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Oct 26, 2020

On the Campaign Trail with P.U.P. Candidates in Corozal

For three consecutive general elections, the electoral divisions in Corozal have been split between the two major political parties, the U.D.P. holding three of the four seats and P.U.P. one.  But is a blue tidal wave going to sweep over the north? On the campaign trail in Corozal, the People’s United Party is confident as its candidates met constituents, while practicing social distancing and wearing masks. News Five’s cameraman, Kenroy Michael and reporter Duane Moody were up north over the weekend and file this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

For years, the United Democratic Party has held two of the four seats from the Corozal District; they acquired an additional seat when Doctor Angel Campos won the 2015 general elections.  But the People’s United Party is determined to change that statistic come November eleventh. Corozal Southeast is the only division being held by the P.U.P.; its area rep is Florencio Marin Junior. This division spans many villages; several miles and two ferries from the town is the village of Chunox, which falls within Corozal Southeast. This is where we found Marin Junior.


Florencio Marin Jr.

Florencio Marin Jr., Area Rep, Corozal Southeast

“We don’t enter the home which does put a slight damper on the campaign. However, we are visiting house to house; we try to reach everyone who we can possibly reach. Every village has its own campaign team so this team is from the village of Chunox. When I go to Sarteneja, there is another team there; Caledonia, Calcutta and everywhere else. So we have a good team and we are doing all the preparation; the logistics, reviewing the voters list and preparing how we are going to take out the voters on election day because at the end of the day, it is about taking out the voters.”


In Corozal Southwest, Ramiro Ramirez won that division for the P.U.P. back in 2012 and he is planning a comeback and intends to unseat the Doctor Angel Campos. He was once the junior minister in the Ministry of Health, which was headed by Corozal Bay area rep, Pablo Marin. The P.U.P.’s David “Dido” Vega is taking a shot at the seat and in his opinion; the record of the incumbent will help to determine the results on November eleventh.


David “Dido” Vega

David “Dido” Vega, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Corozal Bay

“In 2008, the current area rep got eight hundred and ten votes in favour of him. After a number of years, he won by a hundred and fifty votes and the last time he got a hundred and forty-eight votes. But I will tell you something in my opinion; Pablo Marin should have lost from the first time I run again. Even his own mayor challenged him in a convention during that term. Now in 2020, if you look at the record, there is an independent candidate that is a former administrator of the town council that said that his heart is red and he is red, but he cannot support Pablo Marin once again.”


The Corozal North division was once a stronghold for the P.U.P., being held for many years by retired politician Valdemar Castillo.  His son, David has decided to take up the mantle and for the second time in a row is challenging the incumbent, U.D.P. deputy party leader, Hugo Patt. The younger Castillo was on the campaign trail this weekend in Paraiso Village, one of the ten villages within the division.


David Castillo

David Castillo, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Corozal North

“I am here with some of my campaigners in Corozal North doing a house to house visitation in Paraiso Village. I think by ending of October, I should have a hundred percent completion of my campaign, visiting all ten villages polling area forty-one which is the Altamira area. But I can tell you something, Corozal North will be returning back to its origins, P.U.P. We will be delivering Corozal North for the People’s United Party.”


While the entire country has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Corozal is arguably one of the hardest hit. With the closure of the borders, thousands had to be terminated from jobs at the free zone and the casinos, those who were employed in the tourism industry in the cayes, had to return home and so the level of joblessness is at an all time high. This, as well as land, is among the top issues of residents.


Florencio Marin Jr.

“The big issue in this area, particular Chunox, is land for housing. The area for thirteen years, we haven’t had lot expansion in this village and now I am finding a lot of young people forming their families and they have to live in the property of their parents. So that is one of the huge issues and I am foreseeing that if we from government, we are going to have to put a lot of work in that.”


David “Dido” Vega

“The number one thing when you reach into people’s homes is that they need jobs. So I think that yes, Corozal Bay is ready, is ready to go blue so that we can bring back the economic activity that we direly need in Corozal Bay. As you know the poverty rate before COVID was about fifty percent. I believe now with COVID, all the people that came from the island back to Corozal, all the people that came from Cayo back to Corozal have put a lot of financial strain on families. But I am definitely sure that the employment rate in Corozal Bay is high and the poverty rate is even higher that what it was before COVID.”


David Castillo

“For the past twelve and a half years, the area has been neglected, has been abandoned in every aspect, in every level. In the area of infrastructure, un-development of Corozal North. And when it comes to the aspect of agriculture, the cane farmers have been neglected and abandoned by this government. When it comes to new job creation; on the contrary, there has been a decline of almost seven thousand jobs in the Corozal District. Simply by the closing down of the papaya [industry], less one thousand five hundred jobs.  The free zone has declined from four thousand jobs to a meagre eight hundred jobs. Due to the closing down of these companies, many of our people went to the caye to seek employment. But because of the pandemic, now the tourism industry has closed down as well—it’s just partially open—whereby a lot of our people are back in Corozal with nothing. There’s absolutely no jobs. So that is the number one cry here in Corozal.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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