A Look at the BNTU Convention and Stalled Election Process
But before the announcement of the winner, the B.N.T.U.’s Council of Management had to grapple with a problem unprecedented in its history – the prospect of alleged political interference tainting the vote. For that reason, it brought business to a halt for much of this morning as it deliberated. Discussions were heated, and reports from the meeting site were that at least one candidate was asked to drop out and refused. But though tempers were frayed, the Union emerged unbroken. Aaron Humes has the highlights from San Roman.
Aaron Humes, Reporting
The election for a new president and secretary of the Belize National Teachers’ Union, the other positions having been filled without contest, should have proceeded beginning around eleven-thirty this morning. But beginning from just after nine, the B.N.T.U. Council of Management was meeting to determine the way forward because of persistent reports of political interference. At its end shortly before noon, outgoing president Luke Palacio announced the decision to the restless gathering.
Luke Palacio, Outgoing President, B.N.T.U.
“Brothers and sisters we will be asking of you again your cooperation we will need to take a vote, you determine by your vote after this whether or not the elections should proceed. We will be again but we are asking the cooperation, is that each branch will meet with their branch president, the branch president has the list of members and only those members who are eligible to vote today will vote to determine if the election proceeds.”
Among other things, Palacio referenced the particularly nasty mudslinging on various local media in the run-up to the election. But he insisted that none of it should have any effect on the candidates. After the branches met, General Secretary Keesha Young-Flowers announced the result:
Keesha Young-Flowers, General Secretary, B.N.T.U.
“We have a total count of 630 financial members here today, we have a total of 85 who voted no for not having the election today and 544 to proceed and there was only 1 abstention we will take a 15 minute break to set up, we need to set up the election station just allow us to do what we need. fifteen minutes.”
The candidates for secretary, incumbent vice-president Adelaida Guerra and challenger Ruth Shoman, are both Corozal natives, but Guerra lives and works in Belize City. They both promised to do a good job as the scribe to the Union. But the real intrigue surrounded the race for president, between three candidates from different backgrounds, with different levels of experience and recognition, but all passionate for their Union and its future.
Elena Smith, Candidate for National President
“You have known me for many, many, many years, I have been on the executive e for 20 consecutive years serving on the Belize branch I have been tried and I have been tested but you can see today that I am standing. Standing tall and I have nowhere to go from here but taller so it doesn’t matter what they do, I will always be a member of B.N.T.U. and I will always represent for you, the members of B.N.T.U. Whether I am in my branch or I’m the president.”
Mario Mesh, Candidate for National President
“As an independent sovereign country we now that what happens and what does not happen, We must now chose a new leader, a leader who shall fulfill all our memberships expectations=, a leader who can uphold the title of teacher and most importantly the in test of B.N.T.U. as a union wholeheartedly.”
Troy Coleman, Candidate for National President
“My responsibility as the president is to give you some time to meet to talk to me. Tell me what more can a union does for you and what can you do as members of this union to engage to get it done. Because it is not only the leadership, it is you; you make B.N.T.U. what it is. I am the kind of leader who will stand here and tell you that I will be nothing without you the soldiers of this mighty B.N.T.U.”
At two p.m., it was time to vote. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.