When the Peoples United Party (PUP) in Belize was defeated by the United Democratic Party (UDP) by a margin of 25 to 6 seats in February of 2008, it led to the stepping down of the then Prime Minister Said Musa the PUP Party Leader. A convention was held shortly thereafter to replace him between Francis Fonseca a relative of Ralph Fonseca and John Briceno an aspirant from Orange Walk Town. Mark Espat another aspirant for the office,was planning to enter the race but withdrew his candidacy due to the procedures that were being set up by his party which favored Francis Fonseca. He then decided to throw his support behind John Briceno along with his brother-in-law Cordel Hyde. John Briceno to the surprise of many in the party, won the convention and he became the new party leader. John Briceno in the name of party unity tried to reach out to Said Musa, Francis Fonseca and Ralph Fonseca but they all refused to support him as the new party leader. Briceno appointed Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde as two of his Deputy Leaders along with others and gave executive positions to other party stalwarts to try and obtain their full support as leader.
At the time of his party’s defeat at the polls, the new UDP government was conducting a criminal investigation against the former Prime Minister Said Musa and the Housing Minister Ralph Fonseca for diverting millions of dollars that was sent to the poor people of Belize by the Venezuelan government for housing. That money was said to be used to pay off a debt to Belize Bank owned by Michael Ashcroft for money that was borrowed by a private health corporation with the namedUniversal Health Services. Criminal charges were later brought against these two Ministers and John Briceno was not providing them with too much support as the party leader. They were later tried in court but the charges against both of these Ministers were thrown out by the court for insufficient evidence. During the trial phase, Said Musa gave the indication that he was thinking about stepping down from his seat and retire from politics but since the charges were dropped he is very active again. Ralph Fonseca on the other hand, has been in hiding since his defeat and is very seldom heard from. Out of all the PUP conventions that are currently taking place, there is no mention as to whether he is going to be seeking re-election for the seat he lost in 2008.
A Party Leader Convention was suppose to be held sometime late last year in which Mark Espat, Francis Fonseca and other members of the party were planning to challenge John Briceno for his leadership post. Before the scheduled convention date, John Briceno secretly held a meeting in the village of Pachacan in the Corozal District with the delegates from the party throughout the country and he got them to endorse him as the party leader.
Later on that same week, it was revealed that the convention which was supposed to be held in December of 2010 was cancelled. This move by John Briceno angered Mark Espat, Cordel Hyde and other members because they saw it as a gross abuse of power and a violation of their party’s constitution. Since then, they have failed to cooporate with their party leader John Briceno and have missed several meetings that were held in the House of Representatives. It is being rumored that they were seeking funding to look into the possibility of forming their own political party.Briceno was asked what he intends to do with these two Area Representatives for neglecting their constituents. To their defense, he said that they are grown individuals and they will come back to the meetings when they feel comfortable to return. These two Representatives took an oath after they were elected to serve and represent their constituents. For them not to attend the sittings of the House of Representatives just because they were angry with their party leader is in violation of their oath and a gross neglect of their duties as elected Representatives. The party leader should have reprimanded them for not attending those meetings and bring the matter to the party for further disciplinary actions.
Instead, this week it is being reported that he is promoting them back to their positions as Deputy Party Leaders. In the eyes of other people in the party this will make him appear as a confused, weak and inept leader. The people who were with him are going to loose confidence in him and his leadership. John Briceno must accept the fact that all these people who he is promoting, have no respect for him as the leader of the party and they continue to say negative things about him in the press despite all his efforts to win their approval as their leader. I know John Briceno from when he was a child in Orange Walk town while I was stationed there as a Police Officer. I also know his father and most members of his family. The nonsense that he is tolerating his father Joe Briceno would not tolerate. This reshuffling will not work because the people that he is promoting want to become the leaders of the party and will do any and everything in their capacity to undermine him as their partyleader. They do not even care if the party looses the next general election because they are only focused on becoming the next party leaders. Imagine what would happen if the People’s United Party was to win the next General Elections with John Briceno as the Prime Minister. They would possibly be re-shuffling the Cabinet every six months and nothing will be accomplished because of the amount of time being spent on re-structuring rather than structuring.