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November 1982: “Price under threat from Belize Right”

(The article below by Greg Chamberlain was first published in THE GUARDIAN of November 29, 1982, and reproduced in the AMANDALA of Friday, December 17, 1982.)

On the eve of President Reagan’s visit to Central America this week, Washington is anxiously monitoring a power struggle in the former British colony of Belize which could tip the political balance in the region further against the United States.

The Belizean Prime Minister, Mr. George Price, who has dominated the country for 32 years, is resisting powerful pressure to throw in his lot with right-wing, strongly pro-US members of his Cabinet and dismiss two Ministers accused of trying to ally the country with Nicaragua and Cuba.

Mr. Price, who has so far tried to walk a narrow line between the region’s rival governments, recently met representatives of the Salvadorean and Guatemalan left, with Nicaragua’s Sandinistas, in Belize to discuss the country’s role in the region.

After the chairman of Mr. Price’s ruling People’s United Party, Mr. Louis Sylvestre, denounced the conference as Communist, Mr. Price reportedly tried during a Cabinet meeting to dismiss him as Energy and Communications Minister. The move failed: most of those present walked out on the Prime Minister.

The local press speculates that Washington is working for the replacement of the 63-year-old Mr. Price by Mr. Sylvestre, who earlier this year had talks in the US with President Reagan, who has yet to meet Mr. Price.

Mr. Price displeased Washington a fortnight ago when he was an important influence in blocking an attempt by Jamaica and Barbados, strong allies of the United States, to exclude left-wing Grenada, which has close ties with Cuba and Nicaragua, from the Caribbean regional body, CARICOM, at a summit in Jamaica.

Mr. Price’s two left-wing aides, the Health Minister, Mr. Assad Shoman, and the Attorney General and Education Minister, Mr. Said Musa, have called for “extraordinary and heroic measures to be taken” against the “corruption, inefficiency and mediocrity” which they see as having paralysed the regime.

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