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Sep 29, 2008

P.U.P. and U.D.P. celebrate party birthdays

Story PictureThe two major political parties in Belize are celebrating birthdays. The oldest, the P.U.P. turns fifty-eight today while the U.D.P., turned thirty-five on Saturday. The P.U.P. is Belize’s first political party and was birthed when its founders, Leigh Richardson, John Smith, Phillip Goldson and George Price re-organized the then People’s Committee that was formed in the face of the devaluation of the Belize dollar. Since then, the P.U.P. has dominated Belizean politics in good and in bad times, setting historic records of victory and losses at the polls. Its single greatest accomplishment is the attainment of independence but the P.U.P. also takes credit for much development in Belize being elected to government more times than the U.D.P. has. As it turns fifty-eight, the P.U.P. is now in Opposition, having suffered a crushing defeat on February seventh, and is going through its own process of re-organization with John Briceño at the helm. In fact, a recent report by an independent audit on the February elections highlights ten issues at the core of the party’s defeat including corruption, cronyism, poor leadership, internal divisions and the Venezuela Funds fallout.

The opposition’s has been holding party activities and Acting Secretary General, Servulo Baeza, explained that the photographs currently on display at the party’s headquarters on Queen Street are to highlight the party’s history, and for the Party Leader, Johnny Briceño, the new mantra for the party is to re-shape and re-sharpen for the future.

Servulo Baeza, Ag. Secretary General, P.U.P.
“What we have here is a photo exhibit, which really highlights the history of the party and everything that we try to do is to put some of the critical areas that we want to highlight in terms of our past leaders. We have a section which shows the women of the P.U.P. We start off with Madam Liz, we have some of our parliamentarians; our past parliamentarians like Ambassador Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Ms. Sylvia Flores, showing how women have been involved in the P.U.P way up to the level of parliamentarians. We have sections with past leaders, of course, starting with the leader of the nation; Mr. Price, our past party leader; honourable Said Musa, our present party leader; Honourable John Briceño, our party’s secretary chairperson and then we have …you know. As you see behind us we have pictures just depicting different times of the party starting with Mr. Price and up to the present, yeah.”

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition
“What we’re doing is trying to start from the bottom up, getting people once more to reconnect to the party, to reenergize the party, to reenergize the base before we can do anything and that’s exactly what we have been doing over the pass month. We’ve just presented a report to the National Planning Council yesterday where we did an analysis of the elections as to why we lost and the way forward. We presented that and it was very self-critical of the party. I believe that out party is mature enough to look in the mirror and accept what our weaknesses are and what we need to do to move forward.”

And as the United Democratic Party celebrates its thirty-fifth birthday, it is holding the reins of government in Belmopan. The U.D.P. was born from a coalition of parties. Led by Philip Goldson who subsequently left the P.U.P., the National Independence Party, had successes in Municipal Elections in Benque Viejo, San Ignacio and Orange Walk Towns. Its history shows that in 1969, Dean Lindo challenged Goldson at an intra-party convention, but lost. In the early 1970′s, with Goldson abroad studying, and the Opposition weakened, a group involved with the Reporter newspaper—then owned by the Chamber of Commerce—formed the Liberal Party, led by Harry Lawrence, and including Curl Thompson, Paul Rodriguez, Henry Young and Manuel Esquivel. Their first move was to forge the formation of a united front including the N.I.P, People’s Development Movement and Liberal Party. The merger took place in 1973 and was the birth of the United Democratic Party. Since Independence the U.D.P. has won general elections in 1984, 1993 and 2008. At the head is P.M. Dean Barrow who led the U.D.P. to victory in 2008 national elections.
Both parties are now preparing for conventions for town council elections to be held on March fourth. It will be a test for both parties.

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