Two weeks ago, an unusual ad appeared in the Belize Times. It was for Said Musa's divisional convention which it advertised as a People's Assembly. Well, we hadn't heard about one of those since 1998 - back when Musa was Party Leader. And if that wasn't enough to pique our interest, the ad announced that Cordel Hyde would be a special guest speaker.
That's news because Hyde, a former PUP political star has been rumoured to be returning to the PUP, but rumours never morphed into fact - and he remains out on the edges of the big blue tent. But last night's convention seemed like a sort of home-coming for the 3 time Lake I area representative, who stepped down as a candidate in January 2012. 7News was at St. Mary's Hall to see an event that's very rare these days: an old fashioned political spectacle - here's how it went:..
Jules Vasquez reporting
They say there's no place like home and so it is for Said Musa, who, after 39 years years in the Fort George division, and 7 terms, the last 6 in a row arrived to the welcome of well-loved figure.
The 69 year old still has the spring in his step, even as he has two politically active sons waiting in the wings.
And while the welcome for the veteran was uproarious, as it was for the leader of the opposition, who was born and raised in the area, the must exultant cheers of the night came for Cordel Hyde, who appeared at his first mainstream PUP event since JUNE, 2011. He wore the colour that latterly has become his trademark, bright yellow, not party blue.
Still though, those wearing blue embraced him heartily, and if you could read lips, those lips seem to be saying, it's been a long time, and welcome.
Henry Usher, PUP Party Chairman
"With Francis Fonseca leading us and Said, Dolores, Johnny, Julius and Cordel here to support him. We will work towards freedom and fight we must because freedom is not free."
"Alright, I like that. I am back. I haven't gone anywhere, I was right here."
Henry Usher, PUP Party Chairman
"We all know Cordel didn't go anywhere. We all know that Cordel is here to stay and he will win again when he runs."
The other guest speaker, Dickie Bradley arrived rock star style during Cordel Hyde's speech, an hour and a half late but he knew the lines bg heart:
Dickie Bradley, Guest Speaker
"I especially want to pay massive respect to the new area representative of Lake Independence."
Francis Fonseca, PUP Leader
"My friends, Cordel Hyde from Lake Independence, I want to thank Cordel for being here tonight. Cordel of course is no stranger to the people of Fort George. No stranger of course to the People's United Party. He is a part of our PUP family."
And though he's being called family and welcomed back, at a convention it's all very unofficial. So what really was this appearance about?
Mike Rudon, reporter
"What are we looking at here tonight, are you back in the PUP?"
"The truth of the matter is that I never really left the PUP. I was telling Parks that I got invited to this convention. It's been a while since I've spoken at a convention. But the nature of politics is such that once you're invited to a convention to come and greet and interact with the rank and file of the People's United Party, you are duty bound to oblige, so that why I am here tonight."
Mike Rudon, reporter
"How far has the discussion gone with you coming back in Lake Independence?"
"We've had we some discussions, some meetings, I've met with the Party Leader and a couple of the past leaders, but we still some more talking to do and some more work to do before we finalize everything."
"Is it fair to say there is a significant block in the party which opposes your return?"
"I am not sure. You would have to ask them. I am sure there is some resistance."
But though he's still floating on the periphery, Hyde that have senior advice to offer his party:
"If you look at all that is happening in the country right now with all the scandals and how unpopular the government is right now. When you really think about it the party hasn't really gain its traction that it is supposed to gain when you consider all that's happening and there is a reason for that. By and large the independent people, by and large the swing voters, are not really convinced just yet that the party has returned to its social justice roots. You can't just say it, you have to show them, in a tangible way. For example I was saying to them tonight, you can't have the unions go to Belmopan to demonstrate and you don't go with them. If they are going to take two thousand people then you have to take two thousand people with them. You have to show them that you have their back. This was a party that was built on the backs of the unions."
"It has been criticized that the PUP is financially strapped. Are you prepared to show your face and to be out there more aggressively, considering the fact that resources are low and the UDP seems to be swinging in finances?"
"Two things; I think the People's United Party needs to as I said not just return to its social justice roots, but show that it is and that starts with how you fund the party. I think you really have to go back to the poor people and sell turkey dinners, have bar-b-que - have them participate in the party - have them take ownership in the party. Yes nowadays politics is an expensive process, but if you get people involved at the grass roots level, you can do a significant amount of fundraising."
"In this day and age, we have to go back to the people - have the people fund their own party, have the people participate in the life of their party, so that after the elections you don't have a case where the big man... listen, the big man only votes one time just like everybody else in politics - you, Jules, Mikey, Roland, me vote one time. The big man votes one time. But after the election they get treated like they vote three thousand times, more than Louise from up the street. That has to stop in politics. That has to stop because at the end of the day we have to be on the side of the people."
And while those notions may seem romantic, it was Hyde who turned against the kind of PUP that was indebted to big donors under former Leader Said Musa. That Musa is now the man bringing him back into the fold, is a neat historical irony - and Hyde knew well enough to pay his respects:
"You have to give a man respect who won in 5 different decades; 5 star general because we don't have any more here."
Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"I have to confess to you tonight that I was seriously thinking of retiring after this term of office. But when I see the love of you the people in the Fort George, I can't help it but run again in the Fort George."
The convention lasted three hours, and, in case there was ever any doubt, Said Musa was endorsed as its standard bearer for the ninth time.