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Mar 5, 2015

Dangriga Goes Red!

The People’s United Party, previous to Wednesday, controlled the two town councils in the south: Punta Gorda and Dangriga. While early in the night, the U.D.P. claimed victory in Punta Gorda by a significant margin, the results from Dangriga would be officially known later in the night. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was on the ground when the wave of red washed over Dangriga.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The resonance of air horns in the vicinity of Princess Royal Park, amidst a feverishness often reserved for Eighteenth Night, officially kicked off the U.D.P. victory rally in Dangriga.  Shortly before two o’clock this morning, it was officially announced that the incoming town council would be formed exclusively by the ruling party and its slate of seven.  That broadcast succeeded several hours of anxiety, as stalwarts stood vigil outside of town hall.  Emerging a few moments later to a hero’s welcome, mayor designate Francis Humphries, flanked by campaign manager Frank ‘Papa’ Mena.

 

Francis Humphries

Francis Humphries, Newly Elected Mayor, Dangriga

“It’s not my victory, you know, it’s the victory of all these people out here; our United Democratic Party.  That’s what it is.  It’s the people’s victory.”

 

The sweeping victory on Wednesday is the culmination of an extensive campaign which, according to Humphreys, began two years ago.  Throughout the day, however, it was somewhat difficult to gauge the outcome of the election since voters, for the most part, trickled into the polling stations casually.  That, notwithstanding a lull closer to midday.

 

Gregory Ovado

Gregory Ovado, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate

“It is natural that around that time we are going to have a slowdown in voters coming out.  Most people are trying to refresh themselves and are getting ready for the long haul.  Traditionally in Dangriga most of our voters would normally come out in the cool of the evening.”

 

Despite the ease in turnout, both major parties remained in overdrive, bringing out as many voters to cast their respective ballots as possible.  By evening, the streets of the Culture Capital would come alive once again, many standing around trying to get a feel for the pending results.  At four o’clock, Returning Officer Martin Alegria would provide an update, stating briefly that approximately forty-two percent of all registered voters in Dangriga had dipped their fingers in the indelible ink by that time.

 

Martin Alegria

Martin Alegria, Returning Officer

“Everything has been very smooth and we have noticed how things are right here.  Everybody is cooperating with us, the people working the elections and everybody is respecting the hundred yards.  Everybody is in line assisting when we ask if, you know, people that are of age go to the front.  There has been no problem with us.”

 

…and that peacefulness would prevail for the remainder of the day.

 

Back at the Princess Royal Park after midnight, UDP supporters lingered around with bated breath.  The ballot boxes, all eleven, were being counted fastidiously; the results of each box reported as they became available.  Before long it became apparent that a turnaround in the leadership of the municipality was imminent.  That was confirmed shortly thereafter, the restless throng erupting into a deafening refrain as the final tally was made public.

 

Francis Humphreys

“Folks, this is a victory for you the people.  Let us understand that.  We would not be here tonight celebrating this without all the hard work, dedication, the commitment that our campaigners, that our campaign committee headed by none other than Namule Frank ‘Papa’ Mena.  It would not have been possible without all the voters who came out in the hundreds today to dip their fingers in ink to say to the world, “We want change!  We want to take back Griga!”  And we took it back.  And it would not have been possible without the great leader of our party and our nation Honorable Dean Oliver Barrow.”

 

The deliverance of Dangriga completes the U.D.P.’s takeover of the southern municipalities, including Punta Gorda. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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