The following is a biographic profile on Clifford Emmanuel Betson (1891 – 1975)
- Clifford Emmanuel Betson was born on 24 December, 1891 to parents Adele Betson and Joseph Betson.
- Betson volunteered and served along with Samuel Haynes and more than 500 other Belizeans in Mesopotamia during World War I at which time they experienced discrimination and racism.
- In 1935 Betson was the leader of a group known as the Progressive Party which agitated for increased representation for poorer citizens.
- By 1939 he was a member of the British Honduras Tradesmen and Workers Union
- He served as President of the General Workers Union (GWU) from 1944 to 1950. The GWU was the country’s largest and most powerful union and comprised forestry and waterfront workers.
- Under Betson’s leadership, the GWU won wage increases for Stann Creek Fruit Workers, Corozal Sugar Workers, and Belize Waterfront Workers and Punta Gorda Dock Workers.
- He led a month-long strike in February of 1947 and forced the Belize Estate and Produce Company (B.E.C.) to grant a 60% wage increase to its workers.
- By 1950 his leadership of the GWU was taken over by the leaders of the Nationalist Movement, thus providing the impetus for the next phase of political and constitutional advancements in Belize.
- He believed in governmental regulation of capitalist companies; in the election of labor leaders to government office; and in cooperative action among workers.
- Betson was a master shipwright and mentored many younger boat builders. He built and repaired many popular boats used in the sailing regattas and river travel.
- Clifford Betson died on 10th February, 1975 at age 83.
Images courtesy the Belize Archives and Records Service, The National Heritage Library and Belize Abroad.
How to cite: ISCR/NICH. “Clifford Emmanuel Betson (1891 – 1975).” Belize’s Heroes, Patriots & Benefactors Exhibit. Retrieved from: [Insert BHA Website URL]
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