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Apr 20, 2017

Senator Elena Smith Emerges Victorious as BNTU’s New National President

As we told you Senator Elena Smith is the new President of the B.N.T.U. After approximately two and a half hours of voting, almost that much in counting and several moments of angst, the Belize National Teachers’ Union has elected Elena Smith as president. She won with a majority of the vote in a three-cornered race with Troy Coleman and Mario Mesh that was marred by allegations of political interference against her. But the Union’s members voted almost as much in defiance of that as they did her personal bonafides. Here is the dramatic moment of the announcement followed by Smith’s media interview uncut.

 

Kathleen Flowers, Chair, Election Committee, B.N.T.U.

Kathleen Flowers

“Mrs. Elena Smith earned 349 of the votes, Mr. Troy Coleman earned 197 of the votes and Mr. Mario Mesh earned 140 of the votes. Allow me to present Mrs. Elena Smith, as the National President of the Belize National Teachers’ Union.

 

Elena Smith, Incoming President, B.N.T.U.

“I think the first word I must say is grateful. I am grateful and I am overjoyed. Words can’t express the feeling I got, the support I got from my members, it was so overwhelming that I don’t know how to say thank you but thank you to all the people who supported me.”

 

Reporter

“Were you confident that you would get the victory today?”

 

Elena Smith

Elena Smith

“I had a level of confidence but I wasn’t sure because you never know, because people will say to you that they will support you and when the day comes you never know what they do so I wasn’t over confident but I was sure of my members from my branch.”

 

Reporter

“Now, this is…you are the first president in 9 years, does your election mean a shift from the Luke Palacio regime or what exactly does this mean? Do you intend to take the union a different route, do you intend to carryon his work? What is your vision for the union?

 

Elena Smith

“Well first of all there is no Luke regime it is the B.N.T.U. and it was the members say, is what our President and what the council go by. So my plan is to continue to work without members and to do what it is that our members want. When I need to stand for them I will do that, when I need to work for them otherwise I will do that. But it is not about me or Brother Luke it is about B.N.T.U. and our member, they will tell us how to go about doing their business.

 

Reporter

“What is the first thing you intend to institute, do you have any ideas to pitch to your members to see if they will support your ideas as to how to improve the union?”

 

Elena Smith

“Well, one of the main things for me is communication and education, and communication in the form of better technology. I think we need to be moving up with the century as time is going by. We see our young people; our young teachers are into technology. As a union we must become that as well so that we can benefit them. So my focus will be education and communication.”

 

Reporter

“Now, when Mr. Luke spoke for the union whether or not the persons in the public liked or hated him, whatever feelings they had against him the nation took notice of what he had to say because he represented the strongest union; do you foresee that you have that ability to fill his shoes to speak for the union whenever they take any positions whether or not it is adversarial to the government?”

 

Elena Smith

“I have no problem with that, as long as my membership gives us the mandate I will go by that. It doesn’t matter who likes it or who doesn’t like it that is what I am going by. I am not afraid to stand up.”

 

Reporter

“You have been a part of the union for so many years; you ran previously of this post and was defeated. How do you feel now winning this very important post?”

 

Elena Smith

“Well I feel that the extra years that I took to qualify myself, when I say qualify I don’t mean papers but to get more experience. I think has helped me and the member of the B.N.T.U. on a whole have seen where I have grown and they see you know what, Elena Smith is about B.N.T.U. and not about any politics. I think that is what pushed me over the edge today.”

 

Reporter

“Before the elections, the council of management spoke about this infiltration for political interference. Do you believe that at the end of the day that there is still infiltration of political interference?”

 

Elena Smith

“I believe we do, we have seen you know person, we have seen certain things happening, we have seen certain texts going around we have heard of certain meetings and so there is assaying in Creole “If it sound like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it is a duck.” And so everybody is saying that that was happening.”

 

 

Elena Smith will be supported by outgoing President Luke Palacio who was uncontested as first Vice President.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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