he received Belize's highest honor, the Order of National Hero. This distinguished and long-serving statesman was honored for his dedication to his country, his integrity and modesty, and his unpretentious lifestyle.

See also Anti-Colonial Movements; Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM); International Relations in the Anglophone Caribbean


Greene, Edward. George Price: Father of the Nation Belize. Belize: ION Media, 2000.

Shoman, Assad. "Party Politics in Belize." In Political Parties and Democracy in Central America, edited by Louis W. Goodman, William M. LeoGrande, and Johanna Mendelson Forman. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992.

o. nigel bolland (2005)

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Price, George

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