Belize’s two major
political parties are in convention mode, selecting their candidates for the
next General Elections. But these constituency conventions have created all
kinds of intrigues inside and outside the Opposition People’s United Party
executive. The PUP, it appears, are in sour grapes season.
Supporters of Toledo East aspirant Leonard Chavarria came to
Belize City on Monday, February 21, to protest the Party’s decision not to
allow him to participate in a convention which will endorse PUP Deputy Leader
Mike Espat as standard bearer for Toledo East on Sunday, March 6.
Chavarria and his
supporters got the media’s attention, as they inended, and were unsparing in
their criticism of Party Leader, John Briceño.
On national television,
Chavarria declared he will not support Espat and he is withdrawing his support
from the PUP until Briceño is no longer Party Leader.
By Friday, Briceño
came under a different kind of attack.
Internet blogger, Godfrey
Smith, himself a former Deputy Leader and a former Minister of government who
had initially opposed Briceño’s
candidacy for the party leadership,
lashed out at Briceño in a brutally savage attack, asking him to
“Please go, Mr. Briceño. Please go!”
In Smith’s opinion, the
PUP is in a leadership crisis with two more years to go before General
Chavarria has told The
Reporter that as far as he is aware, his challenge of Mike Espat had
the support of the Party’s Order of
Distinguished Service .
By Monday, February 28,
an outstanding member of the ODS, Hector Silva Sr. sent Briceño a letter,
resigning from the ODS.
Silva’s letter summed up
his view of the PUP electoral fortunes, when it said: “I can assure you and the
world that presently the PUP cannot win, not even a constituency.”
Silva told Briceño that
when his replacing Silva as a Senator, because the party needed stronger
voices, “was a monumental mistake.”
Silva told The
Reporter that Briceño decided to exclude him from the Toledo East
convention when he became aware that Chavarria had the ODS’ blessings.
Briceño told The Reporter the accusation is “an
absolute lie”. Briceño said he had nothing to do with Chavarria’s
candidacy or its demise.
While Briceño admitted to knowing Chavarria, he denied having
anything to do with his challenge against
But that is not how Godfrey Smith sees it in his Flashpoint
Smith chastised Briceño for his lack of leadership and
“The PUP has a leadership crisis right now and the only out
for the PUP in the general elections is to get rid of John Briceño.”
Smith allowed that
Briceño “has survived (the past three years of leadership) and will soon begin
his fumbling, frustrating, fourth year as Leader of the Opposition. The Party should not allow him to complete it.
Three years is enough time for any leader to get a handle on his party and
start moving it forward.
“The PUP is actually going
backwards! Smith said.
But while Smith’s public
flogging of Briceño might sound
like constructive criticism to political analysts, Briceño
chose to downplay the whole thing.
“He is entitled to his opinion. I am in firm control of the
Party and I have the support of the party. He (Smith) is irrelevant!”
At least one PUP executive member who preferred to remain
anonymous, said Smith’s criticisms of the Leader are just sour grapes, pure and
And at a PUP Central Council meeting on Saturday, February
26, none other than Godfrey Smith’s brother, Dr. Francis Smith, an aspiring for
the standard bearer of the Pickstock Division (Godfrey’s old constituency),
urged the PUP executive not to be distracted by his brother’s comments.
It should also be noted that three elected PUP
parliamentarians were absent from Saturday’s PUP Council Meeting, which
discussed, among other things, the upcoming municipal elections and the crisis
situation into which the constituency conventions have plunged the Party.
The effect of all that is happening within and around the PUP
executive may perhaps best be measured, when Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow
announces his new budget next week.
The PUP have announced a protest in Belmopan to coincide
with the budget reading.