An Honorable Man Print E-mail
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Written by By Jamil Matar   
Thursday, 09 November 2017 00:00

When I was in primary school at La Inmaculada here in OW, part of our Civics class was to memorize all the names of Cabinet Ministers and their portfolios, including the names of their permanent secretaries. As children we all thought of Ministers as being these tall, rich, Powerful men who could make anything happen. When I went on to first form at Muffles College, I was placed in a class with the daughter of Hon. Guadalupe Pech, then Minister of education. Vangie Pech was a pretty but humble young lady, full of manners who conducted herself with grace. I later met her father who was a gentle, soft-spoken man. Vangie and I went through Muffles all of the four forms.

In our final year we met in class the son of another Minister, Juan Antonio Briceño.  To me and my classmates’ surprise, and for some unknown reason, these two favored youths did not get along well.  Anyway, we all graduated and some of us went on to sit entrance exams for SJC and BTC.

By the time I had reached third form I had already been introduced to a UDP youth group by the late Fred Martinez, and later became an active and vocal campaigner for the Opposition. When I sat the exam for Belize Technical College we were informed that the student with the highest score would be awarded a scholarship covering books and tuition. In any instance, the fees for BTC were low, but to a poor person it meant a lot.  I still remember when a teacher at BTC, Mr. Basil Coleman, announced that Norman Wallacy from Dangriga and I had tied for first place and that the Minister would decide to whom the scholarship would be awarded.  In my mind I wanted to congratulate Wallacy since I was UDP and stood little chance to be awarded anything. However, we were told that the Minister had sent a memo that both of us were to be granted the award. Not only that, that same weekend a Mr. Tapia from Social Services here in OW informed me that  Minister Pech had approved bursaries  at $70  monthly  to assist with boarding for  all  students from OW.

About a year ago when I was returning from a trip to “La Union” we stopped to buy boiled corn and “Atole” from a little stand in front of Mr. Pech’s residence in Yo Creek.  I asked his relatives if I could see the gentleman but was told he was resting.  I wanted to personally thank him for his assistance to me and my fellow classmates in 1976, but now will never get the opportunity again. This is the least I can do in his memory.

To Vangie and her family my sincerest condolences, and may this kind-hearted, gentle man rest in peace. He was truly an honorable and respectable person.

I had originally intended to keep this essay void of politics out of respect for the family of the late Mr. Pech, and not foil it with partisan comments, but after watching a repeat of News 7 a little while ago I cannot resist commenting that I find Hon. Courtenay’s remarks on Hon. Erlington to be crude and disrespectful of another human being.   His tirade was unwarranted and offensive to viewers, him being a senator and all and a former top diplomat representing our country.  Instead of hurling insults at each other we should all team up against our common enemy which is claiming all our country. We must be able to be civil to each other even in adversity. As far as I can recall, Mr. Erlington has never represented a foreign entity against Belize’s interests and I respect him for that.  Cool down, Senator, you come across like Rumpelstiltskin when you go off like that.  I guess newly acquired wealth brings out the worst in people.  What do the French call it?  Nouveau riche?  Or is it “vieux riche” from the $3.34 million?