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Feb 4, 2008

P.U.P. veteran faces challenge in O.W. Central

Story PictureOrange Walk: the district where electoral spirits are perhaps running higher than anywhere else in the country. So in the final few days of the campaign what better place to profile. Tonight, News Five’s Ann-Marie Williams reports from Orange Walk Central.

John Briceño, P.U.P. Candidate, O.W. Central
“I have the confidence in the people of Orange Walk that they will re-elect me on February seventh. Most of these campaigners have been with me—a lot of them—since 1993 and new ones come on board with training and they get to know the people in their area. So as it is we can carry the word very quickly. We know who are our voters, where they are, where they live, what time we need to take them out. We already have the logistics with the vehicles, with the cooks who’s going to bring food where we’re going to eat.”

Jorge Castillo, U.D.P. Campaigner
“The campaign has been very encouraging, we have been getting good feedback from the people and I think the people are ready for a change in Orange Walk Central.”

John Briceño, the P.U.P.’s candidate who’s seeking his fourth consecutive term, is not denying that Orange Walk Central needs a change. He feels the change shouldn’t just be a candidate swap but an improvement in the quality of life.

John Briceño
“The economy, economy, economy, creating jobs for people, jobs and more jobs be it in agriculture, in tourism, aquaculture and the services industry. There’s so much and this country has so much potential. Our people are good people, they are intelligent people, they are hard working people and we need to be able to continue to produce opportunities for them.”

“In our new manifesto, in the Blue Print, we are saying that we want to set aside fifty million dollars over the next five years. Every year ten million dollars is going to be invested across this country in the municipalities in assisting them in fixing their streets, fixing their drainage, doing more streets and expanding the infrastructure.”

But things inside the P.U.P. camp haven’t always been honky dorey for Briceño. Having been a member of the G7 in 2004, continuing conflicts with official policy led him to resign from Cabinet and as Deputy P.M. in 2007. Today Briceño, who sits on the back bench, has emerged with a new perspective.

Ann-Marie Williams
“I like your tune and you sound different now; putting country ahead of party—which I think it should be that way. But have you become wiser?”

John Briceño
“Certainly. Everyday that we live we should take it as a challenge and that we learn everyday. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I was given to be the deputy prime minister. It’s really, it has been a privilege to me, an honour to be the deputy Prime Minister.”

The U.D.P.’s candidate Rosendo “Chendo” Urbina, a former member of the P.U.P., is also grateful to have been given the chance to contest the election.

Rosendo “Chendo” Urbina, U.D.P. Candidate, O.W. Central
“It was very difficult to get people to run in this division because my opponent is a very powerful politician; he has been in politics for so long and people thought that he was invincible so it was very difficult. It was not easy for me to decide to run also because health wise; you have to be healthy, I am not a very young person but I took up the challenge and right here you find me.”

A challenge this businessman, who owns the A&R stores, says he has to grapple with daily because of the needs of almost six thousand voters.

Rosendo Urbina
“People are concerned about their health. If you are not healthy, you cannot go to work, if you are not healthy you cannot go to school. If you are not healthy everybody in the family feels bad. So health is number one. And what we need to do is we need to begin to take care of our senior citizens; that is what I am noticing in health.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“What are your plans for them?”

Rosendo Urbina
“What I think is that we should have these people that can be visited or they can visit the hospital and a doctor can tend to them separately. It won’t take much, maybe an hour or half hour and provide them with their medications because what I am finding out is that these people cannot buy seventy-five dollars worth of medication every month. Maybe they are on a pension, maybe they don’t have any family.”

Urbina also wants to improve tertiary level education in his division, having been a teacher for almost three decades.

Rosendo Urbina
“I want to make this sixth form right here—I don’t want to build anymore sixth forms. I want to build, I want to keep the one that we have right now and turn it into a branch of U.B. That is what I want to do. And the ITVET right here to be a sixth form like the one we used to have in Technical College. I want to see that in Orange Walk right here in education. I want to make sure that we have more preschool here in Orange Walk”

As candidates stump for the very last vote the need for committed campaigners cannot be overemphasized.

John Briceño
“The woman are the best campaigners that we can find. As a general rule, they are more loyal and they are there. They know it’s easier for them to go into the homes and to talk to people so for one reason or the other we tend to have more women campaigners and many of them have been with me for a very, very long time and they do that not because of the money but because they believe in the party and they believe in me as their representative.”

Political wives are front and center in the U.S. campaign and can be seen canvassing along side their husbands. But in Belize the wives are, for the most part, noticeably absent.

Ann-Marie Williams
“Undoubtedly the campaign season takes its toll on everyone politically as it enters the homestretch. However, the only thing more difficult than being the candidate is actually being married to him.”

Rossana Briceño, Briceño Wife
“I think what helps me, basically is that I have another life. My life is not attached to Johnny Briceño and I am not Mrs. Johnny Briceño. I am Rossana Briceño and that keeps me going; my life at school.”

Rossana Briceño is the principal of St. Peter’s Anglican School in Orange Walk. This mother of three is also a special education teacher, which doesn’t necessarily prepare her for the rigors of a rough and tumble campaign.

Rossana Briceño
“They want to curse you and tell you “how you noh wah know weh your husband deh? You da di wife” but we don’t. really and truly, I don’t. Sometimes you get worried when you ten-thirty, eleven o’clock and you ask yourself, “Jesus, how can they still be campaigning at this time, I’m sure people should be in bed.” And I would take my phone and just call him and just gently say “you noh think da time fi come home?” and says “I’m on my way home”.”

Tomasa Urbina, Urbina’s Wife
“Before he entered into politics, I was opposed to it totally, totally. I didn’t want him to go in there.”

Ann-Marie Williams

Tomasa Urbina
“Because I think politics is dirty, we have our business, we are comfortable, we don’t need to do this. But when he saw the issues that was happening in the country then he decided he had to do something about it.”

Ann-Marie Williams for News Five.

News Five’s political coverage continues later tonight with an in depth interview with U.D.P. leader Dean Barrow immediately following the newscast.

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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