Nomination Day for mayoral and
town councilor candidates went off
smoothly. The parties were represented
by mayoral candidates Danny Guerrero
and his team of six for the UDP, Conchita
Flota and her team of six for the PUP
and Mel Paz and two town councilor
candidates running as Independents.
The first ever Area Rep debate
sponsored by the San Pedro Sun and
Reef Radio/TV was held Wednesday
night in San Pedro and was aired live at
7pm. The participants were Patty Arceo
for the PUP, Manuel Heredia Jr. for the
UDP, Bobby Lopez for the VIP and Mike
Campbell running as an Independent.
The format gave each candidate two
minutes to answer the questions without
prior knowledge or notes. Each candidate
was allowed a one-minute rebuttal.
There were ten questions asked over
three-hour period. There was general
agreement about the need for more and
better educational and healthcare facilities
with the UDP promising a new
The PUP promised two new primary
schools and a new high school.
Both promised a hospital as well. Mr.
Campbell presented a plan to immediately
re-establish the Wings Of Hope
service to San Pedro to allow for emergency
night medical evacuations and
called attention to the improvements
that need to be made now in regards to
efficiency and “customer satisfaction”.
Mr. Lopez acknowledged the community
problems and suggested San Pedro
go to a “Shifts” system where students
go to school at different times of the day.
Mr. Campbell stressed the need for immediate
construction of a new primary
school and high school with both vocational
and technical training available.
The subject of the subvention of the
San Pedro Town Council was addressed.
All agreed that the amount needed to
be raised. Ms. Arceo said that the PUP
was promising a proportional sharing
of income. Mr. Campbell proposed
that no government would ever write a multimillion-dollar check to the San
Pedro Town Council and it would not
be appropriate if they did. Mr. Campbell
proposed that Belize Rural South
become a separate district and have all
ministries represented here with each
getting its fair share of the national budget.
Mr. Lopez and Mr. Campbell commented
on the huge amount of money
that leaves San Pedro and the need for
some to come back.
The subject of Caye Caulker feeling
left out and unattended except at election
time was addressed. Mr. Lopez said
that it was true and he would work to
improve Caye Caulker. Ms. Arceo and
Mr. Heredia both agreed and sympathized
with the Caye Caulker residents
and both stressed their past and present
contributions to health, education,
and beach reclamation on Caye Caulker.
Mr. Campbell pointed out that San
Pedro was also forgotten and neglected
except for election time just the same
as Caye Caulker. Mr. Campbell stated
that he had lived on Caye Caulker and
understood some of their concerns.
Mr. Campbell was in favor of redistricting
in the near future to give Caye
Caulker their own Area Representative
and stated that the primary concern on
Caye Caulker is to not develop as San
Pedro has and a plan must be put in
place to assure that does not happen.
Mr. Lopez cited their healthcare and
waste disposal problems as well as educational
Concerning tourism Mr. Heredia
stated that tourism was recovering and
we had reached the 250,000 for only
the second time ever. Ms Arceo and Mr.
Lopez stressed the need to revitalize
the industry and improve the quality of
service through training. . Mr. Campbell
stated that the BTB marketing had
not worked and San Pedro/Caye Caulker
need to be marketed separately as a
unique destination rather than lumped
with the rest of Belize and that the
Town needs to be cleaned up to give a
All candidates considered the people
and the reef as our best assets. Mr.
Campbell pointed out that we are here
because of the environment and it includes
more than the reef and we must
protect our entire environment or the
tourists will not return and it includes
the mangroves and shallows as well.
Corruption and prosecution of
violators was addressed. Both major
party candidates stated that corruption
was only a perception and not real. Mr.
Campbell gave the definition of corruption
as Bribery, Nepotism, Cronyism
and Patronage, which are all widely
practiced. He noted how this affects
equal opportunity. He also noted that
neither major party candidate had filed
financial reports as required by law and
is subject to $10,000 fine for each year
of infraction. This was not denied.
Mr. Campbell also presented a plan
for the Town to hire a Prosecuting Attorney
who could help pursue corruption
charges. Mr. Lopez pointed out
that this was a problem nationwide as
practically no one has filed any returns
as required by law and should not be
re-elected for that reason and agreed
completely that corruption was real
and was having an economic impact.
Mr. Lopez also stated that he was retiring
with six million dollars and could
not be bribed as he did not need the
Offshore drilling and environmental
degradation by developments was
addressed and three candidates came
out against offshore drilling while Mr.
Heredia said he would not support anything
that would hurt us. Mr. Campbell
explained the effects of oil on coral,
the absence of any meaningful way
to protect from an accident and what
its effects would be on the San Pedro
economy. Mr. Campbell pointed out
that both parties had a commitment to
offshore drilling and regardless of their
expressed opinions Mr. Heredia and
Ms Arceo would be required by law to
vote for their party’s position. This was
not denied by either Ms. Areceo or Mr.
Mr. Lopez agreed and stressed the
importance of not taking a chance with
offshore drilling and commented on
what he considered unfair treatment
by the PM in the recent referendum
rejection. Mr. Campbell expressed
pleasure that the PM seemed inclined
to separate the offshore drilling from drilling in Protected Areas and saw it
as a positive sign. Mr. Campbell stated
that from his personal experience he
knows that tourism developments can
be carried out with minimal environmental
The infectiveness of the police was
discussed. Mr. Campbell proposed
that the Town hire and fire all police
and assure they are well trained, properly
equipped and well paid permanent
members of the community. Mr.
Campbell also proposed that we hire a
Prosecuting Attorney to work with our
Municipal police to raise the conviction
rate and pursue corruption investigations.
Mr. Heredia and Mr. Lopez
agreed with this proposal while Ms
Arceo called for the opening of police
substations in the various parts of San
Pedro and the expansion of the existing
police station and Magistrates’ Court,
which were built during her term as
The subject of San Mateo was addressed.
Both Mr. Heredia and Ms.
Arceo cited what improvements they
had made to San Mateo and their
commitment to continue to work to
improve the conditions. Mr. Heredia
stated that GOB was assuming responsibility
for the main roadway. Mr.
Campbell stated that in his professional
opinion it was impossible to provide
sanitary living conditions in San Mateo
and the project was a bad decision from
when it was started and every attempt
should be made to relocate the residents.
He cited the fact that without
dry ground there is no way to have a
correctly operating septic system and
it will definitely contaminate all the
standing water with fecal material as
is now the case. Both Mr. Heredia and
Ms. Arceo defended the project while
Mr. Lopez agreed with Mr. Campbell
that the residents should be moved for
health and human dignity reasons. Mr.
Campbell emphatically accused both
parties of abdication of their responsibilities
and called for a change.
Throughout the debate both Mr.
Heredia and Ms. Arceo claimed that often
times the money was just not available
for these types of expenditures
and consistently Mr. Campbell stated
that clearly the money was there as we
had given it to them and it was only a
matter of priorities with Mr. Lopez in
complete agreement. The debate was
adjourned at 10pm.