|Andre Perez, one of the PUP councillor candidates, addressed the members of the Ambergris Chamber of Commerce at their weekly Thursday luncheon.
With elections a mere six weeks away, electoral candidates are in full campaign force. This past Thursday, members from the People’s United Party (PUP) had a presentation at the Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce weekly luncheon. During the meeting, the PUP candidates not only expressed what their goals are should they win the upcoming elections, but were also open to answering questions from the public. Present for the meeting were, Alberto “Beto” Nuñez, candidate for Mayor, Alex Nuñez, Javier Williams, and Andre Perez, who are all running for councilors. Also at the meeting were the San Pedro Chairman for the PUP, Eiden Salazar, and PUP Campaign Chairman, Milo Paz Jr.
Eiden Salazar began by explaining that their candidates were all endorsed during the PUP convention in October. He said the candidates are meeting with the different neighborhoods around the community and listening to their concerns. Eiden commented that he was proudly supporting Beto Nuñez because of his morale and spirit, noting that Beto was Mayor during four major hurricanes (1997-2003), Mitch, Keith, Chantal, and Iris. Don Beto expressed his sincere desire to create a better standard of living for this community.
Milo Paz said the PUP is approaching the 2006 election differently. He stated that 65% of the 4,100 voters on Ambergris Caye come from the different districts in Belize. The PUP candidates for this year are very essential and come from various backgrounds and districts, including Orange Walk, Belize City, Cayo, San Pedro and even El Salvador. This group will be a vital instrument in improving the Town Council’s leadership, as well as the management of its economics. Milo went on to explain that there are four main points of interest for the Town Council; the beaches, playgrounds, streets, and the garbage. He further reiterated that these four points should, and are to remain the focus of the new PUP group.
In response to a question from the floor that asked, “it doesn’t matter which party is in power, why does the Town Council always complain about the lack of money?” Milo explained that not all of the “9 million dollars” spent to run the government in San Pedro is received in cash, but in services including the PolyClinic and the San Pedro Police Station.
In response to a statement from Javier Williams, who stated he is a member of the BTB, the PUP delegation made a point to mention that they are open to ideas on how to increase revenue base. “We know that our subvention and property taxes are not a fair share and that we will continue to lobby the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) to get more of a fair share of revenues brought in by tourism in San Pedro.
Chamber meeting attendees then addressed several points of concern including the marina, barges, the Statutory Instrument, traffic, the Boca Del Rio Bridge, Avian Flu preparedness and San Pedro as a Seventh District. The PUP representatives said that many of the questions will be answered once their manifesto is released February 2nd.
Regarding traffic and the Marina, the PUP delegation support the use of the behind the airport for large vehicles and said they will work with Government to get the new Marina completed. They said they would keep bridge traffic the same as the ferry traffic is currently, with nothing bigger than a golf cart crossing the bridge.
Milo Paz answered a question regarding the new Statutory Instrument, stating, “yes and that he, along with the Chamber’s help, was largely responsible for what is written in the new S.I.”
The PUP members were asked if they would enforce marine reserves and try to increase the amount of reserves all along the coast of San Pedro. They answered by acknowledging the importance of tourism to San Pedro’s economic future, However, they added that “local fishermen’s livelihoods are at stake here. We must be very careful to not upset the balance of tourism and local livelihoods.”
In regards to questions asked about San Pedro becoming the 7th District, the members acknowledged the need for more study and research to determine the pros and cons of becoming the 7th District.
Even the threat of the Asian Bird Flu was among the questions that were thrown at the PUP candidates. Eiden and Andre both agreed to follow up on this and find out all they could and bring it to the attention of those who could see to getting on the waiting list for vaccines for Belizeans.
The PUP announced that Prime Minister Said Musa will campaign in San Pedro today. On February 1st the Cabinet will be campaigning on San Pedro with a Public Meeting that night. On February 2nd, the PUP will be launching its new manifesto. February 7th is Nomination Day and any changes or endorsements will be final on that day. Election Day is March 1st and anyone who is capable of voting should definitely use their right to vote. He then thanked the Chamber and congratulated the Chamber on their work.
Candidates of the United Democratic Party (UDP) will be present at a future Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce meeting to address their manifesto and to answer questions.