San Pedro Politics took back seat to the Carnival Celebrations in San Pedro with large groups of partiers painting any and everything in sight. Regardless the campaigning did go on but not with the same fervor. Elections are good for the economy as the parties spend money. Overheard a happy young man in a red shirt celebrating that he had a job to march in two parades. Most campaign workers are paid employees and little can be judged from the size of the parades, which were much smaller than in previous years. The election in San Pedro is markedly different this year as the two parties are not hurling insults and more at each other as has always been the case. This is noted by all and may signify a political maturity descending on the Island.

Friday 17 February on Good Morning San Pedro there was heated discussion of Mike Campbell’s eligibility to run while holding British Citizenship. Mr. Campbell informed all of his history of legal opinions on the subject and of his consultations with the British High Commission and their legal opinion that his candidacy was legal. This touched off a firestorm of borderline personal attacks on Mr. Campbell and British Bashing by VIP Bobby Lopez and Dan Hector Silva by telephone where both claimed that by their interpretation of the constitution Mr. Campbell should not be allowed to run or sit and his doing so means that we are not an independent country and are still subservient to England.

William (Mike) Campbell’s nomination for Area Representative of Belize Rural South was accepted by the Elections and Boundaries Commission at 1:15 pm, Friday 17 February 2012 marking the first time in the history of Belize that a Dual National has been accepted to run for public office. Mr. Campbell in a separate interview reminded all that we hold up Barbados as a positive example and arguably the best Prime Minister they ever had was David Thompson who was a British born Dual National. Unfortunately for Barbados and the Caribbean Mr. Thompson succumbed to pancreatic cancer in October of 2010 and that Belize needs to take a more sophisticated and informed view of the world and our place in it.

Mr. Campbell unveiled his flag of Brown and Beige and noted how it represented the unity of the colors of the people of Belize and how we should all be united for our common upliftment as we are something much better and more powerful when we are united than when we stand apart. Mr. Campbell stated that his color would be Brown and urged all to vote.

The campaigns can be characterized as follows:

The new comer VIP Chairman Bobby Lopez offered the idea to make all of San Pedro a Duty Free Zone. While launching attacks on Mr. Campbell as noted above and attacks on Patty Arceo and Manuel Heredia Jr. for not filing financial reports as required by law, he admits to purchasing lots in San Mateo that were intended for those who are underprivileged claiming he intends to live there when he retires to San Pedro in the immediate future in spite of his announced net worth of over $6 million.

Incumbent Manuel Heredia Jr. points out his years of public service and his commitment to continue to help the people of San Pedro as he has in the past. He relies heavily on a party line supporting all UDP candidates without exception and calls attention to the economic realities of having to work with what little is available during economic hard times. He promised a new government school and a hospital as soon as the land is identified and agrees with the concept of community policing in the very near future. He stresses how he has tried to help all he could with land and necessary but always legal paperwork.

Ex Rep Patty Arceo also stresses her years of service to San Pedro and calls attention to the amount of improvements that happened under her 5 years as opposed to Jr’s 9 year run as Area Rep of BRS. She emphasizes her ability to accomplish this again and the obvious benefits to San Pedro and Caye Caulker. She stresses the need for social programs and sports including better facilities in San Pedro. She stresses the neglect that San Pedro has had for the last 9 years under Manuel Heredia Jr and how the PUP is the answer to the problems of San Pedro.

Mr. Campbell stresses his qualifications and proven ability to work effectively with either party. He states that much of the problem comes from only half of the Town working at a time and that we must all work together at the same time to get the results we desire. He states that if elected he will call for volunteers to serve on the committees and make sure that the composition is equitably distributed between the parties and independents in order to create cooperation between both parties for the good of BRS. He stated that all the candidates and parties have some good ideas and he intends to use them all but all other candidates are lacking in qualifications and experience necessary to solve the problems of Belize Rural South.

In general all candidates agree on the needs of San Pedro but only Mr. Campbell offers concrete realistic solutions to the problems such as street repair, job creation, law enforcement and immediate healthcare needs such as emergency medical evacuation at night. Mr. Lopez suggested we go on a “shifts “system to alleviate crowding in the schools without having to build more schools.

This election looks to be very close with still undecided voters weighing their options. Belize Rural South should be very interesting with one Independent candidate and candidates from three parties contesting the election for Area Rep. There is one Independent candidate as well as candidates from both major parties for Mayor. A strong Independent movement in the traditions of the San Pedro United Movement of the 80’s making its presence felt.

Ramon Reyes Jr. , an unsuccessful PUP candidate for Standard Bearer for Belize Rural South has thrown his support behind Manuel Heredia Jr. and now wears a red shirt.

The Independent