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Marty Offline OP
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Today was nomination day for municipal elections - meaning that in all 9 towns and cities, candidates went to elections and boundaries offices and presented themselves as candidates.

It's a mere formality, but tradition dictates that the major mass parties must represent with major muscle in the streets on nomination day.

The biggest show is usually reserved for the city - which is where the media is centered.

This morning, the PUP got the first go at it - and here's how the opposition's procession looked and felt:

Jules Vasquez Reporting

The PUP procession started out with a rally at Berger Field.

For Mayoral candidate Karen Bodden, it was her moment - her opportunity to seize the stage.

Karen Bodden
"Liberation is here, Belize city; liberation is here."

With her city council candidates lined up at the head of the crowd - it was time to start the procession.

Francis Fonseca - Party Leader, PUP
"We are very pleased with the people who have come out to support our municipal teams, and, as I said earlier in my remarks, this is the beginning of our march to victory, Jules."

The crowd was very spirited, and very loud, but we wouldn't say it was huge. We counted about 250 to 300 supporters which is not bad - certainly more than the last slate had on nomination day in 2009.

According to the party chairman, each constituency was supposed to bring out 50 supporters - and we are sure a few of them didn't.

But the boisterous, raucous spirit of the crowd clearly communicated that the party is battle ready - a task that had to be duplicated in all municipalities. Fonseca said they didn't spend anything on getting the crowd out today:

Francis Fonseca
"Well it is always important to show that you are battle ready, but our resources are focused on the campaign infrastructure in our various constituencies and on getting ready for Election Day. So we have not spent any money getting people out today."

Well they must have spent some money - but these blue notes in circulation were only usable as political tender.

For mayoral candidate Karen Bodden it was her first time leading such a large procession - She was a school-teacher just months ago but today she seemed calm and at ease in the charge of the moment:

Jules Vasquez
"You are a political newcomer. Are you sometimes overtaken by the moment - by the momentum of all these events?"

Karen Bodden
"Not really overtaken - excited. I'm excited, as I said earlier in November, that I am excited to be a part of change."

Jules Vasquez
"What have you learned in this process of electioneering?"

Karen Bodden
"Actually it has taught me a lot about the conditions of our people and helped me to better understand my students because I have gotten a birds-eye view of life in Belize City."

And those Sadie Vernon students lined up to see their former teacher as she passed on Mahogany Street.

And on that same Mahogany street stretch, police had to intervene as a crowd of UDP supporters gathered to rile up their PUP opponents.

That was more fun and games than anything on this day when the political atmosphere was charged but not overly-tense.

Inside the yard at the CB Hyde Building, the candidates went one by one with their two endorsers to pay their two hundred dollar deposit and become a candidate for the municipal election:

Peter Lacey - PUP Council Candidate
"This is bittersweet because the pageantry of politics is one thing, but then the reality when you go and campaign is another. You know people are supporting us, but the quality of life is dismal right now."

Jules Vasquez
"Agreeable, the city - the poverty in the city - is deplorable; anyone can see that, but it's not something that happened in the past four years. This city is the product of the institutional, structural neglect over decades - under PUP, UDP, PUP, UDP again."

Peter Lacey
"Yes, sir."

Jules Vasquez
"You can't change that in one term."

Peter Lacey - PUP Councilor Candidate
"Sir I'm not here to come and make any apologies for past politicians - both red and blue - but as a newcomer, I don't see color. I see Belizeans, and I believe that together we can change the institution."

Swami Babani - PUP Councilor Candidate
"We have a great turnout of people, and the change is inevitable."

Jules Vasquez
"Ok, suppose I challenge you and said you don't really have a great turnout; you have maybe 250-300 people."

Swami Babani
"Well, you know today is a working day, Jules; everyone needs to work, and how vindictive this government is - people can't come out, man; you know that."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you be intimidated or put off if the UDP has a bigger crowd this afternoon?"

Swami Babani
"I won't, no. The crowds and the polls don't vote. It's the people at the end of the day who vote, and they are in government, so they have the finances to pay their people to come. You know that, right?"

Alberto Vellos - PUP Councilor Candidate
"You might ask me why is it that we feel we stand a chance; I believe we stand a chance because the people really want change now - not only in the city, but in the country. But they are asking for serious change. They are asking for the people they elect to have a level of consciousness to do better. We are not here promising grand ideas. We are not promising a beach; we are not promising a free-zone downtown. We are promising that we will get back to the basics to fixing the streets, maintaining the streets on a regular basis, cleaning the drains - and it can happen. "

Jules Vasquez
"Erwin you are a 'sellout'."

Erwin X - PUP Councilor Candidate

Jules Vasquez
"You are dealing with the 'man'."

Erwin X -PUP Councilor Candidate

Jules Vasquez
"How do you answer that criticism?"

Erwin X - PUP Councilor Candidate
"Well the way I answer that is that it is not a criticism. It is just a state of misunderstanding. Because I am a Belizean; I am a nationalist; I am a patriot; I'm an activist; I'm a champion of the poor; I'm the number one poet in the city, and I am a voice for the voiceless. I believe that the time for leadership at this level is now, and that is the reason why Erwin x is involved with the greatest political movement in this nation - PUP."

Lennox DJ Tambran Young - PUP councilor candidate
"It is overwhelming; the PUP came out; I know the UDP did not expect this crowd, but we are here; we are here to stay, and now I have to write down my name and make sure that we deliver the people from all this bondage of suffering."

Jules Vasquez
"Now will you feel a way if the UDP has a bigger crowd than you all this afternoon?"

Lennox DJ Tambran Young
"No, it's not about crowd, it is about when you go to the ballot box and show them that, you know, what we want - The People's United Party - and we are fed up and are tired of the suffering, and it is time for a change."

And all the candidates were duly nominated and picture perfect for the election in three weeks time, but with Generals on the same day - does it really matter?:

Jules Vasquez
"Now city council has become a sort of footnote because the general elections are on that day. Do you feel that some of the city council issues are being sort of overshadowed?"

Swami Babani
"Well it is, yes, because it is a dual election, but the people are different; the electors are different. They want to vote differently for the central government and the city council, but we are not being overshadowed. People know the condition of the streets; it is terrible and we are here to serve them."

Of note is that we are told police confiscated a bag of those dollar bills featuring a caricature of the Prime Minister.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Marty Offline OP
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UDP candidates lead grand procession through Belize City

At 1pm today, the UDP machinery was up and going in the old Capital. Hundreds of UDP supporters gathered at the UDP headquarters and then proceeded to march similar route as the PUP. And as in Belmopan, the procession included a horse at the front and a band as well. It was a very spirited crowd that made its way to the complex building. We spoke with UDP leader and Prime Minister Dean Barrow who explained why he is confident that they will win the next general elections.

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize
We are confident that our machine will be in tip-top shape. One of the reasons for calling both elections on the same day is so that the entire party could be engaged. We therefore have absolutely no doubt that in terms of getting out the vote on March 7th, we are going to be immensely successful.

But today's nominations, as we said, was for municipal elections and UDP Mayoral Candidate Darell Bradley says that his team has what he is calling a hundred day plan which will be ready to put into action from the first day if they are elected. Bradley commented that his plan includes some novel ideas for job creation.

Darell Bradley, UDP Mayoral Candidate
We will be very open. I remember when I was at the debate, in my opening presentation I indicated that problems facing Belize City are not PUP problems or UDP problems; they are all of our problems and the solutions can only come when we unite and put aside our differences. Off course our party is very strong, but we need to unify people and bring the collective intelligent skills and capacities of all our people toward that work of national development. I am the kind of leader that is very assertive and very strong, but I am a people's person and I believe that I can bring people together, even from the opposition and the independent parties and I can inspire that kind of confidence that can generate ideas to move this city forward.


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Marty Offline OP
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Mass supporters of the PUP turn out for nominations in Belize City

In Belize City, the crowds were larger and we start off with the People's United Party candidates in Belize City. The PUP candidates assembled at the Berger field on Vernon street where at least 300 party supporters gathered and from there marched to the Elections and boundaries office inside the complex building. The mood was hype and optimistic and we asked the leader of the opposition how he was feeling about his party's chances.

Francis Fonseca, Leader, PUP
We have a great PUP team for City Council and we are on the march to victory with Karen Boden and her team. So we are feeling great; the crowd is hyped up and we are ready to take over City Hall.

PUP's Mayoral candidate is Karen Boden. Boden was also optimistic and explained that the campaign trail has been enlightening and encouraging so far.

Karen Boden, PUP Mayoral Candidate, Belize City
First of all, I am humbled when I visit with the people. I listen to them as they share their concerns with me. I am humbled that they give me the time to listen to my vision as I share it with them. I am also excited because I believe these elections are about change. I believe that especially in the Municipal Elections - it is about change and I am excited to be a part of that change.

Leader of the opposition Hon. Francis Fonseca says that he is satisfied with the level of support that gathered today but he is confident that on Friday, which is nominations for general elections, the support will be even greater.


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Marty Offline OP
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Third parties demonstrate confidence on nomination day

Vision Inspired by the People also had their supporters, flags and buses out today for nomination day. While the third party does not have a full slate, they are quite confident that they can get a mixed slate elected. We spoke with the VIP Belize City mayoral candidate Paco Smith who says that he is willing to work with a mixed slate.

Paco Smith, VIP Mayoral Candidate
VIP represents hope for the city, but it goes even beyond hope, because I have the outmost confidence in the team that I have constructed; they are committed and dedicated. One of our hallmarks is that we will base our administration on the principles and the adherence to good governance practices.

Independent candidate Stephen Okeke did not have much of a big crowd of supporters today but he is not deterred. Okeke says that if he is elected he will bring an entrepreneurial type of leadership.

Steveb Okeke, Independent Mayoral Candidate
The direction I am following has to do more with entrepreneur leadership. However we do it, we want to wrench the city from political parties. We need to give back ownership of Belize City to the city residents. We need to belong again. The first week we open the City Council finances to the public, the era of secrecy will be over and then we can begin to practice inclusive and participative governance, where your suggestion, opinion and concern, with the wisdom of God form the basis for our decision.

Ernesto Toress, another independent candidate, says that he is confident that he will be the next mayor.

Ernesto Torres, Independent Mayoral Candidate
People are insisting that they will vote for me. People are telling me that they will definitely vote for me. I don't think they will lie to me like that. I don't think will people stop me on the street or call me before I even enter their homes and say 'Mr. Torres, don't worry yourself Sir, you have our vote.' I don't think people will lie, I think that our people at this point are genuine and really want a fresh beginning.

Nomination day for General Elections is Friday February 17 and Cabinet has also agreed that the Election Day, Wednesday, March 7, is going to be a public and bank holiday.


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Marty Offline OP
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PUP's Nomination Day Parade, Better, But Not The Best

After being outdone in terms of numbers, energy and mass appeal on the city council nomination day - the PUP had the pressure on them to make a recovery today for the general election nomination.

And, to a fair degree, they did. Indeed, they weren't the PUP of 1998 which rolled like a tremendous machine - but the numbers put out were meant to show that the party - while it may not be as well funded as the good old days - can still walk with some swagger in the city.

Here's how they looked:

Jules Vasquez Reporting

The old blue and white was aloft this morning as the PUP started their rally with some speeches to pump up a good sized crowd, and the support should have been there - all 10 seats in the city had their supporters out.

Today they did have live music and that frenzied carnival atmosphere.

From a distance, above on Vernon Street - with the crowd stripped of its charge - the lead group seemed smaller, but up close it still had a carnival atmosphere.

Taken in its entirety - the crowd was significantly larger than what the PUP had on Wednesday - maybe three times as large.

On Mahogany Street, Fonseca walked with his family - not glad handing and waving, but that is not his style.

When they curled into the administration building it was around 11:00, and the formidable length of the procession was apparent - with some still left to arrive.

Francis Fonseca - Party Leader, PUP
"We are very encouraged by the turn-out, and across the country, I can tell you the reports I've been getting from other standard bearers in all other districts are that, similarly, people have come out in large numbers to support our candidates. And we are very encouraged by that, and I think it's a representation of the fact that our constituencies are in fact organized and that we are working with our people."

The crush at the gate was furious as the candidates and their six nominees each tried to get in - away from the swarm of supporters.

The endorsers - registered electors in the relevant divisions - were there to sign on the line and nominate their candidates.

Rt. Hon. Said Musa - PUP Candidate for Fort George, 8th Nomination
"You know, when I woke up this morning, I thought that it would have been just another day for me, as you said, because I've been through this thing so many times. But somehow, when you see the crowds of the people - when you feel the energy - I get pumped up too, and it's right there again, back in the swing of things."

Dr Francis Smith - PUP Candidate for Pickstock
"I am accustomed to facing challenges. I worked at the Karl Heusner for many years without resources. So this is absolutely nothing new; I like challenges, and as the saying goes, when things get rough, the tough gets going, and I am tough. Poor people have understanding; they know I don't have money, but they know that I have love, and I feel extremely appreciative of the turn-out today, especially in my division because I cannot match that $40,000 Christmas money, plus $50,000 in January. That's $90,000 to give away, Jules, so I cannot match it, and they understand that. What I am feeling is simply that the tide is coming in for us, the PUP, and my faith is that the tide is the people. So, I really believe that the PUP ships are afloat, and the people will take us to victory."

Phillip Palacio - PUP Candidate for Mesopotamia
"Basically, this election - no matter how it goes in Mesopotamia - will be a transition. I'm going to take over any way, so I'm asking the people - better earlier now, than later."

Jules Vasquez
"You mean that Mr Finnegan will step aside."

Phillip Palacio
"Yes, Finnegan is going to come out, and I am going to be the area representative in there anyway. So, just give me the run now; if it's going to be now, it's going to be later."

Jules Vasquez
"How hard is it going up in a division that is considered such a safe seat, and in terms of Mr Finnegan has developed - over all those 20 years you've spoken about - a personal relationship with the voters?"

Phillip Palacio
"Incredibly difficult, Jules; I won't underestimate what the difficulty is."

Jules Vasquez
"How hard is it for you going up against a). an unbeaten incumbent and b). the Prime Minister of Belize who has an array of resources at his disposal?"

Anthony Sylvester - PUP Candidate, Queen's Square
"Well, Jules, rather than looking at it from that perspective, I look at it from the positive perspective. The prime minister has been the representative of Queen Square for over 28 years, and as you go about in the division, as you canvass, and you talk to the residents of the division - even some of his - I would call - strongest supporters - they're very much displeased and dissatisfied. I feel hopeful; this is life, whenever you feel as though there is no reason to have hope, then what takes place is what we see in at large right now. There is a lot of hopelessness."

David Craig - PUP Candidate, Albert
"It's a very steep learning curve; it's almost vertical for me coming in two weeks, but, you know what, the people of Albert have responded. I have a very strong community with me. We are not small; we are not doing things in the traditional strategic way by putting huge numbers out there on the street and putting everything on every lamp post. What we are doing, is every second of the day, we are strategizing and getting into people's homes. And we know that we can't get into 3300 - to see 3300 people. So what we've been doing, Jules, we've been bringing people to us. I formed my own committee, but let me tell you this: Mark's people have been helping us. Mark's people have been helping us every step of the way, if not out-rightly so, every step of the way, they've been pushing for us, and I'm grateful for them. I'll be forever grateful because they are blue. They are blue in their hearts. Having grown up in the Price family, and having been steeped in the policies of the People's United Party that brought this country to where it is right now, something had to have stuck with me."

Jules Vasquez
"How do you respond to the UDP's version that you are in fact a vulnerable seat?"

Francis Fonseca - PUP Party Leader/Candidate for Freetown
"I think that's a fantasy world indeed. No, I don't feel at all vulnerable in Freetown. I have always said that Freetown is always a fight. I don't consider it a safe seat for the People's United Party. That is not the approach I take to Freetown. My approach is one in which we have to focus on our relationship with the people. I have a relationship with the people for the past 10 years. I think that it's a strong relationship. We survived the red tide last time - barely - as you know. But we survived the red tide. I feel very confident, Jules, that when the votes are counted on March 7, we will deliver another victory for the People's United Party in Freetown."

And while the PUP may be safe in Freetown - it's clear that even if the party showed some of its old flash and muscle tone - it's not the buff political presence that dominated in 1998 - which is the last time they swept the UDP out of office:

Jules Vasquez
"The PUP at this time doesn't seem to have the muscle, the machinery and the money that was associated with it when you were leader in 1998.

Said Musa
"Yes, there is now doubt that the ruling party today, the UDP, has outspent the PUP by - I would say - at least 6 to 1 in this election. And there is no doubt that we don't have the resources as a party that the UDP has. There is no doubt that the Government has been using government resources, like $90,000 to each standard bearer."

Jules Vasquez
"If you had to call the election now, how would you call it?"

Said Musa
"I would say that it's going to be a close election - very close. It's going to be close but I feel that - and I'm being very sincere with you - I believe that over the past month, despite the setbacks we've had with people stepping down and all that, the PUP has been gaining a certain momentum. And if we can sustain this momentum now right through to Election Day, PUP will win."

Jules Vasquez
"If the PUP were to lose, will it still be your fault? A lot of people have said that the state of disarray -"

Said Musa
"I don't mind when they blame Said Musa, you know, because we have a new leader. Francis Fonseca will be the next prime minister of Belize. I can take all the heat."

UDP Marched "Like A Tremendous Machine"

And while Musa is still willing to take the blame, UDP Party Leader Dean Barrow is ready to take all the credit for an unprecedentedly large showing by his party today.

In terms of a non-national event - concentrated to only city-based supporters - we haven't seen anything quite like what the UDP rolled out today.

But we wondered, is it a function of genuine popularity or money politics taken to another level?

That's what we asked party leader Dean Barrow:

Jules Vasquez Reporting

Dean Barrow - Party Leader, UDP
"This is the greatest display that I have seen all my years of politics on a any nomination day."

Indeed, the UDP crowd is the biggest we have seen for any nomination day parade - it extended from the junction of Vernon Street and Central American Boulevard right up to the Belchina bridge - as their supporters kept saying, a sea of red.

Each of the city's ten divisions had its own crowd, it's own box or band, and its own steam - from above we'd put the crowd in the range of two thousand because, while some divisions had about 100 supporters, some of them also had four hundred - some even had two different sets of crowds.

The crowd visibly throbbed from above, but on the ground, it was wild - like the atmosphere of Carnival, 10th and 21st all wrapped into one red blanket.

Party Leader Dean Barrow led the way high-stepping with his faithful supporters.

Dean Barrow
"I have to feel that this is, without a doubt, a huge victory with perhaps even bigger numbers than last time."

Jules Vasquez
"But is this indicative of electoral progress, is it indicative of just money?"

Dean Barrow
"No, I think that it is without a doubt indicative of of electoral progress. People on the sidelines are enthusiastic; there is spontaneous support for the UDP."

Jules Vasquez
"What accounts for this unprecedented show today?"

Patrick Faber - UDP Party Chairman, Collet Candidate
"Hard work, Jules, we have been organizing this party for elections for at least the last - I'd say - 15 months or so."

Jules Vasquez
"how much of it is a function of the fact that the UDP is a wealthy, resourced party. These people won't come out here for free."

Patrick Faber
"I don't know where you get that from, you know. The UDP has been a party for the people. The people of Collet - for instance - know that their representative has been there for them, and that's why they are out here today. You know that they can rely on Patrick Faber and the UDP for another 5 years, and we will be there for the people. So this isn't a rent-a-crowd, Jules. This is support based on the fact that the United Democratic Party is a party for the people."

Anthony "Boots" Martinez went down to the pavement for his people and even did a dance with his opponent from 2008 Oscar Rosado - whose on the right side of your picture, who not only danced with Martinez, he also nominated him:

Anthony Boots Martinez - UDP Candidate Port Loyola
"My former opponent is one of the endorsers of my nomination today."

Jules Vasquez
"What is this crowd indicative of? Sometimes people think that maybe the UDP is the 'gouty man'. UDP has the money right now, so people will come out with them."

Anthony "Boots" Martinez
"You can interview people out here and see if they are collecting anything. This is all about love; this is all about 4 years of hard work. This is about the fruits of labor."

Jules Vasquez
"I spoke to Mr. Fonseca this morning. He said that it's an electoral fantasy.There is no way you can win in Freetown."

Lee Mark Chang - UDP Candidate, Freetown
"Freetown deserves the best, and Freetown will choose the best best candidate to lead Freetown."

Jules Vasquez
"But he can be Prime Minister, and they want to vote for a Prime Minister."

Lee Mark Chang
"If he wanted to be Prime Minister, he would have started working a long time. That man is doing nothing, and he does not deserve to represent Freetown."

Jules Vasquez
"I spoke to your opponent this morning, and he said that what he is telling voters is that it's better that they vote for him from now because you will not stay in office. You will win and then step down."

Michael Finnegan - UDP Candidate, Mesopotamia
"Poor little fellow; he is a poor little fellow."

Jules Vasquez
"From what you've seen on nomination days, how does crowd compare?"

Michael Finnegan
"Let me tell you the truth. Whoever brings out the crowd on nomination day wins the general election."

Jules Vasquez
"Before, you've told me that you see Jan canoe dances than this. That was what you told me when PUP used to bring the crowd."

Michael Finnegan
"Whoever brings out the biggest crowd, wins the general election."

And Faber was brought to the nomination office on the shoulders of his supporters - the kind of gesture that gives the UDP a feeling of supreme confidence and being comfortably at ease going into the March 7th election.

Michael Finnegan
"The UDP will win massively in Belize City, and the UDP will win comfortably throughout the country."

Jules Vasquez
"What kind of victory numerically?"

Dean Barrow
"I don't see us winning less than 20 seats."

So what's the bottom line on the crowds? Well, the UDP one was definitely larger, but it's hard to have a precise figure because of the number of vehicles in the way. But, judging based on the time it took for the procession to pass an area and its general mass, we'd say the UDP had about two and half times the crowd of the PUP, with the PUP having between 750 to one thousand, and the UDP having about 1,750 to two thousand.

The UDP is reporting large crowds in a number of areas, but one that caught our eye was in Orange Walk - where the Deputy Prime Minister Gapi Vega seems to have outdone his boss, the PM. As we showed you on Wednesday, Party Leader Dean Barrow went out in front of the parade and greeted voters. Well Gaspar Vega did the same thing, except he ran! For the entire length of his procession! Whether he was trying to re-enact a scene from Rocky - we don't know, but we can say that he definitely got the workout of the day running about one and a half miles from the park in Trial Farm to the nomination station in town.

Channel 7

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