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Nov 5, 2015

P.U.P. Gain 2 Seats in Belize City

In Belize City, where the disparity in the size of constituencies range from three thousand and eighty-four in Fort George to six thousand three hundred and five registered voters in Lake Independence, the battle for every vote was fierce. Going into the November fourth elections, of the ten constituencies, the U.D.P. controlled eight, while the P.U.P. had two. The results were in early and while the U.D.P. still retains its hold in the City; the P.U.P. gained ground in two other constituencies. It was bitter sweet in Caribbean Shores and Lake Independence. We start our election coverage here in Belize City with Isani Cayetano.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The political race in Belize City, where a total of ten seats in the House of Representatives are available, saw the involvement of three parties, including a green, under-resourced alternative.  The buildup to the November fourth general elections was momentous.  Having served two consecutive terms in office, the United Democratic Party would set out to make history by offering itself for a third successive victory at the polls.  Conversely, the opposition would attempt everything possible to dissuade voters from returning the U.D.P. to office.  The Belize Progressive Party, Johnny-come-lately in a well-established bipartisan system, simply wanted to make a name for itself this go round.  That being said, the stage was set for what would be a daunting task for all candidates.

 

Mark King

In Lake Independence things would get off to an early start.  Area Representative Mark King, along with dozens of his supporters, paraded to St. Martin’s de Porres Primary School to cast their ballots, before proceeding to mobilize as many voters as possible.

 

Mark King, U.D.P. Candidate, Lake-I

“We have a very good machinery at this point in time… It is most important that we get our people out to their various stations to do their jobs.  We have scheduled time for them to come in and vote, for each team.  And so you will find out we have like two, three hundred people out here this morning smack on the ground.  That does not include the other parts of the team that are around the constituency getting together their camps to work.”

 

King’s political opponent, P.U.P. Standard Bearer Cordel Hyde, was also occupied with doing the same thing.  Since his return to electoral politics a little over a year ago, Hyde had been busy canvassing his old stomping grounds.

 

Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, P.U.P. Candidate, Lake-I

“It’s a daunting challenge but it’s one we’ve done a number of times before and so we’ve just basically done it the way we know how to do it which is to grind, visit all the homes, talk to all the people inside their homes and make that connection and our street captains are seasoned persons, mixed with a number of young persons, really nice mix and they know what to do.  And so, it’s a long day.  We’re going to grind from now to whenever the polls close.”

 

Third party candidate Richard McCaulay was conspicuously absent from the fray.  But then again, this, as many perceived, was a battle for supremacy between red and blue.  The queue at the polling station number eight was lengthy.

 

In the adjacent constituency, former councilor Yasmin Shoman and labor unionist Raymond Rivers would both challenge three-time U.D.P. area representative Patrick Faber for the seat in Collet.

 

Yasmin Shoman

Yasmin Shoman, P.U.P. Candidate, Collet

“A lot of the people in the red shirts have openly, you know, come up to me, hug me and said that they are giving me the support.  Don’t worry about the shirt, we di tek di money and vote them out.  So we expect to have a big victory in the Collet Division this evening.”

 

That huge win, however, would prove to be elusive.  Trouncing a seasoned politician in an area, that has long since gone red, is no easy feat.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, U.D.P. Candidate, Collet

“We work together, we embrace everybody who come here and that is the way forward, in my opinion.  Not to break down, not to tear down, not to give pie in the sky promises of twelve hundred jobs and so many houses and a credit union and a school.  We already have a high school in this constituency, as you can see.  We don’t need pie in the sky promises.  We need the work to continue.”

 

Across town, Albert became an arena for three novice politicians.  While Tracy Taegar-Panton and Paul Thompson both worked under former P.U.P. Area Representative Mark Espat, the pair went separate ways.  Panton aligned herself with the ruling party, predicting a victory of twice the number of votes that Thompson would garner.

 

Tracy Taegar-Panton, U.D.P. Candidate, Albert

“We expect to beat my opponent two-to-one.”

 

Seemingly, the B.P.P.’s Doctor Jose Luis Espat did not appear on either of their respective radars.  His concern, nonetheless, was the low voter turnout.

 

Jose Luis Espat

Dr. Jose Luis Espat, B.P.P. Candidate, Albert

“I don’t have the exact numbers, but I know it’s pretty low and also in the other constituencies it’s pretty low.  I’m hearing numbers of forty-six, fifty-five every hour and that’s, you know, fairly low.”

 

In Freetown, the outcome of the election would be iffy, to say the least.  P.U.P. Leader Francis Fonseca was being challenged by U.D.P. newcomer Dr. Carla Barnett.

 

Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, P.U.P. Party Leader

“We feel good in Freetown that our machinery is working well.  We started very strong but as I have said to everyone, starting strong is one thing.  What’s important is finishing strong.  So we still have a long way to go.  It’s a long day and we have a lot of work to do but certainly we feel good about where we are and about the turnout so far.”

 

By nightfall, results of the day’s work, considering that elections, as they say, are won on the day, would begin to trickle in.  In Lake Independence, Cordel Hyde soundly routed Mark King by a margin of almost two thousand votes.

 

Reporter

“What do you think was the major factor that brought out such a landslide victory for you given that Mark King is the incumbent?”

 

Cordel Hyde

“It’s hard to say but we’ve just been here for a long time mein and even when we didn’t run last elections we basically stayed here because this is where I live and so that means something.  We have a certain connection with our people that is unlike any other and it’s one we hold near and dear to our hearts and obviously our people feel the same way.  And so we just have to give thanks for all that appreciation and love and support that we get from our people.  We have to give thanks.  We’re humbled by it.”

 

Notwithstanding works that have been done within the constituency, and Hyde’s popularity aside, King’s downfall may have been the result of a series of poor political choices.  Those chickens have all come home to roost.

 

Carla Barnett

In the case of Dr. Barnett, despite putting her best foot forward, unseating Fonseca from Freetown prove to be too much in this go round.

 

Dr. Carla Barnett, U.D.P. Candidate, Freetown

“It’s been a good fight and congratulations to him for winning and we continue to fight.  Absolutely.”

 

Reporter

“Can you talk to us about the margin?”

 

Dr. Carla Barnett

“The margin increased significantly.  I think they are still totaling it up in there but there was an increase in the margins and we’ll see the final numbers when they come out.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What has the experience been like for you Dr. Barnett?”

 

Dr. Carla Barnett

“Oh, it’s been very good.  I have nothing negative to say about the experience because as you know I’m new in the constituency and I’ve only been at it eight months but I’ve really made a lot of good friends in Freetown and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”

 

Kareem Musa

The shocker of the night, of course, came with the announcement of Kareem Musa’s victory over Mayor Darrell Bradley in Caribbean Shores.  That constituency was hotly contested.  In the end, the favored candidate would fall by fifty-six votes.

 

Kareem Musa, P.U.P. Candidate, Caribbean Shores

“This victory Isani is not about me, it’s about these people here.  These people here.  These are the people that delivered me tonight.  These are the people but I want to first of all big up my opponent, he fought an excellent fight.  Darrell is an excellent candidate, very formidable and I want to thank him.  He did an excellent job. It’s really close.”

 

Of the ten electoral districts that make up Belize City, the United Democratic Party won six seats; in some constituencies, including Mesopotamia, by as much as a four-to-one ratio of votes while in Port Loyola, Anthony Boots Martinez won Gilroy Usher of the P.U.P. by only seventy-six votes. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

One sour loser is Mark King, who was beaten by a margin of three to one in Lake I. In a Facebook message today, King wrote, “I didn’t even drop a tear for Lake I. I gave them my all and Prime Minister gave me everything to take care of them. They laughed at me, now thirty social programs will be gone and U.D.P. is no longer in lake I. Let’s see who will pay their bills, send their kids to school, give them land and treat them with love starting with a dead Christmas? I’ll be on a foreign beach with my kids living the life.” And with a flourish, he ends…I will be back, but not in lake I. 

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1 Response for “P.U.P. Gain 2 Seats in Belize City”

  1. CEO says:

    How can someone who is participating in the electoral process if he had any sense could make statements like this? This guy needs to be schooled about the finer points of the electoral process!

    I wonder if he remembers when he got up and unequivocally told his constituents that they do not matter; only his party does?

    How can he state that the services rendered to the people of his area will be taken away because they did not vote for the current government and there is no public outcry? This tells me two things; 1) the leaders of the country have fallen short giving very poor leadership to their people, and 2) what’s worse, the people have accepted this as business as usual.

    Sad situation!

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