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Early Election Times

With all the election fever going on, this column must give you a few anecdotes about some of the early elections in the history of Belize and San Pedro, of course. In the early 1950’s this thing called “Adult Suffrage” was granted to Belize. It was championed by George Price who formed the first political party-The People’s Party.

Ever since then we have been having elections. Before that we were governed by British rule- governor, magistrates, etc. The first elections in San Pedro were contested by PUP and NIP (National Independent Party).

There were no campaigns to register people. The officials simply came to San Pedro and the people, maybe some 50 people, went out to the police Station to vote for one candidate. The box was taken to Belize City and a few days later we learned that PUP Louis Sylvestre had won.

I don’t recall PUP Louis Sylvestre campaigning nor ever losing an election. He simply walked around the village and hugged and kissed every woman he met. He shook hands with the men and called them “Hi Cuz”. We never knew what “Cuz” meant but it sounded good (cousin or cosita). He also wore a pair of sun shades and he looked smart so people voted for him almost 100 percent. He also walked about with a toothpick in his mouth all the time and this looked cool and important.

Cuz came to San Pedro frequently to vacation and even then he campaigned kissing every lady in town and greeting all friends. Being a city man and an outsider, he was considered important; you know that old mentality that foreign is best, right? Cuz always met with the village chairman who told him of our needs. It was said that he took notes on his cigarette pack, but he did deliver wood for the pier, electricity, telephone, and culverts for the first wells and water system. Land for the high school was provided by Cuz.

Cuz was not in San Pedro for Election Day. He was in Hattieville, and Gracie Rock, and other villages which used to be in Belize Rural South. Mr. Enrique Staines, (deceased) who used to be his best buddy, took care of the election box. It was said that he put the box in a skiff and literally sat on the box all the way to Belize City for the counting.

Because there were no telephones, the next day he returned to San Pedro with the news. So let’s review the election: No campaigning, no political signs, no T-shirts, no promises, no rallies, no free music nor drinks, no hard feelings and no enemies, not even that messy red ink on your fingers. This was the election process 25 years ago. Other elections like village council were done by a raise of hands.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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