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Jul 11, 2022

Dr. Theodore Aranda Passes Away at 88

Doctor Theodore Aranda, the former United Democratic Party leader, has passed away. Doctor Ted Aranda, as he was affectionately known, died on Sunday, July tenth at the age of eighty-eight. Doctor Aranda’s political career began in 1974 under the United Democratic Party. His career in politics ended in 2003 as a member of the People’s United Party. During his almost three decades in politics, Doctor Aranda was a force to be reckoned with in the Dangriga constituency. He won the seat for three non-consecutive terms, one under the U.D.P. banner and two with the P.U.P. He is remembered for his protest to Belize’s Independence and his advocacy in favor of advancing the Garifuna culture. News Five’s Paul Lopez takes a look at Doctor Theodore Aranda’s life in politics. Here is that story. 


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Dr.  Theodore Arana began his career in politics in 1974 when he joined the United Democratic Party which was formed in 1973 as an alliance between the National Independence Party, the People’s Development Movement, and the Liberal Party. Today, we spoke with a founding member of the U.D.P., former Area Representative for the Mesopotamia Division and Michael Finnegan about his acquaintance with Dr. Aranda.


Michael Finnegan

Michael Finnegan, Founding Member, U.D.P.

Dr. Aranda joined the U.D.P. shortly after the U.D.P.’s defeat in the 74 General Election, which for the first time we won six seats in that election. And, Aranda contested the 79 General Elections where the U.D.P. did not do as well as we did in 74.”


In the 1979 elections, the United Democratic Party lost one of its six seats in the House of Representatives. Following the election, Dr. Theodore Aranda, the then newly elected Area Representative for the Dangriga constituency was named the Leader of the U.D.P..


Michael Finnegan

“The Leader of the Party then, which was Dean Lindo, lost his seat, and so we had to appoint a new leader. At that stage in the Party, the leadership was appointed by those who win their seats in the House of Representatives. So, those who won their seats in the House so chose Dr. Aranda to be the Leader of the Party. So that was the rule back then.”


Dr. Aranda was the Leader of the U.D.P. at the time of Belize’sindependence in 1981. He protested Belize becoming an independent state.


Dr. Theodore Aranda

Dr. Theodore Aranda, Former U.D.P. Leader

“We won’t have nothing much to do with it at all. We won’t have anything to do with independence at this moment.”



“But you can’t stop it.”


Dr. Theodore Aranda

“We may not be able to stop it, but we don’t like what is being done to our country and our people. Britain is a very powerful nation, so we can’t stop her yes, but we don’t like what is being done to us.”



“So what you think is going to happen after independence?”


Dr. Theodore Aranda


“Not so much what I think is going to happen, but what I know is going to happen. Belize is going to be in a heap of trouble that is for sure.”


Michael Finnegan

“Aranda felts like several people in the U.D.P., the U.D.P. was afraid of the Guatemala claim and the British said that they were going to give us an appropriate defense guarantee. Everybody wanted to know what an appropriate defense guarantee, and the British could not define what an appropriate defense guarantee is. People were afraid.”


Dr. Aranda was at the helm of the U.D.P. up until 1983 when elected members of the party decided that Manuel Esquivel would lead the U.D.P. into the 1984 general election.


Michael Finnegan

He was in my view humble in his own way, but Aranda’s problem was that Dr. was living in Dangriga and the U.D.P. was that we had never won an election for almost thirty years as a Party, from a National Party, to the National Independence Party, to the People’s Development Movement, to the U.D.P., we have never won and election. And, the people within the hierarchy of the Party felt that Dr. Aranda was not doing much to generate the interest and steam so that the Party can forge ahead for the upcoming 1984 general elections.”


Shortly after his removal as Party Leader, Dr. Aranda left the party. He unsuccessfully contested the 1984 election under the Christian Democratic Party, a political organization he founded. In 1989 he successfully contested the seat, this time under the People’s United Party banner. Dr. Aranda won a third non-consecutive term in 1998 with the P.U.P. Apart from his often controversial character, Dr. Aranda’s leadership was marked by his passion for the advancement of the Garifuna culture in Belize. Decades after leaving the political arena, in 2014 Dr. Aranda publicly protested on behalf of a then employee at the then CIBC First Caribbean Bank who was reportedly being barred from speaking the Garifuna language inside the workplace.


Dr. Theodore Aranda

“Now, the young lady whom they are attacking, whose rights they are violating has tendered a resignation.  The first thing that we want to say to that young lady is it’s no longer her fight.  She should not tender her resignation, the bank must reject that resignation if and when it gets to them because by accepting the resignation they are indeed strengthening and emboldening the fact and indeed executing the fact that they are discriminating against her and that she is to accept the discrimination.  The answer to that is no!  They must reject that resignation by the young lady and instead of punishing her, instead of destroying her like that, elevate her to a higher position because she is elevating the quality and the competence of the bank.”


Michael Finnegan

“I have no doubt in my mind about Aranda’s loyalty to his culture. I have spoken with Aranda for hours and hours over that long period of time. I don’t agree with him in lot of things, but one thing I can safely say and I agree with him, Aranda was a cultural man, and Aranda was for the promotion and development of the Garifuna people and the entire southern part of this country.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez

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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