Sylvia Flores – former Mayor, Speaker, Minister – passes at 71

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Amandala Newspaper

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, and mayor of Dangriga Town, Sylvia Flores, 71, passed away due to natural causes at her home in Dangriga on Tuesday, December 8.

by Charles Gladden

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Dec. 8, 2022

On Tuesday, December 6, Sylvia Sarita Flores, a political trailblazer who was the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives, and who also served during her political career as president of the Senate, a Cabinet minister, and area representative and mayor for Dangriga Town, passed away due to natural causes at her home in Dangriga.

Prior to entering politics, Flores had been an educator who strived to improve the lives of those in her community as well as an advocate for women in the country.

Flores earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science from Hunter College in New York City, and after her return to Belize in 1983, she was named Justice of the Peace. In 1988, she became the first woman mayor in Dangriga, serving two terms.

She would later serve as the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1998 to 2001 and president of the Senate from 2001 to 2003. In that same year, she secured a seat in the House of Representatives after being elected as the area representative of Dangriga, and was subsequently named Minister of Defence and National Emergency Management.

In 2005, she became the Minister of Human Development and Women, a role which enabled her to continue her advocacy for women. Flores, who served two terms under former Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Said Musa, played a key role in the revision of the Domestic Violence Act.

Flores, following those terms, returned to teaching. She taught Spanish at Stann Creek Ecumenical High School and Economics at the junior level. Additionally, she taught Spanish and English at Delille Academy for 5 years, for free, when there were no funds to pay teachers.

Area representative of Dangriga, Hon. Dr. Louis Zabaneh, told Amandala, “She is highly regarded, highly respected by persons across the political spectrum, all spectrums as a matter of fact, and really have left a wonderful legacy for many others to follow and to emulate. The country has lost an incredible champion of people, a champion of women’s rights, a champion of doing things the right way.”

Dr. Zabaneh further mentioned that the two would often converse at Flores’ home or in the community, on topics that included her approach to life and its challenges, and her strategies as a political figure.

During the interview, Dr. Zabaneh told us that one of his most cherished memories of Flores is her keeping in touch with him after the passing of his mother.

“I will always remember her calling and checking up on me to see how I was doing and reminding me to pray. Reminding me that my mom had passed away a few years before and that she was no longer around and that she would be calling me to keep me on the right path. Those are beautiful memories that we will cherish and we will always her grateful for her example and for her being willing to share all that she had with those following behind her,” Zabaneh said.

At one of the last events she attended as a public figure, Flores was named Woman of the Year in 2013 by the United States Embassy in Belize and expressed her gratitude for such an award.

“It is most certainly an honor for me as well, to have been a part of [the] cadre of very qualified Belizean women who were nominated for this award. You are women [whom] I respect greatly and for whom I hold great admiration, because you are women who have an abiding sense of self-worth [and] have contributed significantly to the empowerment and the advancement of our Belizean women and girls,” she said.

Flores had been battling with diabetes, and her health deteriorated after she suffered a stroke. She passed away at around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8.

Flores was an only child and birthed one daughter. She also leaves behind five grandchildren.

She was 71.