25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

How Yours Truly Got Into Politics...


I
got into politics in a most interesting way in 1971, and after I got in I remained committed to politics until 1991, when I retired.I was only 21 years old and I was curious about what was happening at a village council meeting held at the local cinema, Teatro Arenas. Present at the meeting was a PUP government minister, Honorable McKoy who was minister of local government. He was responsible to conduct village council elections.

There about thirty men at the meeting and one young boy, no women. The minister conducted the meeting and said that the village council had been operating for several years and it was time to call an election.

So he opened the floor for nominations and the men started nominating. I remember they nominated Mr. Enrique Staines, who was the present chairman or alcalde as they call them in Spanish. After that they nominated Ovidio Guerrero and some other guys. Finally someone nominated me and I was asked if I did not mind being in the village council. I was afraid to say “Yes”, but then too bashful to say “No”. After that all present applauded and I guess they were telling me that I was welcome. After that somebody got up and made a motion that the nominations should be closed.

And so I was a member of the new San Pedro Village Council for the period 1971 to 1974. Mr. Staines was elected by the six other councilors to be the chairman and then Mr. Staines said that because I had a little education I could be his secretary. I humbly accepted.

For three years I attended several meetings, made some trips to Belize City to speak to ministers and did some projects for San Pedro. I recall participating in some beach cleanups and cemetery too. I did not receive a penny as a stipend. On the contrary, when it was the tenth of September, I had to donate a chicken for the food sale at the park. I liked that. We had no Christmas parties, but we were still happy.

After three years I was nominated again and served as treasurer under Tabito Arceo as Chairman. I think he did six years and I stuck with him. Around 1980 Gilberto Gomez was elected chairman and I remained with the team. By then there were such prominent figures like Pete Salazar, Nicolas Varela, Betito Marin, Luis Nuñez, and Tabito Arceo too.

It was at this time that we started lobbying for San Pedro to become a town because as a village we collected very little, practically nothing. We got township in 1894 and the following year we had our first Town Board Elections. This time around the UDP did put up an opposition for the first time ever in 1985. Interesting again, my team did not consider themselves politicians so we ran as the San Pedro United Movement (SPUM). We beat the UDP three to one. After three years both the PUP and the UDP wanted us to run under their banner. We chose to run PUP because we loved the ways of Mr. Price. We beat them this time around three to one again. And again I ran for my third term and we won. I was deputy mayor and was offered the mayorship on several occasions, but I declined. I was not interested in titles. I worked for a $50 stipend a month. After that politics started getting too hot and nasty and I decided to quit and so did some of my colleagues.

I have worked under a UDP national government and a PUP government as well. I can tell you it is a terrible experience to work under an opposition central government. They embarrass you, shame you, insult you, and give you not an ounce of help. Mr. Goldson, may he rest in peace, had a sweetheart and she was a pain in the neck. That is how I got to not like Manuel Esquivel, Mr. Goldson, and Derek Aikman who even tried firing me from my job as Principal. Now I am out of politics, but I understand politics. I feel that when you go in there to serve you do a good job. Others go in there trying to fill their pockets and they do a lousy job.

Today, I try to figure out who is trying to be there to fill his pocket. Twenty Five years ago is not a bias voter. He is a wise voter, and I simply encourage my dear readers to be wise too.


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