San Pedro Politics

Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. launched his campaign for a third term as Area Representative for Belize Rural South on Decision 2012 Monday night January 30th. Hon. Heredia also shared some comments about various other topics under his Ministries. He stated that he had excellent relations with the cruise companies who had complemented him on his performance. He stated that the Tourism Village in Belize City was too small and needed to be made larger and problems in the industry stem from PUP mismanagement during their last term in office. Hon Heredia also stated that overnight tourism had increased last year and he sees it on schedule to show a 3%- 4% growth rate for this year.

His motto for this year is “Siempre Con Tigo”, (Always With You) and he stated that the party had adopted it as their national slogan. He said that the current UDP was like the George Price era as they had also opened their arms to the Central Americans who he has always helped and that 75% of the San Pedro population was Central American or out of district voters. He won by over 1,000 votes last election amounting to 61% of the total and while conceding that Caye Caulker is a PUP stronghold he expects to win by an even larger margin this year. He stated that the PUP lost the last election because of their shabby treatment of Central Americans and out of district voters. When asked when the election would be called Heredia said that only the PM knew that but he personally wanted both elections to be held concurrently so he could better work with his Town Council team and that is what he had advised the PM and if the PM did decide to call the election for March 7th it would show how much the PM respected him.

Hon. Heredia stated that they had about 300 out of district voters they would be bringing in as they have a strong party machine and there is no way the PUP can win. Even though people are not completely satisfied they won’t vote PUP. He stated that all the nationalities he has done have been 100% legal and correct in every respect and he would continue even after the election to help all who ask. Hon. Heredia stressed repeatedly his close ties to the PM and how much he is trusted and respected as is evidenced by his three ministries. He said that he uses money from the ministry to help people on San Pedro by giving contributions to individuals for education, health and other expenses as he does all he can to help as many as possible. He mentioned that he had contributed $5,000 to Ocean Academy on Caye Caulker and helped them periodically and he always gives a little to each of the schools.

He mentioned the work being done to make the San Pedro Airport safer and more attractive and that after San Pedro was finished they would start on the extension of the Municipal Airstrip, which is exceptionally dangerous in its current state. Hon Heredia when asked about his plans for San Pedro he made several announcements. He stated that we needed a “government school” and that the Minister of Education has promised him that if he gets the land they will build a government school on San Pedro.. He announced that they would build a House of Culture for San Pedro, as it is the only town that does not have one and he is the Minister of Culture.

He also announced that the controversial Saca Chispas project was ready to go and should start before elections and he would work with the high school to make improvements and expand the Jr. College.

He also promised to refurbish the beaches of San Pedro. Concerning health care he said that they would first make a 24/7 Emergency Medical Service and then a full hospital for San Pedro. When asked about the streets that are a constant source of frustration for residents he stated that if they were all built up with hardcore and drainage they would last 15 years.

Hon. Heredia Jr. mentioned the squalid conditions in San Mateo and how the PUP had neglected but he has helped and will continue to help try to improve the conditions and stated that the government would be responsible for the cost of the main road into San Mateo. He said that the World Bank has agreed to loan $5,000,000 to make improvements in San Mateo as all the current improvements have been paid for by the Town Council.

Minister Heredia said that it was true that there had been no major projects in San Pedro since he had been in office but stated that he had worked very hard for the people helping them with money for school and doctors as well as helping with land matters and documentation needs and many others.

Hon Heredia said that Caye Caulker would receive a beach reclamation project, a new arts and crafts building, another football field and an expansion project for the R.C. school.

Minister Heredia was asked to comment on the allegations that he had interfered with the system in the case of the accused child molester that was released on $500 bail. He stated that he did not bail the man out and the court records would show that. He says that he does go to the station when someone asks him for help. He talks to all concerned and looks at the evidence and advises but never interferes with the case. He reiterated that he helps anyone that asks him and the entire matter was just a malicious rumor that he had traced back to the PUP and he was sure he knew who started it.

This is a very hot topic in San Pedro and many of both parties are questioning seriously the entire affair and his involvement as the bail was only $500 for the offense and no explanation has been offered. This is the number one topic on the streets and in the shops and that is what triggered the question.

Tuesday night Patty Arceo, PUP Standard Bearer presented her plan for San Pedro. Patty started her presentation by outlining the accomplishments while in office from 1998-2003. During this time the cobblestone road project was started, a new police station and fire station were also started. Also the marina project and DFC projects were advanced during her term of office. There were also various parks and playgrounds that were improved during her term in office. Equally Caye Caulker received many improvements during her term of office. Ms Arceo promised to continue to work for the improvement of Caye Caulker by improving all services including schools and healthcare.

Ms Arceo stated that she promised that San Pedro would receive a proportion of the tax money we generate and announced that the PUP was proposing a fixed date for national elections with a four year term of office as part of their manifesto. She promised to improve parks and sports facilities for all children and make a new cemetery that is badly needed in San Pedro. Ms. Arceo also acknowledged the common problem of roads and promised to do something about it.

Patty stated that she would build a new primary school and would build a Jr. College. When asked about the police issues in san Pedro she said that she would build police and fire substations in the various neighborhoods that would be manned by civilians.

Concerning our health care problems she said they would build a polyclinic 2 that would have an emergency room and 24/7 service. She also stressed a strong commitment to the environment and sustainable development.

BY MIKE CAMPBELL