During the days of the Silver Township celebration of San Pedro Town, the name of Louis Sylvestre Cuz was repeatedly heard on the talk shows, the street, and on stage the night of the awards event. To the older folks, Cuz needs no introduction. He is a legendary figure in San Pedro, though not a Sanpedrano. However, the younger folks and new comers to San Pedro should know a little more about Louis Sylvestre, so here it goes.
The people of San Pedro insisted in pronouncing his name Sylvestre, the ending as “tre” but it is pronounced as “ter”. It is a British name, but Cuz is 100% Belizean. He became involved in the life of San Pedro as a politician. Premier George Price picked him (we did not select him) as the Area Representative for Belize Rural South, which of course, included San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Since the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and on into the 70’s and 80’s, Cuz was the Area Representative for San Pedro. He was also a Minister in Central Government and Cabinet with the portfolio of Electricity and Communication, as well as Education at one point in his career.
Cuz ran several elections in San Pedro and losing none. Serious- NONE! He was immensely popular. In fact he never ran an official campaign nor hung any banners around the village simply because he did not need them to win. Instead he personally visited every home in San Pedro and kissed every woman and shook hands with every man and child. While walking around the village, everyone was desirous of meeting him and shaking hands. And you know, he always carried a tooth pick between his lips, so people used to say, “Ya llego Toot Pic”. (Mr. Tooth Pick has arrived in the village) And Cuz made sure he waved at everyone. He was loved more than the Premier and later on Prime Minister. Cuz would visit often to attend village council meetings, funerals, and the September Tenth parade. It was an honor for every family to have Cuz come from Belize City by boat to attend a funeral. Thank goodness for him that there was a funeral only occasionally, like one every two or three years.
So, why was Cuz loved so much besides his hugs and kisses and his Charisma? To try to make it short, here is a listing of some of his accomplishments for San Pedro. He got the first pier built and then maintained. He helped form the local fishing cooperative (a giant achievement). He got the concrete school built after Hurricane Hattie destroyed the wooden one. He was in San Pedro only a few days after Hurricane Hattie devastated us in 1961. He got the first telephone to the Island. He set up the first generating plant for our lighting system. He helped in the first water system. He got government do donate the land for the new San Pedro High School. Got our first policeman too! Got our first health clinic, and public nurse. And yes, he too signed the Declaration of Township on November 27, 1984. He worked with the first Town Board under Mayor Chico Gomez, and just after that he retired from politics. Louis Sylvestre’s contributions to the development of San Pedro is significant and undeniable. For many years or some two decades, the name “Cuz” was like a trade name- a patent for San Pedranos. Whenever there was something that needed to be done for San Pedro, people would say, “Leave it to Cuz”. Twenty Five Years Ago and Ambergris Today salute our good friend Louis “Cuz” Sylvestre.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist