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Jul 30, 1998

Magistrate hears objections to Cayo North voting list

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In political news, these past several days have been used by both major political parties to pursue claims in court that various persons on the voters list ought not to be there. Today News Five’s Patrick Jones headed out to San Ignacio to see how the process was working in Cayo.

Cayo North representative Salvador Fernandez came to court this morning with his lawyer, not in his own defense, but to fight to keep the names of over sixty people in his constituency on the voters register. Attorney Lisa Shoman on the other hand, led the P.U.P.’s charge that the majority of the people on the list are not resident in the division.

Salvador Figueroa, P.U.P. Cayo North Campaign Manager

“We will not bother to object the nationality, even though these people were just issued nationality for the most part, but we are saying that in fact these people live outside of the Cayo North boundaries. In one instance we have somebody who got a certificate of nationality signed, shows clearly on the certificate their residence as St. Matthews, which is outside of these boundaries, and five days later registered to vote in this division and claiming a different residence. What we are saying is that these people just simply do not belong in this division.”

Inez Fernandez, U.D.P. Campaigner, Cayo North Division

“Well, I see it differently because they are objecting to about sixty two persons that live at their current addresses. These people have water bills, telephone bills, land papers, their wife are in the house, they have children… They live in the addresses and the people are saying that they don’t live there.”

While P.U.P. campaigners say they could not find some of the people at their given addresses, we were taken by U.D.P. campaigners to the home of Rosa Montero on the Benque Viejo Road, where she claims she, her husband and six children have been living for the last four years.

Rosa Montero

“I live here bout four years. Two lady co ya, one clear one and wah skinny one. She co and ih co give mi di paper and she tell mi fi mek I no go vote fi nobody.”

Another objection was in the case of Juan Fernandez, whose stated address was Back Street. Shoman argued that Fernandez’s name be removed from the voters list because he could not be found at home and furthermore that there are at least six different streets that are commonly known as back street.

Juan Fernandez

“They say that this address does not exist, that it has another name. But ever since I’ve been living here that’s been the address that I’ve always given. All my bills come to this address, yet they say this is not my address.”

Salvador Figueroa

“Clearly, due diligence was not done by Elections and Boundaries because these people should never have been put on the supplementary list. If the returning officer from this division had done his homework he never would have put these people on the list because when you go and the person says back street, no address or Bullet Tree Village, no address. What we try to do then is take the list and find these people. We were only successful in finding half of them, the other half we can’t account for, we cannot find them. They do exist obviously but, where, we do not know. But for the most part we think they are in villages in Cayo South and Cayo Central.”

But a campaigner for Minister Fernandez, his daughter Inez says it’s the P.U.P.’s that need to do more ground work, that up until recently a number of streets in the area were indeed referred to as back street.

Inez Fernandez

“It’s just clear, one point, they know that these sixty two persons will vote for the U.D.P. and they’re just trying to implement any kind of thing that they can to get these sixty two persons off the list.”

Figueroa says the fact that he is bringing so many objections to court is an indication that Salvador Fernandez is padding the voters list, while the candidate’s daughter says, it’s just politics as usual on the part of the objectors.

Salvador Figueroa

“Well, I think it’s an indication of how desperate Fernandez is; he is trying to pad the voters list as much as possible. He is telling these people I’ve gotten your nationality therefore you owe me your vote.”

Inez Fernandez

“My dad did his work together with other workers and it’s because they did it five years ago and they know what they went through to do this dirty work and they are just behind us because we did a clean work. We did it legal and they didn’t do it legal. We did ours legal. They are saying that the people don’t live at these current addresses and they do live, these people testified today that they do live at those addresses.”

Only one of six names that were dealt with on Thursday morning was actually struck off the register. How many more will suffer a similar fate, the magistrate says will only be known after all objections are heard. Patrick Jones for News Five.

At the close of business the magistrate had dealt with approximately half of the seventy-one names. Some objections were withdrawn by the P.U.P. due to misidentification of voters’ names. The process will continue tomorrow and is expected to include motions to put some new names on the list that were not there previously.

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