I know that everybody wants to read about elections and politics this week. So I figure I better write about politics twenty five years ago. At least this column will get some audience this way.
I do not remember how the very first village council chairmen were put into office. I have a good feeling that the men all went to a meeting with some government official, and by a raise of hands, they got elected. That is how Fido and Fedo and Abel Guerrero got elected. No campaign; no dirty tricks; no expenses and banners etc.
But I do remember one of the early national elections. It was between the P.U.P. and the N.I.P. - the People's United Party and the National Independent Party. I remember George Price and Phillip Goldson being the leaders of the two parties. Louis Sylvestre was the candidate for the P.U.P., and I forgot the name of the N.I.P. candidate, but it does not matter because he only got about 10 votes and Sylvestre about 150 votes. Neither of the candidates held a public meeting. Sylvestre campaigned by going to people's houses, hugging the ladies and taking a drink there. The other guy did not even put foot on San Pedro. Only his posters were shown around.
On election day the men went to their usual fishing chores and when they returned at ten or eleven in the morning, they and their wives went to the polling station, the elementary school by the police station. At six in the afternoon when the polling station was closed, Mr. Enrique Stains took the box for the P.U.P.,and Mr. Roman Aguilar took the box for the N.I.P. to a boat at the main pier. The boxes, under padlock, were put under a seat and the two gentlemen sat on the seat. They never moved an inch, even to take a pee. Once in Belize City, they took the boxes to Ladyville which is where the boxes for Belize Rural South were counted. Nobody stayed up to listen to results. There were a few radios on the island. The next day, Enrique Stains (deceased) returned happily to San Pedro to announce the P.U.P. victory. Sylvestre did not come for a victory rally. It was some time later that he came for some business that he had and the men celebrated the usual way. And that was it - General Elections in the late 1950's.
I also recall my first election into public service. It was in 1971 and it was held at the Teatro Arenas, which was Fido's cinema where Tarzan's Discotheque is presently operating. The minister of Local Government, Mr. McKoy, came personally to conduct the election. There were about sixty to seventy five men seated in the cinema (not a single woman) and after a few words, W McKoy opened the floor for nomination. I had just graduated and was there merely to interfere. My name along with six others were mentioned and before I knew it, the men all raised their hands and just like that we were members of the village Council. Nobody asked if we were P.U.P. or N.I.P. Nobody asked if the men or voters were registered or not. Nobody asked if they were from San Pedro or elsewhere, Nobody asked for identification cards nor proof of age, nor citizenship. Mr. McKoy accepted they were San Pedranos and wanted us to be the village leaders. It was Mr. Enrique Stains, Gustavo Arceo, Ovidio Guerrero, Gilberto Gomez, two others and myself It was then that I became P.U.P. because my good friend Mr. Enrique Stains was a P.U.P. Therefore I liked and respected the leadership of George Price and the policies of his party. And that was the end of village council elections in the early 1970's.
In both local and national elections there was no hard campaigning, no banners nor posters, no mud slinging, no promises, no give away, no rallies with music, no victory celebrations. Elections twenty five years ago were simple, honest, economical, and the rule of the game was SERVICE. Service minded men entered politics. Not always true today.