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Jan 30, 2018

Municipal Campaign Trail: Squaring Off in Benque

At the age of twenty-two, he is thrusting himself into electoral politics to serve his people. This ambitious young man, Cristian Castellanos is attempting to topple a seasoned and trusted mayor of a town that has traditionally gone U.D.P. for many years. Castellanos is taking on Marconi Sosa on March seventh.  The age and experience of the aspiring politician who is studying law, is not a challenge but an opportunity he says. Today, News Five’s Isani Cayetano caught up with both in Benque Viejo del Carmen.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The campaign trail for most candidates is often an effort-intensive and fulfilling experience; walking the streets, meeting with residents and listening to their concerns.  In this border community the mayoral race is a showdown between the young and the old, age and experience being attributes that are favorable to either opponent.  For twenty-two-year-old Cristian Castellanos, his involvement in electoral politics is a unique opportunity to get to know fellow Benquenos.


Cristian Castellanos

Cristian Castellanos, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate

“I would say it has been the greatest experience in my life.  I have been able to meet a lot of people in my community that I didn’t know before.  The reception is good; people are receiving us everywhere we go.  They welcome us into their homes and we’re able to see the conditions they live in and it’s an amazing experience for us.”


Castellanos, a law student who is completing his studies online at the University of the West Indies, is the youngest mayoral candidate on the People’s United Party’s slate in any of the nine municipalities.  He is challenging the U.D.P.’s Marconi Sosa, a former mayor in this township, for the highest seat in local government.


Marconi Sosa

Marconi Sosa, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate

“I believe that there is a lot of work to be done in Benque Viejo del Carmen and this is the most opportune time to offer myself as a candidate to kind of like ensure that we can get things back in order and put the party and the work of the people on the front page.”


The road to town hall, at least for Castellanos, is not limited to the beaten path.  The door-to-door campaign sees him being ferried across the Mopan River to other parts of the constituency that are seemingly far-flung.  His partisanship is based on the P.U.P. being open to young leaders at the helm of governance.


Cristian Castellanos

“At first I thought that being young was a challenge when it came to being a leader and although it is a challenge, I have learned that it is not impossible to reach your aims.  I have to say that the P.U.P. is the party that embraces young people.  We see it across this country, a lot of young people getting involved in politics.  I’m grateful that they gave me the opportunity and certainly I had to really consider it.  I first got the request [and then] I had to discuss it with my family, with my friends.  I even had to pray because I knew that it was going to be a great challenge.”


…a mammoth undertaking indeed.  The match-up, to use a biblical reference, is similar to David and Goliath; Castellanos being the underdog to Sosa’s leviathan.  After all, the so-called Hills of Promise are a hue of red and have remained a stronghold for the United Democratic Party at the local and central government levels.


Marconi Sosa

“I think my leadership is a proven one and it is a trustworthy one.  People do trust the leadership that Gerardo Marconi Sosa has displayed in the past, in all aspects of political life, in all aspects of social life, in all aspects of life by itself.  It is leadership that will make a big difference.  I think age in effect does not really make that much of a difference, people are the ones that do choose between either or, but certainly in this case leadership will play a big role and the quality of work, the type of work.  The type of relationship that I had with my people and have with my people is certainly what brings the experience Viejo Town Council.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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