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Feb 6, 2008

It’s veteran vs. newcomer in Belize Rural Central …

Story PictureShe has spent the last month traveling the length and breadth of Belize speaking to the candidates … and tonight, on election eve, Ann-Marie Williams presents the final two profiles in her campaign series. The first finds her in Belize Rural Central where one of the P.U.P.’s biggest and most controversial names is again challenged by a newcomer to the national scene.

Ralph Fonseca, P.U.P. Candidate, Belize Rural Central
“The same team that has transformed Belize, that has the experience that we need to give the people the change that they want should be the team that should move us forward from 2008-2013. If you want to go backward then you go with the other team who will try to reinvent the wheel. Everything has been working or when we’re challenged we’ve been able to fix whatever we’ve been challenged with and we haven’t ran away from it so why would you want to change?”

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting
It’s not an unusual argument for a sitting politician but the P.U.P.’s Ralph Fonseca is no ordinary incumbent.

The Belize Rural Central Constituency, which was created by the P.U.P. in 1993, has never known any colour but blue. This time, however, U.D.P. candidate Michael Hutchinson assures things will be different.

Michael Hutchinson, U.D.P. Candidate, Belize Rural Central
“I run first in 2003 for Village Council elections along with Mr. Lucio Cho and we won. Prior to that I run as an independent and lost by two votes. So those are the things that really prompt me now to go further and I believe that getting elected for the general elections I will be able to work harder for my community. The financial backing will be there. It’s not like in Village Council you have to be, how would you sat, be pampering the minister to give you some money for the area.”

Fonseca cited Ladyville, the largest and fastest growing village in his division as being a victim of its own success.

Ralph Fonseca
“The more you expand, the more challenges you have. In the case of Ladyville we have a tremendous water management problem as you know. So we have to keep the water moving as we fill areas to build houses or build schools or build the first high school that we built during our term in Ladyville. By the way our high school is doing extremely well. As you build those things you are moving the water on. The water goes somewhere else so ditches, drains, canals, maintaining the levels is a fantastic challenge. You have to keep up with it. Again, that’s why you need the experience. If you bring in a new person into Ladyville they won’t have the blueprint that we have had from the past, that we have been improving on everyday.”

Aware of all the improvements, Hutchinson says it’s not enough as basic amenities remain lacking.

Michael Hutchinson
“We don’t have a proper bus run, some of them are roads.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“A problem for mile eight.”

Michael Hutchinson
“Right, you know some of them are roads. Mile eight has a flooding problem. I guess proper landscaping was not done when the area was hurriedly being developed or give away lands. That is something that, you know the people are there you gonna have to addressed properly by our government. Other areas are electricity. You have some areas in Gracie Rock that haven’t got electricity yet. For the past ten years they have been promised, promised, promised and I want to fulfill those promises. Other areas are just the minor things but they are a concern to people and I believe they must be addressed.”

One issue which must be addressed according to Hutchinson is vote buying.

Michael Hutchinson
“Look at the bigger picture. If I tell you fifty dollars for your vote then after I get into office I don’t have to look at you because I have bought, I have paid you, I have bought your vote. So don’t come to my office. Don’t come and ask me “oh yo si mi road?” I wah seh “hey, if you mi want I tek care a yo road yo neva mi wah tek the fifty dollars. Yo mi wah come out and be patriotic look at the issues of the day, look at all the promises that the P.U.P. has promised us ten years ago, see if they has fulfilled those promises and vote on the issues”.”

Ralph Fonseca
“They have to think about statements made, for instance, by the leader of the opposition saying that Faber will be the next Minister of Education as opposed to who is the Minister of Education today. They have to look at those things. They have to look at the possibility of a Mike Peyrefitte being an attorney general, a Mike Peyrefitte being an attorney general as opposed to the attorney general we have today. Look at our candidates, look at our team, look at the experience we have.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“A lot of people in your area revere you, some revile you but what keeps you winning?”

Ralph Fonseca
“My people, they are the people that told me they wanted me to run again.”

In the meantime both Fonseca and Hutchinson are making their final appeals to the voters in Belize Rural Central, all five thousand, thirty-two of them. Ann-Marie Williams 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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