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#458259 - 02/18/13 01:49 PM Gaspar Vega wins at UDP Convention
Marty Online   happy
UDP CONVENTION GASPAR VEGA VICTORIOUS OVER PATRICK FABER UNCONFIRMED:331 TO 233

Unofficial reports indicate that incumbent first deputy leader of the United Democratic Party Gaspar Vega has successfully met the challenge for the position by Collet representative Patrick Faber. Vega retained his position as first deputy leader of the ruling party.

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#458333 - 02/19/13 02:05 PM Re: Gaspar Vega wins at UDP Convention [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

A Clash Of Competing Ambitions At UDP Convention

The UDP held its national convention on Sunday in Corozal Town. It was a much hyped event because party Chairman Patrick Faber dared to do what had never been done before in Belize's political history: he challenged the sitting Deputy Prime Minister for his post as party leader. The result of that challenge was a tough and acrimonious campaign - and the ambitions of Vega and Faber collided in a political crescendo on Sunday. When it was done: only one would be deputy and the other would be staring into the political abyss. High stakes, and 7news was there to tell you how it all played out. Jules Vasquez reports:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
Patrick Faber invested his money in signs - like this larger than life one that stood at the western edge of the Andres Campos Civic Center - serving as a backdrop for the event.

Vega's side wasn't as heavy with the signage. His were just regular size billboards - which projected the fact that he had an endorsement from the party leader.

Interestingly all the t-shirts we saw were for Vega - Faber didn't invest in a single one for the convention- and those we saw were leftovers from the general election.

The stage was on the grounds of the Andres Campos Civic Center. All 31 standard bearers and caretakers were seated as thousands of supporters stood in the cool air of the open field.

The bulk of the crowd was seated under tents - making it a less than ideal setting to show the crowd of over five thousand who populated the field.

And while it was a buff crowd for sure - really only these people under the delegates tent mattered.

They are the 567 delegates who would vote for Deputy Leader, Chairman and Vice Chairman.

Before the voting, the 6 persons vying for the three vacant post took the stage in a show of unity - Deputy candidates Faber and Vega embracing in the middle of them.

But that's where the niceties were suspended for the next few hours as there was fierce competition for the attention and affection of voters as they walked the gauntlet to the inside the civic center where voting was held.

Crowd chanting
"Gapi!!!"

No cameras were allowed inside, but outside it was like a political festival complete with Gapi hugs, Patrick hugs embraces of all kinds, handshakes and famous last words from candidates on both sides.

The truth is that over the weekend leading up to the convention the candidates had personally met with each of these delegates - many of them multiple times. Many of the delegates had given assurances - and only at the end of balloting would each candidate find out how bogus some of those assurances were - and how fleeting these affections are - such is the convention process - within political families there are always mixed loyalties.

And at the end of voting - there was and the inextricable shoulder lifting - two in a row in this case and while counting started - Faber's group went into celebration mode.

And while he was arm in arm with triumphant supporters - the candidate was feeling the pressure - with a pool of less than 600 voters - the underdog has no room for errors.

The celebration would be short lived through; by 3:30 pm - James Swan - one of Faber's biggest supporters came out of the counting room to break the bad news - Vega had clinched with more than 280 votes.

And by 4:00 pm, the candidates emerged - hand in hand to a crush of supporters. Vega had won by a margin of 98 votes and was hoisted decisively atop the shoulders of supporters and arm in arm they took the stage.

But only one would give the victory hail to the crowd while the other took his seat - and appeared as magnanimous as could have been mustered din view of the nasty campaign. And true to the spirit of the moment, the Prime Minister was gracious.

Hon. Dean Barrow
"To the Minister of Education, you sir, continue to distinguish yourself and there if ever there was any doubt that you were the total package, that doubt has been stilled this afternoon. You have always been a lion in victory; today you were gracious and magnanimous in defeat. That is the true measure of a leader and that is why I continue to say that you sir represent the future of the United Democratic Party."

And Vega also said the right things:

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I want to give special thanks to my colleague the Minister of Education Patrick Faber for making the United Democratic Party proof to the people that we believe in democracy. Today we are marking a new day. A day where we can compete with one another and there is no bad blood between ourselves."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you all really able to move ahead in unity and not acrimony? We know it's been a very ugly campaign."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"It has not been an ugly campaign. It has been a very busy campaign. I think both of us had our different strategies. At the end of the day I think I was successful, maybe because my strategy works best."

Jules Vasquez
"A lot of people were saying that you wouldn't win lets a majority say the 120 in the north."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"It's difficult to tell who voted for or against, but I am certain that I got my fair share from the north."

Jules Vasquez
"Some people are saying that if the leader hadn't gone out on the line for you that you wouldn't have won."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"There will always be people that will think different from you or me or all of us. At the end of the day I came out victorious."

Jules Vasquez
"Your critics also say that its triumph of money - that you had more money than Faber and that's the deciding factor."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I wouldn't be able to know because I don't know how much he had spent. I can tell you that I spent a lot of energy; a lot of sweat traveling throughout this country from house to house, from delegate to delegate and I believe that is why I came out with the victory."

To the victor, the spoils, and to the loser the hurt:

Hon. Patrick Faber
"It does hurt; it is a lost, one of my first losses in fact."

Jules Vasquez
"Any hard feelings sir?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"None at all, I understand the process very well. I've observe these conventions in operations for many years. As you know I've been around quite a while around the UDP and this how it is."

Jules Vasquez
"Yes but why you dealt an unfair hand in so far as the unprecedented step of the leader having to come out and endorse your opponent?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"There is nothing wrong with that legally speaking in the party's laws and so on, so I don't think it's a legal issue in terms of our party but there are some who would say yes that it's a bit unfair. But you know that is now water under the bridge and we will continue to rally behind Mr. Vega as the Deputy Leader. I am of course still a very young man and I have time longer than rope, so I will be back."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, are you able to move on with working with harmony with Mr. Vega and the Prime Minister with all the bad blood that has taken place during this campaign?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"I wouldn't say that there is bad blood. The convention - we were on different sides and of course we said what we had to say for the campaign and all of that but at the end of the day make no mistake about it there is only one United Democratic Party, there are no splinters and I remain solid behind the leadership of the party."

Jules Vasquez
"I was told the Party Leader advise you not yet because really no one in political history has ever challenge a sitting Deputy Prime Minister for his deputy leadership."

Hon. Patrick Faber
"Lesson certainly learnt, but I will tell that I have no regrets about doing it. I would have felt much worse if for instance I had decided not to do this and then I would have had the "what ifs" thoughts for the rest of my life. I did this; I put my all into this as everybody knows that who I am. I believe I did all that I could do to win this this convention. There were some serious obstacles including the Party Leader's intervention in this struggle, but hey that's what politics is all about. I live to go on and fight another day."

"I think it was more a kind of loyalty to the party leader in many respects that people did not support me. Imagine that if 50 people - more people would have voted for me, that the results could have been completely different in today's convention."

Jules Vasquez
"You think if the Party Leader hadn't show his hand - that you would have won?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"Absolutely."

And while that's a bitter pill - Faber has to swallow it, and do it slowly because for those who would be leader, they'll have to wait a while - because this one isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Every so often I hear something is wrong with me. I am ill with this or with that. I want to tell you this afternoon that apart from the bad back I can deal with that. As far as I know there is a lot a damn thing wrong with me and as long as the good Lord continues to give me health and strength and as long as it is well wish I fully intend to lead the United Democratic Party into the next general elections."

Jules Vasquez
"You have been confirmed as the Deputy Leader for multi conventions now. Would you eventually seek to be the leader of the UDP?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I think it would be unfair for me to answer that right now Jules. I usually take life step at a time."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you still aspire to be leader of the UDP?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"That is something that I have to consider. You will agree with me that the turn out to the end - I believe I put my all into it, I tried as best as I could. There are no regrets in that regard because I did all that I could do and If all that I can do is simply not enough for people then you will admit I do need to do some re-thinking of things."

Jules Vasquez
"You said he was the future of the UDP. Obviously that future would have to wait a while. You just said that you are not in the retirement game. Would you support Faber for leader of the UDP one day?"

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Yes one day."

Jules Vasquez
"Is it clear whether Mr. Vega wants to also someday serve to be leader?"

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Not yet."

Jules Vasquez
"But if you had to choose?"

Hon. Dean Barrow
"Now you see.... no comment."

The result of the balloting for all three vacant posts is as follows: For Deputy Leader, Vega 331, Patrick Faber - 233. For Chairman, Alberto August 379, Roosevelt Blades 183. And for Deputy Chair, Fern Guttierrez - 372, Roger Espejo 180. All other positions were endorsed.

As for the crowd, in the story we said it was over five thousand - and the UDP - in a party release - said it was eight thousand. The official estimate puts it closer to seven thousand.

Notably, in a position paper passed by the convention, the UDP resolved to support the ICJ referendum process with a "yes" vote and encourages all registered voters to vote on referendum day.

Channel 7


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