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Oct 7, 2013

Cayo North East prepares to trigger a recall

Former Minister of State and the disgraced Elvin Penner had until five p.m. today to bid his office adieu. That’s the ultimatum sent his way by P.U.P. leader Francis Fonseca. If Penner doesn’t resign, then the P.U.P. plans to force him out by triggering the recall mechanism. To do that, the opposition party needs to collect eighteen hundred signatures on a petition, and that’s just the beginning. This weekend the P.U.P. swung into action in Cayo Northeast, going door to door and hosting a rally in San Ignacio to collect those vital signatures. So did they reach their goal to initiate Penner’s political demise? We’ll tell you, but first we take you to the villages of Cayo Northeast, where on Saturday the grand old party tried to get its machinery up and running. Mike Rudon was out west and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The banners calling for Penner’s head stretched across the road in Esperanza village, one of seven villages which lie within the Cayo Northeast constituency. There was a base office set up in each of those villages, while teams went door to door with their petition forms trying to get residents to sign on. The goal is eighteen hundred signatures, and that’s just to trigger the process.

 

Joseph Mahmoud

Joseph Mahmoud, Chairman, P.U.P. Western Caucus

“Today what we’re doing we’re targeting seven villages in Cayo Northeast, being Esperanza Village, we have Santa Familia, Billy White, Duck Run One, Two, Three and also Los Tambos. We have one point person in each of those villages and we’ve set up since this morning at seven o’clock all of us and all the teams are on the ground. Basically what I’m doing is bouncing around through all the villages just to see that everything is being handled properly.”

 

Landy Habet, P.U.P. Political Officer, Cayo Northeast

“We have commenced a drive today, visiting the villages, and we have seven villages so we have seven teams, one in each village collecting the signatures from those people who are so aggrieved by what has happened. This is a big scandal, as we know. Even the Mennonite community from which he comes is aggrieved by what has happened. We believe that the Prime Minister has not come forth and satisfied the public demand for Mr. Penner’s resignation and neither has the punishment been severe enough for the crime that has been committed.”

 

Landy Habet

The recall mechanism was introduced into law by the United Democratic Party, so it is somewhat ironic that its trial run targets one of their own.Still, this is just the first step of a long process, one which if nothing else is serving to mobilize the P.U.P.

 

Landy Habet

“This is just the initial process to trigger the mechanism for the recall. When the time for the referendum comes up and we need that sixty-five percent they have to be there to own it…they have to bring out the people. The people have been informed about this. We have sent out flyers during this past week. We have been informing them via the local radio and we have been out yesterday informing them through a portable system that this is what the process is about. And this is why tomorrow in San Ignacio during the rally we will be explaining it a little further in more detail so that people can understand because we want them for the long haul. We don’t just want them for today and today, we want them to complete the entire exercise.”

 

Julius Espat, Deputy Leader, P.U.P.

“It’s a beautiful moment for us because we have all the players from the western region coming together and taking charge of different villages based on the structure we’re implementing so for us it’s a good exercise. It shows us how true the people are believing. People want change.”

 

But that change won’t come easy, and it will be an uphill battle to see this recall through to an end. Even as the party struggles to cover all bases, Habet says that people are still afraid of being victimized.

 

Landy Habet

“The fear is always there. The government of the day has operated in that fashion before. We have evidence of what has transpired on previous occasions and even conventions where people have been a little scared of participating in our conventions, especially those public officers who have a job to protect. However we have been getting calls from these people, especially public officers that we go to their homes and we take along a Justice of the Peace to witness their signatures from home. So whatever we cannot get out here, they are asking us to go to their homes, to please go to their homes because they want to sign but they just don’t want to be seen out here.”

 

Gina Tillett

Gina Tillett, Assisting in Signature Drive

“You have to come in with a valid ID and you have to be a voter for Cayo North East Division. We are presently working in Esperanza today. While we are focusing on the Esperanza people, if you vote in North East, you can also register here. You have to bring a valid ID—a voters ID, a driver’s license, social security, passport preferably. What we do is that we full in your name, voter’s ID, address, phone number and your signature has to be identical to the one on the document provided. We also to just ensure everything, we take a picture of the person’s voter ID as well—back and front—to verify everything because we don’t want the same thing that happened with the OCEANA thing. So that’s what we are doing today.”

 

According to P.U.P. Deputy Leader Julius Espat, the party is looking far ahead and as far as recalls go, it’s open season on the U.D.P.

 

Julius Espat

Julius Espat

“Everybody is online and what Castro did is unacceptable, what Mark King did is also unacceptable. But you see the people of Belize need to realize one thing. When a poor gentleman does something, he is instantaneously arrested; he goes to jail, he has no recourse. But when a politician does it, you see all kind of defense. The Prime Minister goes on the television and defends him to the no mo’, no mo’. Well a politician is no different than a regular Belizean and that is where we need to get at; that they need to be held accountable for their actions—P.U.P. and U.D.P.—and this is the time for us to test it. People have to stop complaining and put their frustrations and putting it to action. And this is one of the way we can put it to action.”

 

And residents seemed to be ready to take action, signing their names to the petition without hesitation. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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1 Response for “Cayo North East prepares to trigger a recall”

  1. melvin says:

    hope dean barrow no come with excuses like the offshore referendum signatures? let the poeple decide mr.barrow not you? the people elected you and let the people decide once again.”

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