Former Caribbean Shores area representative and former minister, senator and mayor of Belize City under the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP), Jose Coye, has refused “to go quietly into the sunset” after the results of Sunday’s convention for PUP standard bearer in the North-side Belize City division left him out in the cold.
Coye was soundly defeated by his opponent, Anthony Mahler.
Mahler, an employee at the SMART telecommunications company, beat Coye, an accountant by profession, and a third candidate, Austin Waight, a former national political aspirant and Belize City Council candidate, with nearly 63% of the vote to Coye’s 30%, and 5% for Waight.
He told Amandala just prior to the announcement of the results on Sunday that, “the people [had] spoken and decided that it was time for someone new,” when we asked how meaningful it was to him that he had beaten Coye, and done so convincingly.
But in a signed communication sent to Amandala today, titled “The Irony of Democracy,” Coye railed against the “undue influence” exercised on many of his supporters, and went on to mention the “reprehensible …line of attack made against my family and I …the vilification and acrimony hurled at me and my supporters by the blue sea [his own party, the PUP] of a paid mob.”
Coye claimed that in the camp of one of his opponents, he saw “the faces of those in the upper hierarchy of the party…in numbers from Fort George and Pickstock…both members and surrogates of the G-7 and those who were opposed to it, now lining up against” him.
Coye also said that the ruling UDP interfered in the convention: In his statement he spoke of seeing the “money influence of external forces, such as the UDP [United Democratic Party].”
The G-7, or Group of Seven, was an informal grouping of prominent members of former Prime Minister Said Musa’s Cabinet, that in August of 2004, made demands on him in the wake of a scandal at the Social Security Board (SSB). The G-7 initially resigned, but were eventually persuaded to return to Cabinet, and some of their demands were acceded to.
This same camp, Coye goes on to claim, made an “ostentatious display of seductive wealth,” including big tents, large billboards, nearly 40 taxis lining the nearby Lopez Mateos Park and displaying posters of the candidate, expensive DJ’s and a sound system, cheerleaders — and, he added, “to round it off, an abundance of blue notes that were flooding the homes and streets – all to defeat whom, one of their own??!!”
Coye’s communication named no names, but asked: “…who paid for all this and why? The English political philosopher John Stuart Mill argues that people can know truth only by discovering it for themselves. Find those who came with their strings attached, follow their stings (sic) and you will find the truth.” He concluded, “These are not the views of sour grapes, but the ‘grapes of rational wrath.’”
In today’s Guardian, party organ of the UDP, one Ramon Castillo writes in a commentary on the convention, “I believe what really stunned some at the convention was the physical revelation that Mahler’s bankroller was none other than Godfrey Smith, the very man who has publicly scathed Mahler’s Party Leader, John Briceño… It wasn’t like Godfrey was commanding the operation from afar…the Ashcroft emissary was clothed in PUP blue and greeting the voters of Caribbean Shores while his bagman … doled out the cash. …I’m sure Coye was fully aware that John Briceño and his executive were all supporting Mahler against him. What I don’t think he was aware of…is to have found out that his opponent was being financed by his former Cabinet colleague and fellow G-7 ally.”
Castillo referred to Smith’s online column Flashpoint, in which he recently made a public call for Briceño to resign.
When Amandala visited the convention grounds, we saw Smith, an attorney, senior counsel and former attorney general, standing near the entrance to Trinity Methodist School, the site of the convention on Sunday afternoon.
Coye thanked his supporters, both those who were present on Sunday and those who have been there over his 22-year political career, but lamented, “…I believe that the times and circumstances have been changed by some of the very men and women in whom I so believed…in both political parties. Too many have lost their sense of intimacy, self became the universal reference for decision-making, and it is no longer what is in it for the people, but what is in it for ‘I’.”
He added, forcefully, “It is commonly felt today that the elites, not the masses, govern the society. Sunday’s convention lends truth to the perception that in our democracy the masses elect the leaders but the elites choose who will be leaders. This, I believe, is the ‘IRONY OF OUR DEMACRACY (sic)’.”
Mahler could not be reached for comment at press time, but Smith, this evening in a telephone interview with Amandala, denied the Guardian’s suggestions as “nonsensical,” and the references to his office employee as a “bagman,” as “a complete fabrication.”
Smith told us, “Yes, I was out there for several hours; I had on an Anthony Mahler t-shirt; I was giving him moral support. I know him well. I have worked with him . I know his abilities, and I believe that he was the better candidate and that’s why I gave him my support.”
When we asked him how the PUP would move forward in light of the allegations, Smith said that he could not comment on that, and that we could not speak to him as if he were involved with the party, because, he stated “I am not. I am not involved in the PUP at present…I am not engaged with the People’s United Party, or any other political party, at this time.”
He noted that in addition to criticizing Briceno’s leadership, he had also criticized the UDP and the administration of Prime Minister Dean Barrow in Flashpoint , his online blog, and that both parties had issued statements against him in relation to those comments.
Smith also confirmed that he would not seek his old seat in Pickstock, which goes to convention for the PUP on Labour Day, May 1. Smith’s brother, medical doctor Francis Smith, is a confirmed candidate for that convention.