Features — 05 June 2019 — by Karen H. Judd
The Bowmans and the Bowens in 1992

Politically, too, with the change to an elected government local whites have found it more expedient, and effective, to play a behind the scenes role – based on money and international contacts – than to enter the ethnically charged electoral fray. The Bowmans, once active in politics, have withdrawn completely. An early PUP supporter, H. T. A. distrusted Price’s anti-British stance, and his close identification with the colony’s white administrators made it difficult to make the shift to the strong nationalist politics of the independence movement. One son has moved to the States and another occupies himself with the family’s citrus operations, while the third committed suicide when his own son was critically injured in an accident in 1983.

The Bowens followed a similar pattern. Eric William Manfield was a member of the Legislative Council under the colonial system, elected under the limited franchise introduced in 1936 and again in 1941. As the political momentum shifted in the 1950s, he was nominated to the Legislative Council in 1955 specifically to counterbalance the young creole nationalists (Grant 1976:194). When this became untenable he withdrew from political life to concentrate on his business empire. Barry Bowen backs both political parties – as do all major businesses, in order to secure government backing for their business ventures at any given time (Shoman 1987: 79-82).

Only the Hunters keep a hand in political life. Alexander’s daughter, director of the Department of Culture, is active in the intellectual and reform element of the PUP. Reflecting the confidence of her elite background, she today identifies as both white and creole – raising the eyebrows of creole friends whose darker skin and other features give them fewer options. A determined nationalist, she has actively embraced the creolization of her own family, as when her brother married a creole in 1989.

Her local white contemporaries keep a greater social distance. Barry Bowen maintains a home in Miami as well as several in Belize; when in Belize he lives on Ambergris Cay, commuting to Belize City by private plane. His brother prefers the family home at St. George’s Cay, where he socializes with other local white families, comparing yachts and fish and women. They shun Rotary and Chamber of Commerce functions – though Barry serves on the executive of the Chamber of Commerce and Bowen & Bowen money backs sports teams, beauty contests, and so on each year. Their sisters, like their ex-wives, live in Britain and the States. The Bowmans rarely come to Belize City, preferring Carrie Bow Cay or their estate at Stonehaven, and the company of archeologists and marine biologists from the Smithsonian.

( – from pgs. 116, 117, ELITE REPRODUCTION AND ETHNIC IDENTITY IN BELIZE, by Karen H. Judd, Ph. D., City University of New York, 1992.)

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