Government Minister Mike Espat Dies of Massive Heart Attack, Social Media Flooded with Condolences

Government Minister Mike Espat Dies of Massive Heart Attack, Social Media Flooded with Condolences

News of the death of Honorable Mike Espat reached our newsroom just before ten o’clock last night indicating that the Government Minister had a massive heart attack.  Within minutes, the report of his passing had circulated on social media, spurring an outpour of condolences.  Love News understands that Minister Espat had just gotten into Belmopan earlier in the day to prepare for a meeting scheduled for this morning, but that meeting would not happen as the senior politician was unable to survive last night’s attack.  We join Reporter Vejea Alvarez for more on this story.

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Flags are being flown at half-mast across the country as a sign of mourning for a giant of the south, Minister of State for Finance, Economic Development, and Investment, the Honourable Mike Espat. Last night, the 76-year-old suffered a major heart attack at his Belmopan home and was taken to the Western Regional Hospital, where he passed. “Iron Mike”, as he was affectionately known, first appeared in the political scene in 1989 and was serving his sixth term in office at the time of  his death. Despite his age and health issues, his passing came suddenly and shocked many, especially his Toledo East constituents and political comrades. His brother Luke says Espat died peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones. 

Luke Espat, Brother of Michael Espat: “He was preparing for the giving out of titles in Bella Vista on Thursday and he felt some pain and came up yesterday and went to the hospital and died. Mike has had a couple of boughts with Covid and that was it and that’s because of his having been cured and go right back into the campaign mode and the areas the hygienic requirements in the area is not what you would expect sometimes. It is a real shocker. It is a real shocker because of various reasons.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Espat is described as a true-blue PUP practicing the George Price service philosophy throughout his political career. Senior parliamentarian Minister Francis Fonseca underscored that Espat was a lifelong PUP supporter who gained many nicknames over the years. 

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “They called him Iron Mike, they called him Big Mike, Lion of the South, you know Minister Mike but above all you know we will always remember him as a true servant of the people. A man who dedicated his entire adult life to public service and in particular to serving the people of Toledo, the people of the south, the people of Toledo East. We knew he was not doing well when he was unable to participate in the budget debate. We knew that it was serious because Minister Mike would never miss a budget debate so we knew he was really not doing well but still we were shocked to learn last evening of his passing.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Social media platforms are filled with messages of condolences, gratitude, and recollections of fond memories.  Dr. Francis Arzu, a well-known PG resident, spoke of Espat’s instrumental role in the development of education in Toledo, especially during his tenure at Toledo Community College.

Dr. Francis Arzu, PG Resident: “He has done so much. Words cannot express the amount of work the Honorable Mike Espat has done in the Toledo East and of course the country. You know road infrastructure, land distribution in the Toledo district. Amazing, he has done exceptionally well, he has served well, we were presently working with him in the village of Barranco sorting things out he was a part of the renovation of the roads and the man has done his part. He has done well and now we celebrate his passing on to a more positive state.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Espat is the only politician to be re-elected consecutively in the Toledo East constituency. His colleague and friend Toledo West Area Representative Oscar Requena has served alongside Espat since 2012 and says the politician’s success was driven by his grassroots approach and love of service.

Oscar Requena, Toledo West Area Representative: “Minister Mike was very instrumental in moving a lot of people from the rural reas into Punta Gorda and as a result of that because he wanted to ensure that the young people from the rural areas would be able to go to secondary school and to sixth form he opened up two new areas in Punta Gorda essentially the Indianville area and he also opened up the Hopeville area and he made land available.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Espat was an educator during his early years and later moved into the political arena to transform the South and, according to his brother, he did exactly that. 

Luke Espat, Brother of Michael Espat: “And in that time there were no roads, efficient roads anyway, farmers roads, land possession, opportunities for students to further education and Mike pioneered all those areas including the establishment of the University in Punta Gorda for higher education. When you had to go to the villages you had to go by either river or on sea at the time, today you can drive to Otoxa or Machakilha.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Hundreds of residents say they have fond and joyous memories of Espat, as he spent decades getting to know the people in his constituency. Fonseca recalls the love Espat had for the South and the love it gave him back. 

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “You know personally I would always remember traveling to the south and having the opportunity to tour the southern villages with Minister Mike and to relax in a hammock with him from time to time and just chat about Belize, Belize’s development and the challenges we face as a country.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: And perhaps apart from Espat’s family, the ones who will miss him the most are his die-hard supporters like Beartiz Bo, who says Espat will be remembered as a true Champion of the people.

Beatriz Bo, Supporter: “He still has a lot of vision for his people and that is why I know who is Mr.Mike. He was there for the poor people and I thank him a million times for what he does, we the people we sympathize. He was there for us the poor people, he helped a lot of people in general he helped us. Nobody will forget what Mr.Espat did.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The Office of the Prime Minister also issued a statement saying, Espat was a true warrior for Belize. It was always Belize first for him and then PUP. The South will miss him and so will the PUP.

Love News understands that Minister Espat was looking forward to 2 days of land clinics in the Toledo East division.

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