On the heels of Ramon Cervantes Sr.’s tragic passing last week comes the death of another prominent citizen from Orange Walk. He too was a former Government Senator and former Mayor of Orange Walk Town. But more than that, he was, for the last eleven years, Belize’s man in Guatemala. His Excellency Alfredo “Fred” Martinez was a bipartisan appointment made at a time when the country was in upheaval over Guatemalan aggression. He helped craft the proposals of facilitators Sir Shridath Ramphal and Paul Reichler, and later the proposal to take the unfounded Guatemalan claim to the International Court of Justice after simultaneous referenda. Ambassador Martinez died late Monday night after an extended period of illness and leaves behind his wife Ennalisa and three sons, Carlo, Giovanni and Etienne. We spoke to the man who appointed him, former Prime Minister, Said Musa, who says the country has suffered a great loss.
Siad Musa – Former Prime Minister “First of all, let me say I’m very distressed to hear this morning that he passed away. I think it’s a great loss to Belize. We’re all very saddened by it, and indeed we send our sympathies to his wife and three sons. They are fairly elderly now, in their twenties, but still it must be a severe blow to them, and we’re all saddened by it.” According to Said Musa, he was looking for the best man for the post, but it was also important to him that the then opposition UDP be drawn into previously politically divisive process on Belize-Guatemala. He said that Fred Martinez’s personal diplomacy earned the respect of his Guatemalan counterparts. Siad Musa “I must say, when it comes to his job and his duties as an ambassador, Fred was very straight with the Government as well as with the opposition. I mean, he kept us, through Lisa Shoman mainly, fully briefed on all the developments, I must say, in this whole process. I believe he was highly respected as a diplomat, in Guatemala itself, and I think the Government has recognized that for many years. Several Guatemalan Governments have recognized the strength and the dignity and the great character of this Ambassador, Fred Martinez.” Said Musa told us he personally believes that the Ramphal-Reichler proposals were the closest Belize and Guatemala have ever come to settling the unfounded claim. A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lists additional postings, including ambassadorship in Mexico from 1993 to 1997 and non-resident postings in Venezuela, Cuba and Jamaica. He was awarded the highest award for foreign diplomats in Mexico, the Order of the Aztec Eagle. He was also a former Minister of Trade and Industry under Sir Manuel Esquivel and former chairman of the United Democratic Party. Arrangements for a state funeral are being made and will be announced as soon as possible.