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Feb 21, 2018

U.D.P. Take Over Streets in Afternoon

In the afternoon, it was the turn of the United Democratic Party’s supporters to show their muscle in Belize City where just a week ago, the People’s United Party held a mammoth convention.  The U.D.P. brought out its top guns, including the Prime Minister and other ministers to make their presence felt, complete with bells and whistles.  Some scuttled but others braved the rains, as the red parade meandered to the nomination centre at the Charles Bartlett Hyde Building which sits in the south side; a stronghold that the P.U.P. says it has been chipping away. The incumbents, Dion Leslie and his team, led the parade; they want to retain control of the biggest municipality. Here is how it went with News Five’s Isani Cayetano.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

From an aerial perspective, the swell of supporters rallying behind the United Democratic Party is larger than the People’s United Party gathering earlier today.


Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Deputy Party Leader, U.D.P.

“I am at the front of the parade as you can see, and as I look back I can’t see the end.  So it must be a tremendous number.  We are thinking we’re at least at five thousand people out here today and that is a wonderful showing.”


It’s Nomination Day in Belize City and both political organizations have brought out hundreds, if not thousands, of followers to usher in their respective municipal candidates.  With all the pageantry of the U.D.P. on full display, it is safe to say that there are many among them who are simply donning the party’s colors as a means to an end.  The same can be said for the party in opposition whose crowd this morning also came out in large numbers.  This afternoon belongs to mayoral hopeful Dion Leslie and his slate of ten councilor candidates.


Dion Leslie

Dion Leslie, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate, Belize City

“It’s a humbling feeling, but overall I think it shows the overwhelming support from the city residents that they are happy with the work that the council has done over the past years and they want to see the work continue along with their cooperation and the cooperation of a U.D.P. central government.  So this is just testimony to all the work that we’ve done over the past years, you see it here today.”


Attesting to that is Prime Minister Dean Barrow.  As party leader he is also out in full support of the U.D.P. Eleven.


Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow, Party Leader, U.D.P.

“Obviously it’s a phenomenal turnout.  I think that it makes clear what I certainly have said when we had the manifesto launch.  People know that the U.D.P. city council has transformed the city, has improved lives so they have this excellent track record on which they can run and clearly the support is very much still there.”


For four-time councilor candidate Phillip Willoughby, today, like the past three nomination days, feels like the very first time he’s offering himself for public office.  Despite losing to Leslie in a bid for mayoral candidacy several months ago, his seat at City Hall is virtually uncontested.


Phillip Willoughby

Phillip Willoughby, U.D.P. Councilor Candidate, Belize City

“For me it felt just as the first time I took that first step, the first signing, the first application filled out, the same enthusiasm, the same passion, the same drive, the same love.  Nothing has changed with me.  My speed, I maintain the same speed that I took off with and that has remained constant.  [It] went into overdrive a couple times here and there, but hey, everything remains the same.”


…and perhaps that outlook speaks to the momentum that the ruling party continues to build upon ahead of March seventh.  Is it enough, however, to clinch all sixty-seven seats in local government?


Dean Barrow

“I wouldn’t go that far.  What I will say is that we are very strong all over.  So it is distinctly a possibility, but I will say simply that we have every confidence and every conviction that we will do extremely well.”


It’s a cautious optimism that may not apply for all nine municipalities.  Indeed the U.D.P. has strongholds in areas of the country, including Belize City.  That notwithstanding, the team put together by the People’s United Party is considered formidable, even for mayoral candidate Dion Leslie.


Dion Leslie

“It’s always a formidable challenge no matter what.  No one gets or puts their name in thinking they’re going to lose, so it’s always [a formidable challenge.]  You know, we campaign like crazy and we put in the work and the great part is about being incumbent, you know, you have the work that you’ve done over the years to show as proof that you deliver on what our mandate is.  We deliver the goods and services to the residents of Belize City.”


Aspiring politician Noreen Martinez is hoping that she too can be of greater service to Belize City.  It’s an expectation that is left up to voters beyond her Port Loyola constituency to deliver come election day.


Noreen Martinez

Noreen Martinez, Councilor Candidate, U.D.P.

“We’ve been doing such much great job that they want us to continue that’s why they are behind us, still continuing to support us.  And they say one more time and two more time we wahn still be eena power fi help serve them, fi help them with development and transformation and we wahn continue our job.”


And to ensure that Martinez, along with the other candidates on her roster are sworn in to office after March seventh, Port Loyola Area Representative Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez has been campaigning diligently.


Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez

Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez, U.D.P. Area Rep., Port Loyola

“I’ve been working tirelessly, doing a lot of extra political work over the last year and change.  As a matter of fact, in July and August we registered and transferred over four hundred people.  From the second to the tenth of January we registered ninety-four people out of a hundred and one that is on the list.  So I am renewed and re-energized politically.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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