Belizean patriot, journalist, teacher and politician, Leigh Richardson, has passed away.
Amandala was informed this afternoon that Richardson, who had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, according to relatives, succumbed to complications from an infection at about 4:00 this morning in a New York City hospital (2:00 a.m. Belize time).
Richardson was a founding and executive member of the People’s United Party in 1950 before leaving in 1957 with Philip Goldson to form the Honduran Independence Party (HIP), one of the two political parties that merged to form the National Independence Party (NIP), itself one of the three parties forming the roots of the current governing party – the United Democratic Party (UDP). Leigh Richardson had left Belize by the time of the UDP’s founding in 1973.
Richardson, one of nine children born to Leigh Richardson, Sr., and Egzine Coffin, was born in 1924. He taught at Wesley College in Belize City and was a founding publisher of the famous daily Belize Billboard (along with Nacho Valdez) in the 1940’s.
Richardson moved to Jamaica, where he worked for the Jamaica Gleaner, then Trinidad, and finally the United States, where he lived until his death.
Richardson was recently honored at the 2008 Tribute to Belizean Patriots with an Order of Distinction. He was not present at the ceremony, but his sister-in-law, Kathleen Richardson, in accepting his award, made extensive reference to his contribution to Belizean politics and society, as well as his exile from Belize, which she claimed was the work of “… forces beyond his control.”
Former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Manuel Esquivel, in accepting his Order of Belize that same night, said that he was honored to be honored on the same night as Goldson and Richardson, whom he noted as being Belize’s first political prisoners (Goldson and Richardson were convicted of sedition in 1951 and made to serve nine months doing hard labour).