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#499572 - 01/06/15 10:01 AM Cayo North’s By-Election
Marty Online   happy
Right now in Cayo North, 13 ballot boxes from two polling stations are being carted over to the Center for Employment Training compound. That's the counting station for only the third divisional by-election in Belize's history. That means that in about two, or two and a half hours, we should know who the new representative for that area is.

Voting today started slow but when polls closed at 35 minutes ago at 6:00 pm, figures say the final turnout was 4023 voters or about 61% of the registered voters - that's in line with the divisional by-election in Freetown in 1993 where 60% came out.

And while the voters were slow to come out early on - the mass parties muscled in on the division and flooded the area with supporters from all over the country.

I was there in San Ignacio where the town was flooded with political operators shuttling back and forth between two polling areas. We start our coverage with the opening of polls in San Ignacio:

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
Out of 6,598 registered voters, only 5,056 are listed here at5 Polling Station 73 right here at the Sacred Heart Primary School. After a weekend of frenzy political activities, the day is finally here and polls have been open for over an hour and as you can see here supporters are coming in and while the polls are not inundated as yet, contingents from both parties will be streaming in because this Cayo North By-election goes down in history as the first by-election that has garnered so much support and attraction from all 30 constituencies.

Bullet Tree is the only village here in Cayo North where 1,542 out of the 6,598 voters are listed at this polling station. Strategically it is a pivotal area and a disproportionate number of political operators zoned in on this western village.

While you see a swarm of political activity behind me and scores of blue and red, what you don't see are the voters from Cayo North and that's because at eleven this morning, only 16% of voters came out and here at Polling Station 73, 14% came out."

So, who are these people behind? They are party supporters and political officials and they are dominating the front line and the voters, well, they are in the background and this is what happens when the political resources of all 30 focus on one. There is just a lot of people don't have much to do, but both parties say things are expected to pick up in the afternoon.

Reporting for 7News in Cayo North here in Polling Station 73, I am Courtney Weatherburne.


62 Percent Came Out to Vote In Cayo North By-Election

A total of 4063 voters came out - that's 62% of the 6598 registered voters. That is considered a respectable turnout for a by election, but significantly less than the 2012 general election where 74% came out.

Polling Area #75 in Bullett Tree had 74% turnout with 1,137 persons voting.

Polling area #73 in San Ignacio had only 58%, or 2926 of the 5056 voters coming out.

Again, the 13 ballot boxes have been taken to the Center for Employment Training and counting is expected to start shortly. That's about 300 votes per ballot box, so first results are expected by around 8:30 pm.


The Political Muscle of the Mass Parties In Cayo North

Indeed, there were many political personalities just standing around - doing, it seemed, something close to nothing. We spoke to many of them, and the two men who remained on the move: candidates Omar Figueroa for the UDP and Richard Harrison for the PUP. Here's what they had to say:...

Omar Figueroa, UDP Hopeful - Cayo North
"We got slowed down a little bit because of the rain, but it looks like it will hold up. We feel very positive."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, a lot of people would say it should be the easiest election to win because every division is helping you. While I see you working, you have all 30 constituencies assisting."

Omar Figueroa, UDP Hopeful - Cayo North
"The same for the other side. In fact the other side has been on the ground longer than our ministers and our colleagues from outside Cayo District - the other side has been on the ground more. So it's the same for both sides. Both parties are going at it. This election is about the people of Cayo North and who the people of Cayo North wants to represent them. That's it. It's not more complicated than that - it's about the people of Cayo North and today they will cast their votes and we will see."

Jules Vasquez
"The people of Cayo North might find it offensive if people go and campaign with the national figures like Mr. Vega, because maybe Mr. Vega didn't give me the land that I was supposed to get etc., or Minister Faber, because he didn't give me the education assistance - something. Many people have grievances against those in government - that's the natural course of things. Might that actually have a blow back on you in terms of affecting your popularity because you are associated with a government that's incumbent in a very direct way - they are campaigning for you."

Omar Figueroa, UDP Hopeful - Cayo North
"No, the people of Cayo North have embraced the members of the United Democratic Party. He walks around on his own and I have nothing but positive responses from people like Gaspar Vega, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister Faber and all the ministers that have come down to help me, I have been extremely grateful because the response from the people of Cayo North have been overwhelmingly positive."

Jules Vasquez
"In terms of turn out. What are you expecting and in terms of the final outcome?"

Omar Figueroa, UDP Hopeful - Cayo North
"We are pushing as hard as we can to get every single vote out. When it comes to statistics, we will get that after 6pm."

Jules Vasquez
"In terms of the election outcome, you are the favorite. Even the PUP says, they are the underdog."

Omar Figueroa, UDP Hopeful - Cayo North
"How can the PUP be the underdog? They won 3 out of the last 4 elections in Cayo North. If they lose this one and if they lose it big, something is seriously wrong with the People's United Party."

Courtney Weatherburne
"How is it going so far?"

Richard Harrison, PUP Hopeful - Cayo North
"It's going according to plan. We believe that the weather slowed down the turn out this morning and as usual in Cayo, what happens is after lunch the crowd starts coming in. It's exactly what we expected. Our voters are coming out and we are sure that we are going to deliver a victory today. We are still confident, yes."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Why the low turnout and does that fazed you and the party in any way?"

Richard Harrison, PUP Hopeful - Cayo North
"Well, you see how this government is a vindictive and corrupt government, they are using the people's money against the people. Look at this big muscle of red behind me okay and they were acting out their hooliganism show this morning and the police had to really put them behind that rope, which is where they belong behind the rope. The thing is that we don't have the resources of the government to use. We are using the resources of the people. We expect the turn out to pick up after lunch right up to 6pm we will be working nonstop because we are here to deliver this seat for the People's United Party and for the people of Belize."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Sir, and you also brought up a very important point as well, the UDP muscle - going to my next question as well - is that, their political machinery or their presence, so as you can see here very overwhelming. Does that have dis-spiriting or discouraging effect at all for you or your team?"

Richard Harrison, PUP Hopeful - Cayo North
"Not at all. They put up flags on every lamp post in Cayo North, spent over $75,000, but the hospital is leaking and don't have medicine."

Courtney Weatherburne
"How hopeful and optimistic are you about this by-election here today?"

Richard Harrison, PUP Hopeful - Cayo North
"Like I said, I am confident that we are going to deliver a victory. By 6pm when the last vote comes in, that's when we rest and then from there it's up to God and we trust in that."

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"Out here is a little bit chaotic in terms of the large crowds in front of the polling station, but I get the sense that our people are very organized and are being effective in getting out the vote."

Jules Vasquez
"How important is this strategically in the scheme of things? It doesn't change anything in the balance of power."

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"Well, that's correct, but it changes a lot in terms of the political configuration, the political perception. There is clearly far more at stake for the PUP than is for the UDP. As you say, we can hardly lose because if we lost today, we are in the same place. If they lose, instead of going forward, they are going backwards. So from that point of view, I think it is important. It will send all sorts of signals depending on the results. We feel confident. I don't want to sound in any way over confident and we certainly don't want to start giving the impression that we feel there is some unstoppable triumphalist march of the UDP."

Jules Vasquez
"You mentioned triumphalism and one has the sense being an outsider, that the UDP to use a creolism, it is overdoing. In terms of the blitzkrieg approach, has almost from an outsider again, a sort of a nauseating effect because we get the idea that the UDP is the dominant, most well-resource party in Belize right now, but you don't have to put it on, lay it on so heavy."

Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"I completely disagree with you and in fact if we weren't laying it on thick with a trowel, people would want to know whether this is the start of some sort of weakening, some attenuation on the part of the UDP. People expect that political parties exist to win elections and people expect that in any election especially a party in government will absolutely put forward its best effort. I believe that it will be by a significant margin today. I hear people talking about 3-1, I am not in that at all. I believe it will be by a significant margin. I believe we lost in 2012 just shy of 400. I think we are going to win by at least 400."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"Our people I think feel good and they feel that over the hours today, that they will be able to bring out the people they need to, to secure a victory. Some, we expected the town to be painted red. The Harrison campaign, they made certain decisions about what they wanted to put up and what they didn't want. So absolutely, we expected that, we are prepared for that and our people are absolutely not going to be intimidated by that. We have a plan and a strategy to bring out our voters first, the PUP base and then to reach out to other voters and try to get them to come out as well."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, I know as Party Leader, you don't have the job of having to count money as they say, but at the end of the day elections machinery is determined by how much money a party can spend. Are you all concerned that the UDP appears to be more flush with cash than does the PUP?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"No, they are. There is no question about that. They are absolutely more flush with cash than the PUP. But yes, money is an important factor in the election machinery as you said, but there are also many other critical factors. We believe we have the better candidate. We believe that candidate has a better message that he has been sharing with the voters of Cayo North, even though it's been over a short period of time and we believe we have very committed campaigners who are going to work very hard today to bring out the voters and there is a support team here for the candidate and our party. We think that those things we hope certainly will balance out the money effect if you like. But that's been our plan all along and that's what we are going to execute today."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, should Joseph Mahmud have helped you all out? Has that affected your campaign that he hasn't been present? Neither has Ainsley Leslie from what I am told."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"No, I don't think so. I didn't expect Mahmud to help us out. I never factored that into the campaign."

Hon. Julius Espat, Cayo South
"With all the money that the UDP has been spending, the spirit on our side is still very good. So, that's a good sign for us. As we walked in, people are silently giving us the thumps. It send a signal and hopefully that can be translated into votes. So I am comfortable in what I am seeing."

Jules Vasquez
"As the Deputy Leader for the west, is it incumbent on you to sort of deliver a victory here in so far as it is your responsibility really?"

Hon. Julius Espat, Cayo South
"The way we have design the campaign, it is a local campaign. If you are noticing all the generals, everybody that's in charge is, a local fight. So, in reality its Cayo North fighting the UDP."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, a lot of people say you are responsible for this by-election because Mr. Mahmud stepped out because of his conflict with you. I know you've denied that and that's fine, but at the end of the day, do you have a greater responsibility because you were involved in the fomenting of the circumstances which ultimately led to Mr. Mahmud departure."

Hon. Julius Espat, Cayo South
"So you said you wasn't sure and then you came again and then you......"

Jules Vasquez
"I said foment...."

Hon. Julius Espat, Cayo South
"I don't run away from the reality. The reality is a gentleman resigned. He was elected to serve his people and he has decided not to serve them again. So, we have a responsibility to put somebody else, so that we can move on. I won't get into the schematics and the details - that's what it is."

Jules Vasquez
"And then at the end of the day sir, what are you expecting? The leader says he expects a dog fight."

Hon. Julius Espat, Cayo South
"It is a dog fight, especially when you are the underdog, but we will fight to the end."


The Rest of the Political Machinery Involved In the Cayo North By-Election

And so...on this day full of so much news - the biggest news story is still unfolding in Cayo North. That's where right now counting is taking place for the Cayo North by election. There are 13 ballot boxes with about 300 votes each so counting should be finished between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.

And while we await that outcome - to keep the political energy going we go back to Cayo North form some more of the interviews we conducted today. We asked the UDP Ministers about the possibility of their presence actually alienating voters:..

Jules Vasquez
"Isn't there however a risk that when you go and campaign because maybe as Minister of Education, you didn't give my son a scholarship or I had ask for assistance and I didn't get any. These are the things happen in government. You can't please everyone - that when you go or the Deputy Prime Minister goes, some land issue with my family - that you all are actually a disincentive to vote UDP."

Hon. Patrick Faber, Collet
"Well I'll take that from the aspect that I know best - education and we've been very fair with the education resources in terms of its distribution."

Jules Vasquez
"But you what it is about fairness, people want fairness until it comes to me than I want special."

Hon. Patrick Faber, Collet
"The good thing is that we've distributed our resources in such a way that I think people are relatively happy with that."

Hon. Anthony "Boots" Martinez, Port Loyola
"I have to be honest with you, they had a lot of pending land issues in Bullet Tree here and the Deputy Prime Minister have been working here from since Omar's convention and 80% of the land problem - the main problem you had in Bullet Tree was the land issue of which 80% was straighten before even there was a by-election, so we have been engaging in terms of the people of Bullet Tree. We didn't even know this by-election would have been here, but to get the service to the people and to make sure that when election is called Omar Figueroa stand a chance."

Jules Vasquez
"Well he is a new comer. He has no taint on his reputation, but being in government for 7 years now, inevitably you have failed to deliver to a good number of people, or if people feel that you failed - maybe you give them 5 and they wanted 10 services, not money."

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Pickstock
"Two things really, I think it's the opposite would have been the case if in fact we did not show solidarity and support. People would have wondered how is it that he is running and we don't have the ministers and others supporting him."

Godfrey Smith
"On our side when we discuss the matter of bringing in people from everywhere, we were very clear to sound the alarm and if you are going to bring people, make sure they are able to fit in and have them zoned off and assign to particular areas of work otherwise yes, you end up with the result that the locals, the people who vote here, and you kind of observe it when you see them coming in. They don't really want to be bothered, they don't want to be pick up from their houses, they come on their own and they are basically, from my observation, oblivious to all the propaganda and all the haranguing and all the banners and posters and noise."

Jules Vasquez
"Isn't it a fact that this low turnout favors the UDP who superior machinery because machinery needs oil?"

Godfrey Smith
"Well, you have to look into this question of superior machinery. If by superior machinery, you are talking about the banners and the posters and the shirts - if that is your definition, then that will draw you to the conclusion you've reach. If our definition of machinery is knowing where the voters are, knowing how to get them out and listening to them when you've campaign to them and knowing that they will do the right thing then, I would have to reach a different conclusion from you in terms of what the status quo suggests."

Jules Vasquez
"Finally, it's widely acknowledge that the PUP is fighting for its life in this election in terms of it's the underdog. The UDP in terms of just muscularity and presence on the ground, the ubiquity of their signage, the large volume of campaigners - they have outmatch the PUP in that regard."

Godfrey Smith
"I don't know about the large volume of campaigners. They are large bodies in shirts - that's what they are. I don't know about campaigners. But the question is based on that?"

Jules Vasquez
"Based on that PUP would seem optically, the underdog and so the underdog is happy for a win while the overdog is disappointed at a small win."

Godfrey Smith
"I think that the pressure is actually on the UDP, after pumping all the money, after all the signage, after all the work and hype - I think the pressure is on them to win this election."

Jules Vasquez
"You know what makes up a government - seats and the PUP stands to lose one, a seat that it had. Now, jump high, jump low, these are the things that make up the government. Is that a concern for you just from a raw number perspective that the PUP could end up losing ground today."

Hon. John Briceno
"Obviously, we want to win every election that we participate and we are here today working hard and visiting people, talking to people, hoping that we can get them out in enough numbers to be able to win the election. We know that we are at a disadvantage. We know that the UDP's candidate has been out there from March campaigning. Unfortunately, in our case, Mr. Harrison had a little over a month to be able to get prepared for an election, so we have all these disadvantages over us. We want to win, of course we do, but we also have to recognize and accept the challenges that are ahead of us in trying to win this election."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"It doesn't matter what size we will win by. What is important is a victory. Whether you win by one, ten, fifteen, and hundred - a victory is a victory. If you win the election by one vote, then you will be there for another 5 years, so it doesn't really matter."

Jules Vasquez
"But at the same time though, the amount of work, resources, personnel that the UDP puts in, they are supposed to win by at least 500 or 300 and if they don't, it would mean that..."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"Election doesn't go like that Jules. The resources and the energies that you put in an election is to win the election. A win is a win."

Again, 4063 voters came out - that's 62% of the 6598 registered voters. And those votes are being counted at the Cayo CET compound right now.

Very rough preliminary figures say that UDP Candidate Omar Figueroa has amassed a comfortable lead over the PUP's Richard Harrison and could claim more than 55% of the vote. Again those are very preliminary and unconfirmed figures.

Channel 7


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#499577 - 01/06/15 10:14 AM Re: Cayo North’s By-Election, The Timeline [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy


Click photos for more pictures!

The UDP wins the by-election making Omar Figueroa the new elected Area Representative for Cayo North. He captured 2669 votes cast over Richard Harrison's 1340. 51 were rejected.


PUP concedes Bi-election in Cayo North

UDP Omar Figueroa elected as the new area representative building momentum for the UDP for the upcoming March 2015 municipal elections. UDP Omar Figueroa received 2669 votes and PUP Richard Harrison received 1340 votes representing close to a 2-1 margin.


Corozal Daily


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#499585 - 01/06/15 11:50 AM Re: Cayo North’s By-Election [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Damn shame Omar left conservation for politics.
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#499628 - 01/07/15 09:54 AM Re: Cayo North’s By-Election [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Omar Figueroa Wins Historic Landslide

When we left you last night - it was with the news that UDP candidate for Cayo North Omar Figueroa was amassing a huge lead in the early counting. And by 8:45 this was confirmed when the first boxes were counted and they showed Figueroa leading by a constant ratio of two votes to one.

When it was all over, he had secured 2664 votes to 1348 for Richard Harrison, a margin of just about two to one. That is a blowout, a landslide victory for the UDP and a historic trouncing for the PUP. The 1316 vote difference between the two candidates represents a 1700 vote swing from the 2012 election when the PUP's Joseph Mahmud won the area by 398 votes. And more than that, research shows it is the largest margin of victory in that division since 1961.

For the UDP it is one more seat in the House of Representatives, increasing the ruling party's hold on the balance of power to a comfortable 18 - 13 majority. And for Omar Figuroa, he now enters the House as one of only three representatives on either side with more than 65% of the vote in his division. The other two are Dean Barrow and Michael Finnegan. That's pretty elite company, and here's how he and his supporters celebrated the huge win in San Ignacio last night:..

Hon. Anthony Boots Martinez, UDP "Ground Commander"
"Like what I said, this is not boledo, this is not lotto, this is what you put out there and this is what you get."

Jules Vasquez reporting
And once news of those numbers reached the UDP crowd of supporters outside the gate at the Center for Employment Training counting station, they erupted into wild and noisy chaos for their victorious candidate.

They kept right at it through the rain. And when their new Area Representative emerged, clasping his wife's hand, the noise got even louder.

Jules Vasquez
"Omar, you made it. How does it feel?"

Hon. Omar Figueroa, Area Representative (Elect) - Cayo North
"It feels great Jules, it feels great. I mean, I really never had any doubts about the outcome. It was just about the numbers."

Jules Vasquez
"How do you interpret this victory in terms of the UDP's entire standing, going into the March town boards?"

Hon. Dean Barrow, UDP Party Leader
"Clearly, this is a great momentum builder, but we cannot rest on our laurels, we cannot become complacent and we cannot appear to be boastful. One election at a time. We must savor the victory, but we must tomorrow begin to work towards winning again and as handsomely in the municipal elections."

Jules Vasquez
"Looking at the negative side, the PUP is saying that well we just put Harrison out there, but really want Michel Chebat to run and that will be a serious contest in the next general."

Hon. Omar Figueroa, Area Representative (Elect) - Cayo North
"Jules, there is no negative side to this. Listen to the people out there. They could send whoever they want. This is about the people of Cayo North. Send whoever they want."

And as one of only three area representatives to garner more than 65% of the vote, Figueroa should feel confident - and on this night marching triumphantly through the rain with an army at his back, why not? But he's also the only representative with a Ph. D - so should that entitle him to more than just the House of Representatives?

Jules Vasquez
"You are a very specialize and educated person. Will you become a minister? Is that foreseeable?"

Omar Figueroa, Cayo North
"Jules, I am the representative for the people of Cayo North. That's it. I am the area representative for the people of Cayo North."

Reporter
"Victory was more or less guaranteed for you, so there must have been discussions as to your future."

Omar Figueroa, Cayo North
"I have never had any discussions as to my future. My future is representing the people of Cayo North - that's it."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"With respect to our preliminary conversations, Doctor Figueroa wants to concentrate solely on the Cayo North constituency - wants to start working from now for the general elections in Cayo North."

Jules Vasquez
"And two-thirds of eighteen is twelve, so you can bring up another minister because...."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"You know I hadn't even consider that. I am thinking about winning the elections in March."

Jules Vasquez
"So, are we to expect that you will use the 18 to now bring up someone else from the back bench?"

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Expect nothing. Our concentration really, our focus is to dealing with some of the immediate issues as for example the sugar industry crisis and concentrating on the March municipal elections."

But, might they face a different outcome in the municipals - when 30 constituencies are not pouring all their energies into one as we saw on by-election day?:

Jules Vasquez
"Okay, the voter went into conservation mode. They realize that two more years with UDP and they made a practical choice."

Hon. Anthony "Boots" Martinez
"At the end of the day, then when two more years is up, they will stay 5 more years with UDP and they will make a practical choice."

Jules Vasquez
"When you are voting for a change of government is different from voting for a caretaker representative."

Hon. Anthony "Boots" Martinez
"No change of government at all sir. You remember there was a by-election with John Saldivar. So there is a difference sir."

Reporter
"The entire Cabinet, the entire UDP minister, parliamentarians were out here and that's was the reason you win big."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"How can that be the reason you win big? The reason you win big is because the voters in the constituency supported the candidate, voted for our candidate, voted for our party overwhelmingly."

Jules Vasquez
"Might it give you all what they call a fooling feeling that everybody is with you and maybe not everybody is with you?"

Hon. Anthony "Boots" Martinez
"Well I don't know is today's result is a fooling feeling, but I am telling you that it due gives us a lift in terms of going into the town board and city councils elections."

But on this night, that forethought was lost in the bellow of noisemakers and the drenching rain as the Prime Minister gave himself to the crush and chaos of victory once again even as he strode out gingerly clutching a cane, it's clearly a feeling he has come to savour, and one that even a bad back won't stop him from trying to recapture.

Correction, the UDP now have an 18 to 13 majority, not 18-14.

Opposition Leader Gracious In Defeat

Richard Harrison was not available for comment last night - and today, he wasn't around when his party leader held a press conference to talk about the loss. Fonseca faced the press alone, but he took the blame and right off the bat, he was gracious in defeat:..

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"First of all I want to on behalf of the People's United Party, to congratulate the United Democratic Party and in particular their candidate Dr. Omar Figueroa on his victory yesterday in the Cayo North by-election. It was a clear and decisive victory and we congratulate him and their party on that victory. As the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly I welcome Dr. Figueroa to the National Assembly."

UDP Leader Says PUP Didn’t Come Out

But the good spirited-ness can only go so far. The political bottom line is that the PUP resoundingly lost a seat they had, and they did so 7 weeks before Municipal elections.

UDP party Leader Dean Barrow seized on that when he told the media last night that the PUP supporters didn't come out for their own party:..

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"We brought out our people. Clearly it was a two horse race the other horse appeared not to be running. The PUP could not bring out its supporters for various reasons, including tremendous disenchantment with their leadership as expressed by the departed area representative."

Fonseca Tells PUP Supporters, Hold Strong, We’ll Be Back

And today Fonseca took the blame, sort of. He accepted that the fault rests with him as leader - but didn't accept that he was responsible for the alienation of PUP supporters. He reached out to the party supporters, though, saying…basically...keep your heads up:...

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"And to say to them, we will live to fight another day and together we must move forward. To our supporters, I know its disappointing and many of you are down today, but as I said, we have to keep moving forward and as the leader of the People's United Party, I take ownership and full responsibility for the loss and I have to look at myself what can I do better, what should I be doing more, how can we strengthen whatever units and arms of the party we need to strengthen to make the PUP more effective. What are we doing in terms of our message as a party? Is that message getting across to the people of Belize? Is it getting across to the people of Cayo North? I think yes, people are feeling down and disappointed. Even though people knew the odds were stack against us. But I think our people in the PUP understand the circumstances of this by-election. I am not for predictions or guarantee, but I can guaranteed this to the Belize people and to our supporters that the People's United Party will form the government of Belize whenever the next elections are called. Whether it's called, in 2015, 2016`or 2017, the People's United Party will form the government of Belize."

But before he gets to the general elections, Fonseca will have to get past the municipal election. They're on Wednesday March fourth, just 7 weeks away, and the leader who doesn't like to make predictions, made another - but this one was qualified:..

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"There are other battles to come; the municipal elections are in a few weeks, in March and we now move on to that battle for the municipal elections. We will have the adequate resources that we need to put up a very effective fight in all 9 municipalities and I expect the PUP to do very well in those municipal elections. I am not one to make predictions, but I expect us to do very well in many of these municipalities."

But back to Cayo North, what will the PUP do now? General elections are fast approaching - and the party has to decide which way it will go after a huge and historic blowout. Today Fonseca would only say that Harrison is no longer standard bearer:..

Reporter
"Is a part of your assessment deciding whether or not you will continue with Mr. Harrison whenever the general elections is called?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"Well, Mr. Harrison was our candidate for this by-election and his candidacy has come to an end. So, yes, we have to look at Cayo North with fresh eyes. We will do an analysis as I said and coming out of that analysis as a party, we will determine how we will proceed with Cayo North, but Mr. Harrison is not the standard bearer in Cayo North. He was our candidate. He ran and he lost that election, the party will have to determine who will be our standard bearer moving forward."

PUP Leader Says Party Will Find More Funds

And staying on the subject of money, the PUP seems that it needs its own bond after it was grossly outspent in yesterday's by-election. Now, say what you will about money demeaning democracy, but since about the 90's, politics has become a money game: and if you don't have it, you can't play, at least not very well. The PUP leader conceded that the PUP does need a greater fundraising drive:..

Jules Vasquez
"Are you all financing wise in a worse situation that you were going into this election with a 1700 vote swing?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"No Jules, I don't think so. I think we certainly as I said earlier, it's a critical factor, a critical issue which I take responsibility for and that means we have to get out there and work harder on that issue. I have to work harder on that issue which I will admit and confess that it's not something I am comfortable with and like to do, but obviously it's something I have to address in a more aggressive manner."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, I was around in 1996 when the PUP was in opposition. I mention it because its two years before the general then and the PUP was flushed with money. The PUP had money. The PUP was far outspending the UDP. I'm saying how much is it a symptom of your leadership that the PUP appears to be continually unable to attract funds."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"The issue of money yes, you are right. I have taken the approach that I want to be very if you like selective. I want to be very careful in how we approach raising of campaign finance. So, we have to look at all of that. As I said, what's critically important is that we have to get more people involved in that process, so that yes, we can have more funds. I don't know that we'll ever return to the days of 96 or 97 or 98 that you talked about and I don't know that I want to, but I am absolutely confident that we will be able to have the resources available as a party that we need to fight all future elections."

And so while the PUP plans to go harder on fundraising, it has to do so now because municipals are only 7 weeks away. While yesterday's outcome would seem to bode poorly for the PUP - Fonseca stressed that the Cayo North by election had its own internal logic and it is not indicative of a pro government trend:...

Jules Vasquez
"And the pendulum swings and invariable against the incumbent, history has shown. This is the first time that the pendulum seems to be swinging the wrong way and the blame for this then has to fall squarely on your shoulder as leader of PUP. How is it that in the 8 year of 10, the UDP is able to secure such a huge victory in a seat that you had - a seat that you controlled?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"As I said, I take ownership and responsibility, but we all know there are specific circumstances which surrounded this by-election and as I said we have to look at all the factors. I take responsibility, but I am absolutely confident, you talk about the pendulum - I am absolutely convinced that the national pendulum - Cayo North is in my view an isolated factor of event. The national pendulum is swinging strongly in favor of the People' United Party and I think any general election that is call will show that very clearly and I think we will begin to see that in the municipal elections."

Jules Vasquez
"But right in the shadow of Cayo North East, the resentment against the PUP by its own supporters seems to be greater that the resentment against the government that's incumbent which usually it's the government everyone is out to get. But in this case it seems that it's the PUP supporters who are upset with their own party because they didn't come out."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"I think that's a fair comment and again, that's got to be a part of the analysis. I think it's absolutely fair to make that point that PUP supporters did not turn out to vote on election day. Some attribute that to people being upset with Mr. Mahmud's resignation. We can't forget that we ask people to support a PUP candidate in 2012. We went out, campaign for that candidate, ask the people of Cayo North to place their trust and confidence in that candidate and then two years later that candidate turn his back on those very same people. And people were angry and upset and people told me so myself when I was out in Cayo North. So we can't ignore that. That's the reality. So that's one factor that some people just were angry at what Mr. Mahmud did and took it out on the party and said we're not."

Jules Vasquez
"Shouldn't you have reached out to him to try to save that seat? This is something that has never happen before. This is the first time. There has to be something going on there sir."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"We've had this discussion before Jules and I said again, I am absolutely comfortable with everything that took place with Mr. Mahmud and I don't regret any decision I took as it relates to Joseph Mahmud."

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