From 7 News Last night:
Is Briceno Grooming Himself To Be The PUP's Next Leader
He's been Deputy Party Leader of the PUP for 10 years but
is Johnny Briceno getting ready to take charge of the
PUP? Well, there are a few qualified and ranking pup's
who could step up to take the job, but Briceno is next in
line, and he is declaring himself ready. How do we
know this? Well last night, he appeared on the evening
newscast of his family-owned TV station in Orange Walk,
When asked by interviewer and employee Michael Rudon if
he has considered his options, in the event that, "the
current leadership decides to step down." Briceno
answered, "certainly its something that you believe
that the day will come when you will have to step up to
the plate...I think that I now have the experience and
that whenever that time comes, I will be ready to take
over the leadership of the party..." Sounds to us like
a man on a mission, and when we spoke with him today, we
asked John Briceno is he ready to challenge for the
leadership of the PUP, and in the event of a loss in
the upcoming general elections, how long would he wait
for the current party leader to step down?
At what point does the leadership of the PUP and of
the government of Belize, by Said Musa, with so many
mistakes having been made, at one point that does
leadership come into question, that perhaps at this time
with the battering he has taken in public and
continues to take, that perhaps his leadership at a
certain point becomes unviable? Are you of the view that
it will at a certain point become unviable and the
Prime Minister should or might choose to step down?
Hon. Johnny Briceno, PUP Deputy Leader
"Well I think everybody would accept that only the
Prime Minister, at the end of the day, he as the
leader of the government, whenever we have issues like
this in any country, at the end of the day the Prime
Minister or the President would have to accept some
sort of responsibility for his government.
The Prime Minister has not shied away from that and he
has paid a heavy price because of that and he admits
that. As to whether his leadership is viable or not, I
think it is too early to talk about that at this moment.
He continues to have the support of the party and of
his Cabinet Ministers and that is why until that time
I think it is too early to be speculating about that."
However certainly, were the Prime Minister or the
party leader to choose at some point in the future to
step down, certainly as the deputy for ten years at
this point, the deputy party leader, you would be next in
Hon. Johnny Briceno,
"Well I don't understand about next in line but
certainly being the deputy leader for the past ten
years I think I have been given a wonderful opportunity
by the Prime Minister, the party leader, to be his
deputy, both as deputy leader and as Deputy Prime
Minister. I believe that over the past ten years, 8 years
as deputy Prime Minister, that I have learnt a lot and
I will always be grateful to him for that opportunity.
Should he decide to step down, do I think that I am
ready? I am think that I am. I think that I have the
experience. Will I do it? I guess we will have to look
at the options that are available at that time."
If it ever arises are you prepared to challenge the
Prime Minister or the party leader, are you prepared
to challenge the party leader for leadership if it so
happened that let's just say that the PUP would lose the
election and he remains interested in being party
leader, and the loss is squarely on his shoulders as
the then prime minister and party leader, would you be
prepared to challenge him?
Hon. Johnny Briceno,
"Well certainly at this moment why do believe that it
is difficult for us to win elections, I still have
confidence in the party and this government that if we
continue to do the right thing, as we have been doing, we
have been reducing the debt, we've been holding tight
to our spending in government, yet we continue to
provide social services to our people, education, and the
list can go on.
I still do believe that the people still believe in this
government, still believe in the PUP. After 2008
should we have a loss, what will happen then would be
anybody's guest at that time and I think it is going to
be too early to speculate. But like in politics you
never close any doors, you never say never and I think
time will be the judge of that."
But if the party fails at the polls, would it not have
been essentially a failure of the leadership of the
party to lead in a competent way and at that point
should not the leader then, as Mr. Esquivel did, just
immediately walk away, were we to reach that point?
Hon. Johnny Briceno,
"Again the party leader at that time would have to
weigh his options. The leadership within the party,
the different members of the party, all of them would
have to weigh their options and decide whether they'll
continue under Said Musa or will they will be looking
around for a new leader. But only time will tell."
We might note that in over 5 decades of political
pluralism in Belize, no mass party has been led by a
politician who is not from Belize City. Though he's
the senior deputy, Briceno shares the party deputy leader
post with Vildo Marin and Godfrey Smith. Marin just
emerged from a bitterly contested divisional
convention with a less than convincing victory,
mobilizing only 15% of the vote in his favor.