Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2022. 10:32 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Representatives of a grateful nation this afternoon bid farewell in cloudy weather to the late Prime Minister Sir Manuel Esquivel.
A procession escorted his cremated remains with participation from the Belize Defence Force and Police Department from Daly Street, his residence, and the home of Price and Company, to Government House for what was billed as a “state memorial.”
A selection of musical artists including the Garifuna Collective, Nelita Castillo, and Tremett Perriott performed classical and popular selections, all favorites of Sir Manuel, who it is noted came from a musical family.
Official remembrances were presented by only son David, former deputy and one of the exclusive club of Prime Ministers of Belize, Right Honourable Dean Barrow, and another member, incumbent John Briceño, watched on by current Leader of the Opposition Moses “Shyne” Barrow, former and current Ministers of Government and other dignitaries.
David Esquivel noted simply, “While he is admired across the political spectrum both locally and internationally for his integrity, intelligence and competence, to us he’s just dad.”
And the man who credits him for his political tutelage and became a trusted ally, Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow, noted with some irony that the oxymoron “honest politician” fit Sir Manuel well – whether it was turning down political contributions from grateful businessmen in the Commercial Free Zone, or disarming a voter by sardonically offering to pave Coney Drive “in gold” during the 1998 campaign.
According to Barrow, those who got to know Sir Manuel beyond the proper exterior and occasionally dour and staid public persona found a warm, caring individual whom it was easy to defend to outsiders – and devoted to wife Lady Kathy Esquivel and their children.
From the opposite side of the political spectrum, Prime Minister John Briceño mused about Esquivel’s place in history: “History will find it rather incredible that a high school physics teacher would make this remarkable journey, which would not just see him rise to the highest office in the nation once, but twice. The job as a leader of a nation is not easy. Leading a nation just four years after Independence must have been even more challenging. For sure, our second prime minister on occasions must have longed for those days teaching Science. Perhaps there were days when he may have even asked himself what could have motivated him to leave the formation of young men with often turbulence of political leadership and the task of national government. Yes, Prime Minister Esquivel stepped boldly on this path facing challenges that were not easy.”
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