25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
No Politics, No Campaigns
We can safely say that 25 years ago there was no politics in San Pedro. As a village there were no two party elections so there was no campaigning to become a village councilor. In fact people had to be coerced and persuaded to volunteer their services as chairman of the village council, and when you got in there, if there was no one who wanted to assume that responsibility, you would remain there for a long time.
There were two political parties in Belize - the PUP or Peopleís United Party, and the NIP or National Independent Party. None of them contested village council elections. A meeting was called and at that meeting the volunteers were chosen to serve for three years in the council.
Now every five years there was a national election. In the 1960ís and 70ís, Louis Sylvestre, area representative, used to come and hold one meeting at Central Park. There were no bands, music, liquor, flags, and balloons - nothing. He simply informed that there was going to be an election and that an officer from Belize City would be here with two boxes.
Mr. Enrique Staines used to mind the PUP box, and Mr. Roman Aguilar used to mind the NIP box. The results used to be like 50 votes for the PUP and 8 votes for the NIP. The persons in charge used to sit on the boxes, which were taken by skiff to Belize City and counted. We knew of the results the next day throught the BBC or the British Broadcasting Corporation, the one and ONLY RADIO in the country.
The first election campaign in San Pedro was in 1985, a few months after San Pedro got its township on November 27, 1984. The UDP put up a slate of 7 candidates. The 7 members, who were automatically sworn as town board members on Township Day, did not want to be in politics because it tended to be dirty and it divided the people. So they ran an independent party called SPUM or the San Pedro United Movement.
History was made in Belize when an independent party won an election. But the UDP treated SPUM very bad. Three years later both UDP and PUP wanted SPUM to run for them because these guys were great servants of the people, popular, energetic, and honest. But now SPUM ran as SPUM/PUP, and they won another election. Three years later, it was all PUP versus UDP, and the rest is history.
Elections today have a different twist. Voters are not only Sanpedranos. They come from all over the country and even from abroad. They have no idea of the history of politics in San Pedro and are influenced by their own experiences, not San Pedroís. They are large in numbers and they actually determine the outcome of an election. So there were no municipal elections 25 years ago, but in the 21 years of it, there have been 5 PUP town boards and 2 UDPís.