REPORT #614 February 26, 2003

By Ray Auxillou/ Belize Development Trust

Well things on our part are now winding down. The last ads in the media are paid and in place, the election is next week, but we are packing bags and closing up shop.

I'm very pleased with our participation in this National Election. Originally we planned to support the other main party the UDP, but when they failed to include political reform as part of their manifesto, we had to search for someone else, who would include political reform as their agenda.

That someone else were two characters up in the Corozal District, by the name of Francis Gegg, a businessman, who had been victimized and robbed by both the two main parties, the UDP and the PUP in the last ten years. But that is another political victimization story, for another time and place. His cohort was Hipolito Bautista. I didn't know this man, but on meeting him, it turned out we did have some history together. When he was a young man in high school, I put on the RAYMONDO the MAGICIAN magic show at the Baron Bliss theatre in the port of Belize City. The opening illusion of my show was a tiny sword box. I asked a curious boy, who was poking his nose into things he shouldn't be, if he would help me. With trepidation he did and I convinced him to let me stuff him in my SWORD BOX illusion. Much like a baby in the womb. This illusion was my opening event! The box was too small for a human being to be inside for one thing and then I put 21 swords through all sides of the box to show the impossibility of anyone being inside. A spear went through the center from top to bottom. To open the show, the sword box was wheeled out on the stage center, the box was whirled around to show there was no trickery, then the swords and spear were pulled out of the box one by one, for effect. Voila! The box was opened and out stepped Buatista. I didn't know his name then, but it takes a gutsy young teenager to even get into that box in the first place.

Having looked over the field of politicians and parties and mindful of our charter to promote political self education and political reform, it was decided to back these two remote fellows running as Independents. A media campaign was started, all by computer. We managed to get some coverage and then we offered some guidance and moral persuasion and support. It is not our policy to do things for people. People must help themselves! Francis was told to concentrate on filling the 29 divisions with candidates and forget campaigning. We did agree to put a little bit of money and supplied the financing for nomination registrations to the tune of $1200. Which enabled some farmers and teachers and youth leaders to contest the election as a third group of loose Independents. The final tally by nomination day, was an actual eleven candidates running on a political reform ticket. I still have not met all the candidates due to time limitations and the difficulties of travel in remote Belize. Plus I'm an old man and it is not as easy as it used to be for me.

Following nomination day, the job was to garner publicity and meld the eleven candidates into an organization, speaking with one voice and reaching out for credibility to form a new government. There were quite a few late night bull sessions on different aspects of political reform. I think we helped solidify their views, create a cohesiveness of one message and get them to unite to help each other.

From our viewpoint at the Belize Development Trust, we simply wanted to promote political self education and the ideas of political reform and better ways of running the country. We wanted to give voters in the nation a third choice outside of the parameters of the two major parties, who were locked in a mud slinging slander battle for control of the $400 million annual revenues of Belize. Considering what we started with, basically two people, the We The People Movement came a long way in just two months. The WTP are fielding eleven candidates and seem now ready to form an alternative third choice to the disgruntled voter. No one in Belize can claim they are choosing the Lesser Evil, or jumping from the Frying Pan into the Fire. That story is a success alone and I'm proud of being able to contribute our services to such a thing in this restricted type democracy. We got some other donations in the amount of $1000 from a local Trust volunteer who wished to be kept secret through fear of victimization and persecution in his business. And another $10 forced upon me, from an Independent candidate, Hubert Elrington outside of the WTP Movement. It is not policy to really help individuals, they have to help themselves. We gave moral support and guidance with organizing skills. With the donated extra money, we put it to two advertisements in the Reporter and the Amandala to help the whole group of eleven as a whole Movement. A full page ad coming out this weekend in the Reporter and a three-quarter page ad coming out in the Amandala. I probably will be back home by then and will miss reading them.

The idea was to peak their group WTP ELEVEN candidate Movement for the weekend before the voting.

The WTP first had to organize and they had to get candidates and get them nominated. After that the problem was to get them to organize and unite with one message, so the strong helped the weak. We also had to promote joint ventures with six other candidates outside the group with their own agendas and hopefully get others in the major two parties to join the WTP should they get the chance to form a new coalition government. While I could prompt and get publicity and provide the cooperative message of UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL, the rest was up to the individuals running in this election themselves. There was no central financial funding and each candidate is working solely on their own resources. So far as I can see, they have all come up to expectations. I'm very, very, pleased with the results. Should they get into power for a new government, they should not however expect any mercy from the Belize Development Trust. We will go after them just as hard and critical as we have supported the UDP and the PUP in the past. We are interested in results and not rhetoric.

The campaign from the advertising viewpoint was interesting. Basically, the Belize City media blocked them out, from both lack of finances and from political connections and biases. The only one that distributed the WTP message was the Reporter newspaper, that tried to be as unbiased and fair as is possible in Belize. The Amandala disappointed me and I'm going to have to rethink my position on the Amandala. I late learned they were PUP for this campaign, due to the owner's son being the PUP Minister of Education. The television Station Channel 5 also gave some coverage, but for the most part, obstacles and outright political interference came from all other media outlets in Belize City. As I write this, things are changing, as the WTP are seen now as an organized threat to the major powers and media business connections. People are starting to cover their bases, just in case! And the WTP are now being courted late in the game, by those previously ignoring and blocking them.

How the election will come out, I do not know? Historically, independent and third parties on political reform have not done well. But from our viewpoint at the Belize Development Trust, the campaign is already an overwhelming success and is providing a third choice to disgruntled voters.

I'm extremely pleased with how things are working out. From here, it is up to the voters of the nation of Belize. But in this election at least, they have a choice!

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