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Feb 13, 2018

The Electoral Tilt in Belmopan

Tanya Santos is an independent consultant in Natural Resources Management.  She’s been a resident of Belmopan all her life; but these days, she is on the campaign trail for the People’s United Party. Were she to turn things around, Santos would become the first female mayor of the Capital. On March seventh, the residents of Belmopan will make that decision and choose between Santos and Mayor Khalid Belisle to administer the City.  It’s a tough battle for a first time challenger, but says she is taking it in good stride. As she went house to house today, Santos and her team, explained their vision to modernize Belmopan. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Maya Mopan is one of several predominantly Hispanic communities in Belmopan that is described as an underserved population.  This, according to the People’s United Party, is based on characteristics that include race, ethnicity, geography and health outcomes, or, in this case, the overall quality of life.  Since joining the campaign, councilor candidate Hope Amadi has seen firsthand the disregard for neighborhoods like this in the capital city.

 

Hope Amadi

Hope Amadi, P.U.P. Councilor Candidate

“Listening to the people and walking on the ground around Belmopan, it has been an eye opener.  We’ve seen a lot of injustice to the people.  To a certain extent I, never knew that the poverty level that, although we’ve been on TV talking about minimum wage, we’ve been on TV talking about injustice.  I was not opportune to a certain extent to walk to homes where you can actually see people living from hand to mouth, where people, as we say, have not eaten for the day.  I wish I could find something to do.  Going to these homes, Brother, it’s an eye opener.  People are suffering in Belmopan.”

 

Born in Nigeria and migrating to Belize as a young adult several years ago, Amadi is one of six aspirants challenging the seats at City Hall.  They are led by another candidate who is confident in becoming the first woman mayor of Belmopan.  Among her areas of interest is the strengthening of human capacity.

 

Tanya Santos

Tanya Santos, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate

“In terms of human capacity, we have a lot of… Belmopan is a city of public officers, so we do have that capacity here, but we also have a lot of retirees here and we also have a lot of youth.  We need to partner that, those two sets of communities, the youth and the retirees.  Looking at a mentorship program for our young people; our retirees have a lot to offer still, that can help to support our young people, even help to support the city council with brilliant ideas that they may have for the further development of our city.”

 

With the advancement of Belmopan in mind, Cesar Ross, an educator at the University of Belize, is also offering himself.  The social historian admits that the time to put words to action is now.

 

Cesar Ross

Cesar Ross, P.U.P. Councilor Candidate

“We’re at a point in time in our history where there is, there seems to be a move away from the concept of social justice and the ideals of making sure that no child is left behind, making sure that whether primary school, high school, as we walk around we begin to see that there’s a lot of people being left behind.  And as an educator I kept coming across, I kept meeting students who were the exceptions in their family rather than the norm and so it became more and more a challenge and as I discussed certain issues in my classes in ethics, in sociology, in history, my students more and more kept saying, “Mr. Ross, you need to step up.  If all of the changes that you talk about and you envision are possible, they are not being realized.”

 

And that was all the impetus that Ross needed to come forward as a candidate for the People’s United Party.  His entry into electoral politics, however, comes at an important juncture for the P.U.P.

 

Cesar Ross

“It’s a critical time and it’s a critical slate as such.  The People’s United Party took pains to make sure that the slate was reflective of the whole of Belmopan City.  It was reflective of the capacities necessary for good governance of a city as such.  I took the time last year to specifically launch my campaign on the first of August.  As a social historian, emancipation, social justice, reparations, all of these things are very, very important to me as such, and so while I have been working with marginal and indigenous communities for most of my adult life and my education and my thesis, my writings have been about the empowerment of indigenous and marginal people, I realize that at this point in time I needed to be part of the inside government.”

 

To earn that seat, Santos’ stewardship is essential.  Building on the momentum of Sunday’s massive national party convention in Belize City, the door-to-door campaign here in the forgotten areas of the Garden City is key.

 

Tanya Santos

“We started from July last year.  Actually Belmopan was well represented at the convention on Sunday.  We took eight busloads of people from Belmopan.  That is unprecedented for Belmopan, so you can see that momentum is building and that is because we have been on the ground.  We have not been campaigning just on Facebook or just on the media, we have been on the ground, in people’s houses every single day, Sunday to Sunday for the last six months and it’s been working.”

 

U.D.P. mayoral candidate and incumbent Belmopan Mayor Khalid Belisle was unavailable for interview today, however, we will join him on the campaign trail on Thursday.

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