During the next few weeks “Twenty Five Years Ago” will be taking you through a list of “Firsts” in San Pedro and Ambergris Caye which have set the pace for a good start and have led to the development of San Pedro as we know it today. So who and what and when and why were the “Firsts”?
First Skiff Accident: Back in the 1970’s there was not a lot of skiff traffic just like there was not a lot of traffic on land. Therefore accidents between fast boats were unheard of. One or two boats caught in a storm or in rough seas did overturn, and those accidents were considered almost tragic though there was no loss of life. However, we do have a skiff accident to relate to you from the 70’s. Mr. Armando Graniel Sr., the famous contractor of Graniel’s Construction, had one of the fastest skiffs in those days. The skiff was rightly named “El Veloz” (The speedy one). That skiff beat many others during the races of Baron Bliss Day and when traveling to and from the fishing sites, that skiff could leave you behind like a hare would to a turtle. One day while returning from Belize City, El Veloz hit a floating log and it started leaking and was about to sink. As soon as Graniel landed at the football field area, he pulled it up, sprinkled some gasoline over he skiff and lit it. It burned down to ashes in minutes. Later he learned that what he had done was a crime called arson. Graniel was so proud of his skiff that when he had some problems with it, he got rid of it.
First Election Campaign: Before 1984 village councils were elected at a public meeting by a raise of hands. I was personally elected into a village council about 1971 at a meeting at the local cinema where some thirty men attended. After San Pedro got its township status in 1984, then there was need of a two party election system. Chico Gomez, the interim first mayor, was sworn in, but elections were slated for early 1985 and so the first campaign began. It was pretty clean and positive but party fanatics always tend to carry it off track at times. Unlike today’s campaigns it was very low key in terms of cash spent. Yes a few T-shirts and banners were given out but that was about all. There were no free beer meetings, no giveaways, and not many promises made for it was all new and uncertain as to what to expect. The first persons ever elected in a two party election system were Pedro Salazar, Betito Marin, Luis Nuñez (deceased), Gilberto Gomez, Nicolas Varela, Gustavo Arceo, and your humble servant. Several us them served three consecutive terms of three years each and then retired. This year is town council election year.