Is Belize Ready For The BPP?

The November fourth general election is less than five weeks away - and the third parties of Belize have come together under one umbrella - in the hopes of offering the electorate a legitimate alternative to what's become known as the "PUDP. " The Belize Progressive Party was launched today at the BIM Complex in Belize City - and we got to meet their 11 candidates. Jules Vasquez reports:

Jules Vasquez reporting
This is the Belize Progressive Party - a coalition of three independent parties We The People, VIP and PNP

Charles Leslie, Chairman - BPP
"We decide that it is time for the shedding our names and to start a national political party."

Patrick Rogers, Party Leader - BPP
"We are about forming a labor movement. So our ideology, our philosophy is based on labor. We are in effect the labor party of Belize. If the labor unions did the right thing we would have 67 candidates with us right now today. We would bring that for you Belize. But of course the PM went ahead and dabbed everybody hands with Petrocaribe money."

Today they presented 11 candidates, Edna Diaz Corozal Southeast, Lucilo Teck - Corozal Southwest, Hipolito Bautista - OW South, Roy Rodriguez - Corozal Bay, Ion Cacho - Pickstock, Herctor Palomo, Corozal North, Bobby Lopez - BRS, Charles Leslie for Belmopan, Andrew Williams for Cayo South, Patrick Rogers, Collett Division and Deputy Leader Wil Maheia.

Wil Maheia, Deputy Leader - BPP
"Hereby declare my candidacy for Toledo East, which includes Sarstoon Island."

Now, that's 11, not 31:

Patrick Rogers, Party Leader - BPP
"We were caught literally off guard, because we were at the point of bringing more independence on board. But I am sure before Nomination Day on the 16th, we will have over 20 candidates."

They are running for political office - but don't dare call them politicians:

Paco Smith, Chairman, BPP
"The BPP is not comprise of politicians. For the record, we are agents of change."

Patrick Rogers, Party Leader - BPP
"All of us don't need to win. We don't need 60."

Paco Smith, Chairman, BPP
"Your Belize Progressive Party is not here to replace the UDP nor the PUP. Our purpose is to change the game."

But one game that's hard to change is the money game - politics depends on it - even if not in handouts:

Patrick Rogers, Party Leader - BPP
"We will be going door to door. We won't have any money to go into our pockets and say "hold ya." That is not how we operate."

But even without handouts, the BPP estimates that they will need 432 thousand dollars for a national campaign:

Bobby Lopez, National Campaign Manager
"I am appealing to 100 business persons to kindly supply us $4,326. Don't tell me you can't do that. To level the business playing field in this country, a business man would gladly invest that and don't expect anything in return."

The party knows that it has an uphill struggle:

Patrick Rogers, Party Leader - BPP
"We understand clearly that this struggle we've taken on may turn out to be a multi-generational struggle."

Paco Smith, Chairman, BPP
"8867 today, 8867 tomorrow and 8867 forever."

That last bit - referring to eight thousand eight hundred and sixty seven square miles that make up Belize's territory - is the party's slogan.

As you heard in the story, the party hopes to attract at least 10 more candidates before nomination day on October 16th.

Now, at the start of the story we reported that three independent parties: the VIP, The WTP and the PNP had come together under the Belize Progressive Party umbrella - but this morning we saw the VIP's chairman Hubert Enriquez sent out a release under its own name and letter head. It laments what it calls a corrupt voter's list and suggests that it may not contest the November fourth election saying, quote, "The VIP shall in the next few days engage in consultations with its members announce its decision to the Belizean People."

Chairman Enriquez confirmed to us that the VIP remains an independent party, "separate and apart" from the BPP. He said that Bobby Lopez, Patrick Rogers and Paco Smith resigned from the party. Respectively, they are now the Campaign Manager, Party Leader and Chairman of the BPP.

Channel 7