Eulogy for H.E. Alfredo Martinez Print E-mail
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Thursday, 17 July 2014 00:00

With the passing of Alfredo Martinez, Belize has lost a worthy and true man, a person we can all feel proud of and celebrate as a commendable example of a Belizean we hope there were more of.
I first met Fred in 1993, when he came to Mexico to replace me as Belize’s ambassador; I found him to be an amiable fellow, cheerful and gregarious. But I really got to know him in and after 2000, during the Facilitation Process and its aftermath. He was the representative of the Opposition in the Negotiating Team, and he was an exceptional representative of his party and, most importantly, of the State and people of Belize. In Fred I had an intelligent, savvy and cool man, always willing to learn and to approach matters with an open mind. He played an important part in helping us achieve the tremendous gains we made as a team with other worthy Belizeans during that difficult and tortuous process.

Sometimes I wondered whether I had missed something, and that Fred had trained as a lawyer and not told anyone. In our meetings with international lawyers, Fred was on top of the game, asking critical questions and making comments that would have made the best lawyers proud.

His talents and integrity were such that he goes down in history as the only Opposition leader (he was once Chairman of the UDP and a minister in a UDP government) who was named ambassador by the then governing party to no less important a country than Guatemala, over the strong objections of people in both parties. I must give credit to both Prime Minister Said Musa and Opposition Leader Dean Barrow for that.

But what made Fred special were his profoundly human qualities: his genuine humanity, his easy rapport with his team-mates, his generosity and his ever-present optimism and cheerfulness. In moments of great tension and pressure, one could always rely on Fred to be cool and acute in his perceptions and analysis.

Fred impressed me as a great family man, loving to and beloved by his wonderful wife Emma and his gifted and charming children, always concerned about their welfare and willing to do anything to give them the love, attention and concern they needed, without ignoring his duty as representative of his country. His and Emma’s hospitality are legendary.

I cannot adequately describe the positive effect Fred had on the Negotiating Team with his effusive and optimistic personality. I rate him as the best storyteller and raconteur of jokes I have ever known. And how he loved to dance Punta! It was hard to feel depressed for too long when Fred was around. Nobody I have known could make a joke or tell a story as well as Fred.

He dedicated all those last years of his life to the effort to help bring closure to the Guatemalan territorial claim to Belize, and to improving relations between the peoples of both countries. I know how much he would have wanted to be present when we finally resolve that anachronistic hangover from colonialism; now he won’t be there, at least not physically, but there can be no doubt that he played an important role in its eventual achievement.

I know that nothing can console his wife, children and other family members in this terrible moment of desolation and loss, and I can only hope that their knowing how much Fred meant for Belize and to so many Belizeans will make them feel proud of a man who I and so many others consider an honest, intelligent, generous and loving person.

Alfredo: fuiste un hombre verdadero, solidario, honesto, amoroso, cariñoso, inteligente y valiente. Te extrañaremos mucho.Te queremos.   Assad