The UDP convention season is underway - and while it occurs in what should be a political off season - many of the races are hotly contested. And the hottest one in the city was the first. It's in Caribbean Shores where relative newcomer Roger Espejo challenged incumbent Carlos Perdomo.

The convention was held yesterday at Trinity Methodist School in the King's Park area and 7news was there:…

Jules Vasquez Reporting
The area at Lopez Mateos park looked like a political carnival or like a general election with scrutineers combing the list - and the candidates at the gates - in close proximity with their camps arrayed into different areas, and plenty of political personalities on parade - mostly cabinet ministers, and party 5 star generals in plain and demonstrable support of their colleague, Carlos Perdomo - who was unusually upbeat:

Hon. Carlos Perdomo, Incumbent
"It's definite, you can feel it, you can see it."

Roger Espejo, Challenger
"I do believe it's going well. We are bringing out our voters consistently, we expect a surge after the lunch period but so far we are satisfied with what we are doing so far."

And while Perdomo had the support of his colleagues, one would think that Espejo had to be disappointed by the high profile position taken by his fellow councilor Phillip Willoughby - who did not support his council colleague:

Jules Vasquez
"Deputy Mayor, explain to me? - I would think that you would have supported your colleague in the City Council, its one for all and all for one that's what I thought?"

Phillip Willoughby, supporting Perdomo
"I'll let you in on a little secret Jules; I can't go against my family."

Jules Vasquez
"Mr. Perdomo is your family?"

Phillip Willoughby, supporting Perdomo
"Yes sir."

Jules Vasquez
"But suppose Mr. Perdomo was a PUP then? You can't base politics on family, Belize is too small. The fact of it is that you are letting your colleague with whom you want to someday appear on a slate or who will end up appearing on a slate with you because you are both strong candidates who want a future in politics. How does this work?"

Phillip Willoughby, supporting Perdomo
"You are putting biscuit with biscuit and crackers with crackers."

Jules Vasquez
"Yes but you are working for Mr. Espejo to loose, let's just be clear on that, you are working for the demise of your fellow councilor in his political aspirations. You should just try to help the man out, it's just axiomatic - the 2 of you all came out at the same time."

Phillip Willoughby, supporting Perdomo
"No I am not helping Mr. Espejo to lose. I am not helping him to lose, if he has what it takes to win he will win either way, it's not that I am running against him."

Jules Vasquez
"Yes but if you describe yourself as the 'greatest politician ever' etc, your presence here with Mr. Perdomo - you have to think this will help Mr. Perdomo. But certainly you have on your full apparels, your superman cap and all, you are out here as a mascot for Mr. Perdomo, therefore you are trying to defeat Mr. Espejo, that's just politics."

Phillip Willoughby, supporting Perdomo
"And I think there is a time and place for everything."

And this day was not the time and place for political personalities:

Philip "Fawda" Henry
"People have been suffering for a long time though the Belize City council, the drains and the streets are not getting done. Like I say you have to be on the inside to know. My good friend Roger works there, he is a councilor there and the work at city council is not getting done Jules, lets be real, the only person working there is 'Fawda' myself getting the streets and things done for the people, Roger is trying to go to another step, but the -reason why 'Fawda' is here supporting Mr. Perdomo it is because - let us go back to the controversy at city council with these auditor's report, Roger I am still your friend but you were the one who sign for 'Fawda' to get terminated, your signature was there. So I am here representing Caribbean Shores where I was born and grew up and as a senior citizen Jules I have to support Mr. Perdomo, come on Roger you have to go back but I am still going to be your friend but may the Lord be with you. Mr. Perdomo is going prevail, he is going to win."

Rowland Parks, rejected voter
"When I went to the booth and they announce my name was told that I was not eligible to vote because the 'candidates' have objected to my taking part."

Jules Vasquez
"On what basis?"

Rowland Parks, rejected voter
"I did an interview with Minister Perdomo and at the end of the interview I ask him why he objected to my taking part in the convention and he said that because I am a known PUP activist, I just started laughing because I am not a known PUP activist."

Jules Vasquez
"But you are a known PUP Rowland?"

Rowland Parks, rejected voter
"I support PUP, I do work for PUP, public relations related work but I am not an activist."

Jules Vasquez
"But you will accept that at a party convention, only party supporters should vote, you are old enough in politics to know that."

Rowland Parks, rejected voter
"I thought it was an open convention and everybody could vote. Once you are registered in a division you have a right to say who you would like to represent you in that division."

Andrea Hamilton, rejected voter
"In Mr. Perdomo way, he let the front vote and the he reject the back of Kelly Street because the front is Freetown 53 Kelly Street and the back is 53 Kelly Street, he rejected the entire back but the front can vote."

Jules Vasquez
"But you are a Caribbean Shores voters, but then what he is saying is that PUP is infiltrate."

Andrea Hamilton, rejected voter
"Yes, so he is saying that we are strong PUP and he is saying that we will not vote for him so he just rejects our names off the list."

Jules Vasquez
"But you are a PUP?"

Andrea Hamilton, rejected voter
"Yes."

Jules Vasquez
"You are not to be voting in a UDP convention."

Andrea Hamilton, rejected voter
"That doesn't means anything because its red against red, it's not like blue against red. When he was running I voted him in against Mr. Coye, I voted him in."

Jules Vasquez
"But you say that you are a PUP, you voted against Mr. Coye?"

Jules Vasquez
"Is that fair, unfair? How is that officiated?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"Well we make it know that this is not a public convention, this is not a general election where everybody who is registered on the elections and boundaries voters is entitled to vote. This is a party convention and we reserve the right to determine who it is that's going to vote in our conventions. They are term open conventions in that we do use the official election and boundaries voters list as the basis but we sit down with all camps, all parties involve and we decide then on who they believe strongly enough where there is a difference of opinion the party makes a ruling on certain people who we believe are not party supporters."

Jules Vasquez
"Does that judgmental subjective process, does that then open itself to abuse?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"It's almost like if you are calling my judgment in question now. I am telling you that I officiate over these conventions, it doesn't matter how many of my colleagues are in support of one side or the other. I try to be as fair as possible."

But - this is politics at the end of the day it wasn't about fair, it was about muscle, machinery and money:

Hon. Boots Martinez, Working For Perdomo
"I think that at this point that we do this interview we are kind of a little way ahead in my view. I was the person responsible for organizing the 'first lick' and at 10 o' clock as the poles open - I don't know if you were here but at least we had like 100 people voting so to start with the bottom of the box is for me and then I will put 100 'lick' on you; you go for one and I go for one. Well I bring 3 just now so then we go from there."

Jules Vasquez
"I see you have a lot of institutional support. Probably as expected from the UDP a lot of the ministers are here supporting you. I see councilors here, I see area representatives here supporting you. Is it just a case of the institution enfolding you to protect itself."

Hon. Carlos Perdomo, Incumbent
"You could say that of course, but it's more than that. i think these people while we are all UDP, also know me. We've been friends a long time, we work together, so it goes beyond institution, it's a certain personal commitment to their support also."

Jules Vasquez
"The UDP has brought out a lot of institutional support for Mr. Perdomo, various ministers, councilors etc, out here wearing his shirt. Is that intimidating to your side? It is disappointing? Would you have wish they at least not show their hand?"

Roger Espejo, Challenger
"No, that's expected and such is politics so we are not intimidated."

Jules Vasquez
"You see mostly Mr. Perdomo shirts out here. Is that an indication that you are being out funded or that you are being under supported?"

Roger Espejo, Challenger
"Neither, we have probably just as much shirts."

Jules Vasquez
"You haven't bring them out yet."

Roger Espejo, Challenger
"Not yet."

Jules Vasquez
"But I mean it's only a 7 hour day, it's not a 7 month campaign."

Roger Espejo, Challenger
"Exactly, but it's still early, it's not even 12 yet, we still have 5 more hours to go so we are proceeding with optimism but at the same time progressively."

Jules Vasquez
"Just a personal observation, you don't seem exuberant, you seem cautious, guarded perhaps apprehensive, that's just my perception. Mr. Perdomo as I have spoken to him seems loose particularly for him. Am I misreading?"

Roger Espejo, Challenger
"Perhaps, we just want to remain calm and we just keep our eyes and ears open, that's what we are doing. We know that the ground work we have done before today is really has bearing on bow people vote. Our demeanor today has very little influence on how people vote. People that come here already knows how they will vote."

Jules Vasquez
"So if am interpreting you to seem to be overwhelm, you are not."

Roger Espejo, Challenger
"We are calm and at the end of the day we will have reason to be overwhelm."

Jules Vasquez
"Why are you all so intent on protecting the status quo?"

Hon. Boots Martinez, Working For Perdomo
"But we are cabinet colleague, we are colleagues, protect and loyalty counts in everything my brother."

Jules Vasquez
"But then at the same time perhaps the division needs a infusion of fresh blood."

Hon. Boots Martinez, Working For Perdomo
"That infusion of fresh blood will come from the people. If that is what they want the people will be making that decision today. But I am telling you that there is no infusion of no new blood here today. It will be Carlos Perdomo again as representative for Caribbean Shores."

And Martinez was right, Perdomo won 385 to 695 - a margin of 310:

Jules Vasquez
"Now at the end of the day, win, lose or draw, will you have the good grace to be able to shake hands with Mr. Espejo?"

Hon. Carlos Perdomo, Incumbent
"That's not even a question really because in everything that I have done, with Mr. Ayuso winning the convention there, with Deputy Prime Minister Vega - when we lost, that has always been the case so it won't be very difficult for me. That will be the best thing for us to do after this convention."

The polls closed at 5:00 and the winner was apparent by 6:00 pm. A total of 1,097 ballots were cast.

The next UDP convention will be in Orange Walk East next Sunday and that one promises to be far fiercer than this one. The incumbent Marcel Cardona is being challenged by two opponents and unlike Perdomo does not have the support of Cabinet, in fact, it's fair to say the party - including Northern Boss and Deputy Party Leader Gaspar Vega would be happy to see him lose. We'll be following that one next week….

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