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#502064 - 03/11/15 10:47 AM Recording Captures Hon. Briceno Blazing His Party
Marty Offline
Last week, we reported on the explosive recording that's out there. Well tonight, it's in here, we have it. It's over an hour long and it is loaded. We'll present the juicy bits tonight, but first some background.

In it, former PUP leader John Briceno is heard talking to a disgruntled PUP supporter in Orange Walk East. Briceno went to try and get his support after the divisive Orange walk East convention in January. Briceno's candidate, Josue Carballo, won the convention and David Burgos lost. The man Briceno is talking to is an embittered Burgos supporter and Briceno is trying to bring him around. It is believed that this person secretly made the recording of a face to face conversation.

All this background to say that what you are about hear is the product of a PUP on PUP war - but tonight it is a national nuclear meltdown for the PUP.

But more than a meltdown, it's like a nuclear attack and the one who pushed the "detonate" button is Briceno. To make it very clear, it's not idle talk, and we cannot treat it as such. This is the former leader of the PUP for three and a half years and the former Deputy Prime Minister under Said Musa for nine and a half years.

The Opposition is still recovering from the bruising defeat in last week Wednesday's municipal elections, and as we've shown you, the pendulum of political fortunes is swinging in the wrong direction. The incumbent United Democratic Party is gaining ground on the Opposition, overturning conventional election trends after 8 years in Government.

At last week's press conference following the election results, we asked Opposition Leader if this outcome is a reflection of his leadership influence. That's certainly where Briceno's mind was weeks before the March 4 elections, and he discussed it freely with this person who made the secret recording. He indicted his political boss' efforts so far to convince the voters that the Opposition is a viable option in the polls:

Hon. John Briceno
"In the middle of November, the elections, after all of that, I went to visit Francis and told him, Party Leader, I want to help." All independent, I went by myself. He said, "Yes you could help, blah blah blah." Nothing. He has meetings in Orange Walk, he has meetings in Corozal, here and there, but he never...not one time Francis invites me and say, "You want to join me?" Or, "I'm passing through Orange Walk, let's sit down and chat a little." Never!...What he wanted to do is to make me irrelevant." "People want me to move out. That's fine, but I don't think I'll move out of the party. There, I have friends in the party that want me to help them. So I've been helping him, and I have been working slightly..." "Francis has not been working to get the support of the people… So, right now, the party is in disarray.."

Briceno’s Exit As Party Leader Was Personal

So, how would the Opposition have performed under the Briceno Leadership? Well, viewers will remember that in October 2011, Briceno stepped down as leader of Opposition, months before the General Elections of 2012, but he made it clear to his PUP colleague, who recorded their conversation, that his exit almost 3 years ago is still a sore point for him and the rest of his party.

Here's what he had to say about his exit, and the financial burdens he still bears from his time as leader of the party:

Hon. John Briceno
"I had already spent 3 million dollars out of pocket. Something that Said nor Ralph nor George Price, nobody has done for this party. I spent 3 million dollars that I recorded. I only di tell you what these people do to you. On top of that I made a loan of 1 million dollars for the Town Council elections for 2009. Right now I have to donate $14,800 to the PUP every month for a loan they made. I am paying that, not Francis, Francis no give a [#%!], and I can tell you everything that I spent, but at the end of the day I can only say look here I can continue to lead the party but I cannot continue to spend more money because, I will bankrupt my company and my family. And like you well know your family comes first. So as not to mess up the party anymore I made the sacrifice to say you know what if you want it take it..." "Three weeks after I step down there was no National Convention…the same PUP that is the cancer of the PUP you should be talking about. That's the cancer that we have. Julian:- I'm not saying you are the cancer."

JB:- "No, no,no,no no,no,no. that's the cancer that we have. That cancer that came and stole millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars from the people. I'm not talking about a little bit of money...millions, tens of millions of dollars they stole, that had this been another country they would have been in jail right now...so I step down and I was sincere and they said that Francis was going to take it."

"If it had been another leader we would have won because we've all…I wasn't going to get into all of this but I think it is important so you can understand what has happened in the party Julian. From the time he came in what di Francis do? He kicked out Mark and Cordel. Maybe long term it's a good thing but short term it was a stupid mistake. I could have done that to Mark and Cordel but I know how it would hurt the party because they had a section of people, and like you said Julian, you control...a sponsor has his people who think that are oh Mark...now they are seeing Mark for who he is nuh. And what did these boys do? They realized that if they got into government, they said Francis will put them in back bench so why would they fight? Francis is king and only wants us in the back bench. They stepped down so we lost two seats, but besides that we still could have won but they are not thinking strategically...looking where they should."

As you heard, he had a lot to say about the outcome of the 2012 elections in which it is widely speculated that if the party did not kick out former standard bearers Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde, the PUP might be in government right now. Given last week Wednesday's performance of the recently returned Standard bearer for Lake Independence, Cordel Hyde, it makes for an interesting symmetry for Briceno's comments to emerge at this time.

Hon. Briceno Remind Why The G7 Rebelled

That's not all Briceno had to say about Fonseca's leader of the PUP, not at all. While discussing politics with his PUP confidant who recorded the private conversation, Briceno took him on a history lesson. He started discussing parts of the Opposition's recent past that still haunts the party, discussing key elements of the financial mismanagement of the Musa administration. Some parts of the conversation we are unable to air for legal reasons, but the allegations made are documented on public record. In some instances, Briceno goes as far as calling out some of his political colleagues.

What we can touch is a part of the recorded discussion he had weeks ago about a key moment of mismanagement of public funds which emerged in 2005. Viewers may remember when the story broke that the then Musa Administration gambled millions of dollars on a currency swap in the year 2000 in a deal which was overseen by Former Minister of Finance Ralph Fonseca. In that ill-advised move, some US $40 million dollars of public monies was placed in a bet that over the 5 year period which followed the Japanese Yen would weaken against the US Dollar. It happened the opposite way around and Belize ended up losing 6 million dollars just like that.

Briceno discussed this several weeks ago, reminding of the things which the public isn't likely to forget so easily about the last time his party was in Government:

Hon. John Briceno
"Now they had 90 days to find a buyer, and they can't find a buyer, they can't find a buyer and they brought this other American - Prosser, Jeffrey Prosser that he came and paid them. He did not pay them one cent. He gave them an IOU. Ashcroft asked them "did he pay you?" and Said said yes he paid when he knew fully well that he did not pay. He gave them and IOU. Jeffrey Prosser came in and all the profits that BTL was making he was taking it away, he was taking it. I think like two years later they realized that Jeffrey Prosser does not have any money and was going into bankruptcy in other parts of the United States and the Caribbean. What happened is that we signed for 10…15 million US dollars at the Miami International Bank…IBM International Bank of…15 million US and we are paying interest, we are paying interest…they already rolled it over one year because it was a one year loan so in the second year what did we have to do? We had to take away but we didn't have the money to pay for it. So what did we do? Whom we went to? Michael said "you want me to buy it?" "I am not paying you the 110 dollars that you paid me; I will pay you 80 dollars" so Michael won when he lost it and won when he bought it. Why? Because Said and Ralph and Glen Godfrey were… then on top of that now when Said tells Michael "well if you buy that, I want you to buy the tower…the Intelco infrastructure because Intelco owes Social Security 20 million dollars…22 million dollars. Michael says "OK I'm going to take it but I want you to guarantee me a 15 percent return on my investment and if I don't make that 15 percent return on my investment I'm going to deduct it from my taxes until I get back my 20 million I'm paying for you."... And that's why we are like this…and them the IMF was on us, telling us that we are spending money that we don't have. So we couldn't tell you we didn't talk to Said. We talked to him and we talked to him until finally I tell you we come as a group and told him if you don't fire him we will step down…and that's how they removed him from ministry of finance. And when Dave saw this he said this is my chance…he pledged allegiance with them. I never asked Dave to support us. The only one I asked was Servulo because he was a member of cabinet. And then Dave took that and started hammering and hammering and hammering me."

"In 2006 when when Dave realized that he…when Marco Tulio came to see me I told him that he would be a good person and we supported him for the Town Council he lost and he said "I will continue I think I will challenge Dave" I said I think we should. Maybe he felt that he would lose and decided not to run."

For clarity we air an interview we managed to get with the then Prime Minister Said Musa on that currency swap loss. He was very abrupt in that press encounter:

Rt. Said Musa
"Net loss of about 3 million."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, but do you hold yourself accountable for that?"

Rt. Said Musa
"No. That's why we have a central bank. They were the ones that recommended it. You want me to accept responsibility for all the decisions at the central bank?"

Jules Vasquez
"You are the person elected to manage the people's money."

Rt. Said Musa
"First of all, it occurred before I became the minister of finance, but the important thing is that it was a decision of the board of the central bank."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you accept now, that it was a reckless and ill-advised decision?"

Rt. Said Musa
"I would have to examine what were the circumstances at the time, the facts available to the board, to make such a statement."

Jules Vasquez
"However, now the people would have to pay for the loss."

Hon. Briceno Comments, Doesn’t Deny His Explosive Claims

Back to Briceno and that explosive recording, we contacted him earlier today for comment, and this evening, he released a statement.

Notably, Briceno does not shy from what he said and offers no denial of any of his claims. He says quote,

"Some weeks ago I was engaged in a private conversation with two trusted members of our Party who are members of the Orange Walk East Executive. It has now come to my attention that the contents of our private conversation were recorded and circulated publicly.

The discussion with these individuals was a private one and by recording and leaking it to the public is a gross violation of my privacy.

I will say no more on this issue. I remain committed to the principles and philosophy of the People's United Party." End Quote

UDP Government Demands That Opposition Addresses Briceno’s Claims

And so now, coming on the heels of a massive defeat for the PUP in the municipal elections, what does this mean for the opposition? The party is already at the lowest in the Fonseca era, and so the question is whether this will drag the party down further? The days to come will tell that because as we said there's a lot of stuff on the recording, more than an hour! And the UDP sent out a release today making its position clear...

Their statement says, quote, "Officials of the UDP have listened to the contents of this audio recording where Mr. Briceno is heard to confirm multiple mass corruption schemes during the Musa/Fonseca era...Mr. Briceno, it must be noted, was not just a spectator in the Musa/Fonseca period. He was the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize and the Deputy Party Leader of the PUP. Mr. Briceno knows exactly what he is talking about. The UDP believes that the Briceno tape is the most compelling evidence ever of the sweeping corruption and decay that permeated, at the highest levels, the PUP Administration and Party. Most of the players in the Musa/Fonseca Administration continue to hold senior positions in the PUP today, a clear indication that the Party has not changed.

The PUP leadership cannot ignore this dramatic development: never before has such a high-ranking politician indicted his own Party in his own voice." End Quote.

Channel 7

#502103 - 03/12/15 10:40 AM Re: Recording Captures Hon. Briceno Blazing His Party [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

PUP Say Briceno Recording Is “Internal Party Matter”

Last night after the John Briceno recording hit the news, it was like a bomb had been dropped on the PUP. There it was, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Party Leader secretly recorded referring to his former colleagues as robbers who stole – in his words, quote, “millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars from the people,” end quote, and stating that, quote, “had this been another country they would have been in jail right now.” End quote.

That is very serious stuff – and the gravity of it is hard to overstate: Briceno, after all, was the Deputy Prime Minister for almost ten years – when this alleged thievery was happening. And more than that, he was secretly recorded saying these things in confidence to a trusted party supporter – which would suggest that his statements are a true reflection of what he believes are facts.

And now, today, in the aftermath of that nuclear event, when the PUP top brass went into a previously scheduled meeting – the Briceno recording was sure to take center stage. The press waited outside for four hours, and when the PUP emerged they did their best to try and get out from under the nuclear cloud of the Briceno bomb. Did they succeed? Jules Vasquez was there:…

Jules Vasquez reporting….

After a four hour meeting – the PUP national executive, parliamentary caucus and municipal candidates filed down the stairs from Independence Hall. First out was Party leader Francis Fonseca flanked by former leaders Said Musa and John Briceno on his shoulder. Thereafter, about two dozen party personalities crammed shoulder to shoulder in the hot vestibule.

It was physically uncomfortable and awkward with leader Fonseca talking about a routine review of the town board election – and then he yielded to Briceno who lurched into possibly the most uncomfortable public explanation of his career:

Hon. John Briceno, Area Representative - Orange Walk Central

"A few weeks ago, a tape was made of a private conversation that I had with somebody - that I thought, that I trusted. Somebody that I knew for decades and I never thought that, that person would have betrayed my trust by recording what I was speaking to him privately. Yesterday I took out a short statement, making it clear that I will not discuss what I have said privately with those individuals. We need to look forward."

Mike Rudon - Channel 5 News

"Even with Hon. Briceno saying that he will not speak on the issue of the recording, these things are out there now in the public forum. How does the party at this conjecture react to what was said?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition

"Well we have discussed it, we had a discussion about it. It's an internal party matter. We have discussed it, we are dealing with it in that way - as I said from the very beginning. We will deal with it in a responsible way, in brotherly way and we believe we are on the way to resolve what ever differences exist among us."

Jules Vasquez

"Sir but how do you move forward in unity when the former leader of the party and the former deputy prime minister has said that basically - the government was being ran by rapacious kleptocrats?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca

"Bottom line is, that is an internal matter for the PUP."

Jules Vasquez

“Actually, a public matter."

Hon. Francis Fonseca

"It's not a public matter. It is an internal matter. We are dealing with that. And you have heard from the leaders of the party today that we are dealing with it and we're committed to working together moving forward. We will address that issue in our party - and we're confident that we will be able to move forward, as united as possible."

Jules Vasquez

"Will Mr. Briceno be sanctioned?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca

"No, we discussed that today - as I said it's an internal matter, it's an internal matter."

Jules Vasquez

"But it's a people's party, it's a public party."

Hon. Francis Fonseca

"It's a public party but they're are many many other issues. We are committed in working together, that is the message from today's meeting."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Area Representative - Fort George

"I find it amazing that the media has been preoccupied with this tape of John Briceno - when in fact there is a tape making serious allegations of murder against the deputy prime minister of this country. And not a question has been asked by the media to the prime minister about that."

Jules Vasquez

"That's been so ventilated sir. Every second of that tape has been played."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa

"None at all."

Jules Vasquez

"Just because we done get an answer you don't like doesn't mean it's not there."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa

"I never heard the answer. What has Dean Barrow said about it?"

Jules Vasquez

"He has said the same thing, he said it's fraudulent, what can we do beyond that? We've aired every second of that tape sir. We have plumbed it at great depths. How do you feel about what Mr. Briceno said about you?"

Rt. Hon. Said Musa

"Well I feel like all he said was false and I know it was false. Now, what was his state of mind was? I don't know. But I can tell you that we discussed it fully today and I'm satisfied that we have a way to move forward now."

And with that graceless gush of animus, it was over – 15 visibly uncomfortable minutes and a press briefer, which could not have ended fast enough for the PUP party leader, while his predecessor was still pressing the flesh in the street and the party insiders emerged looking somewhat punch drunk, bracing for who knows what’s next.

Channel 7

#502201 - 03/14/15 11:01 AM Re: Recording Captures Hon. Briceno Blazing His Party [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Briceno Recording Dominates Budget Day In House: Barrow Calls Out Musa

Today was Budget Day at the House of Representatives in Belmopan. It's the biggest day for parliamentary business on the House Calendar - because the revenue and appropriations bill is tabled - that's what makes government run.

But, it's not the headline anywhere tonight and that's because the secret recording of former PUP Deputy Prime Minister John Briceno was the most important thing discussed at today's house meeting. As we told you last night, it just had to come up because it's too ripe a political opportunity for the UDP to miss out on.

But, the Prime Minister who prepared remarks on it - said it wasn't about politics - but about the duty of the Leader of the Opposition. From there, things took on a life of their own. Here's how it all went down:

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"A confession, as to the massive corruption and unmatched feavery of the Musa/Fonseca administration - 1998-2007. The current leader of the opposition has told the media and the country to back-off. The matter, he says, is private PUP business."

"Mr. Speaker, how in God's name can the robbery of millions and millions from the public purse be private PUP business? Those tens of millions were for the people. During their ten years, they in deed acted as though the nation's business and the nation's money were exclusively the PUP's business and the PUP's money. And as though, carving up and parceling out the country's wealth was indeed an internal party matter. I therefore called on the leader of the opposition, to reverse course to stop the stonewalling, to halt the cover-up. He must addressed immediately, fully and publicly, the comprehensive wholesale indictment of the PUP by its immediate past."

"Belizeans demand answers to the specifics of all the charges. The disclosures, after all are made by one who was there at the top occupying a vantage point, from which he saw, couldn't missed and has now documented every last piece of the PUP down heap, its mountain of stench and corruption. The member for Orange Walk Central, has not retracted one a iota and he remains, a key executive of the party, number three in the hierarchy and cannot be sanctioned because he is telling the truth. So, Mr. current opposition leader, do not further dirty your office. Do not further sully your person. Either discharged those obligations and do your duty or stand condemned forever, before the bar of Belizean history."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Fort George
"The Prime Minister of all people should know, that the old tired allegations of wrong doing on my part are false, phony and the reason why he should know is because he was the one who instigated the malicious prosecution against me and Mr. Ralph Fonseca and what became of those charges, those phony charges of theft and all that, they were dismissed even before trial, without a trail. This is old hot stuff, going back almost 10 years, because he is trying to divert attention from the ongoing and pervasive corruption, that is taking place in his administration."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"This man stands up now Mr. Speaker and actually tries to put on a garb of righteousness. First of all, the charges that were brought against him were particular and specific, having to do with the 20 million dollars in monies, sent by Venezuela to be spent on housing for the Belizean people, which he diverted. He say he didn't steal it - that's a technical argument and he is entitled to the benefit to the judgement of the court. Let's grant you, if you want to be charitable, that you been cleared certainly with the charge of theft with respect to the Venezuela 20 million - no, that's not what the member for Orange Walk Central is talking about on the tape. He is specific about all that you did, in terms of DFC money. In term of Galleria Maya, In terms of the Yen swap, in terms of SSB and Mr. Speaker, you see, I don't know why you didn't sit down and keep your mouth shut. When I spoke, I never called your name, except to talk about the Musa/Fonseca administration. I never levied any accusations about you. I talked about what the member for Orange Walk Central has said on the tape. But because you got up now and you you've, as I said, you've got the faciness and to intervene. Let me say what is in that tape, that the news media can't play because of libel. On that tape, you are accused of personally, having stolen tens of millions and it said that you should be in jail and that if you were in any other country, you would be in jail. It's not me that said so, it is the man sitting beside you, the confessor on the tape. He was there. He observed it and for telling you, he is the one who says that in terms of all that you did, if it were any other country, you would be in jail."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Fort George
"Mr. Speaker, this is a personal attack on me by the Prime Minister, knowing fully well."

Speaker of the House
"You know better than that. Senior member, respect the House. You made the representation, you responded and that's it. Have your seat."

Jules Vasquez
"What's your response to that?"

Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Fort George
"I am saying, tell him to say it outside here of the House."

Jules Vasquez
"Mr. Briceno, says it outside of the House."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Fort George
"Mr. Briceno, says it in a conversation with someone else who taped him. All I am saying is that is published outside, I would sue, because it is false and malicious."

Jules Vasquez
"Well then shouldn't you sue Mr. Briceno?"

Rt. Hon. Said Musa, Fort George
"Well, I won't answer that now. I want the Prime Minister to say it."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you stand by what you said in that recording which was made?"

Hon. John Briceno, OW Central
"Gentlemen, as I said from earlier on, that was a private discussion. It's a discussion that was never meant for public consumption and in that discussion, in many instances, that if when you are talking that you would have framed what you are saying differently, from what came across in that tape, but I am not going to discussed it. I think what is important is to talk about this budget. When you look at the numbers....."

Jules Vasquez
"You are changing subject on me. You have two weeks to debate that. You don't withdraw from what you've said."

Hon. John Briceno, OW Central
"Look at this. They projected a 37 million dollars primary surplus. You know the primary surplus si what you use to pay you light bill and your water bill and you gas and salaries and everything. They had a 50 million deficit. That is telling you that the government didn't have money to pay its own light bill. It had to borrow money to pay its own light bill."

Jules Vasquez
"And that will be fully ventilated in two weeks sir. What is important right now is that you have accused....."

Hon. John Briceno, OW Central
"As I have said, I have a private discussion that was never meant to be made public."

Jules Vasquez
"What you said untrue?"

Hon. John Briceno, OW Central
"I am telling you I had a private discussion."

Jules Vasquez
"Mr. Espat has said it's untrue. They said you lie."

Hon. John Briceno, OW Central
"I am certain, that you have had discussion with your wife or with a friend, that you never wanted to made public, so I am finished with the tape. As I said, I am a PUP, I believe in the policies and the principles of the People's United Party and I want to do everything that I can to ensure that whenever, the next elections are called, whenever that times comes, that we have a government of the PUP. It is only when we have a PUP government that we have true development in this country."

Jules Vasquez
"Not according to what you've said. You've said, that was mass theft and criminality, the last time they had a PP government - that's what you've said - tens of millions."

Hon. John Briceno, OW Central
"Looked at what happened, do we increased, when you look at the amount of the economy - more than doubled during our time. They are growing this economy on the backs of our children and that is a fact and that is what is there for everybody to see."

Jules Vasquez
"Under the UDP, there was a debt default. They defaulted on their commercial debt. We are asking you about the tens of millions that you referred to."

Hon. John Briceno, OW Central
"We did not default. We sat with the bond holders and we decided to that we were going to re-negotiate with them."

Channel 7


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