The San Ignacio/Santa Elena saga continues and the relations between the red mayor and blue councilors of the twin towns are as tumultuous as ever.
Yesterday we told you that over the long weekend, the UDP geared up for a tell-all press conference which would publicize the alleged unethical desires of the councilors to purge the town hall of the UDP supporters.
And the saviour of these supposed supporters would be their Mayor, Earl Trapp - the lone unsung red hero in a sea of blue.
But the tables turned when the councilors fired back in an extortion-styled letter, basically blackmailing the mayor to say that if he used the town hall for his conference, the councilors would then reveal his own alleged dirty deeds.
And in this twin town tug of war, the mayor decided to err on the side of caution, if only to ensure that those who were in danger of being terminated - and those who had already lost their jobs - were given the option to fight back. So the conference was moved to the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, and Courtney Menzies was there to cover it. Here is that story.
Several employees at the San Ignacio/Santa Elena town hall are in danger of being fired, and the UDP believe the terminations are politically motivated.
But the 5 PUP councilors must first go through their UDP mayor - the only one in the country - and Earl Trapp is adamant about protecting the workers. In a press conference that he organized, he aired the dirty laundry of majority of his councilors.
Earl Trapp, Mayor of San Ignacio/Santa Elena
"The idea of striking out or terminating 20 employees is basically to bring twenty of their supporters. As a matter of fact one of the councilors mentioned in one of our meetings that what we're supposed to do is basically fire fifty percent of our employees to bring in fifty percent of their supporters. This is highly immoral and highly unethical."
"I was reelected as the mayor so now they cannot come and maneuver and terminate the entire staff as some municipalities have done. So in this light as one of their leaders mentioned to me last week, mayor maybe we can sit around the table and maybe brainstorm and restructure that overtime we can accommodate them with one or two or some vacancies but you cannot just come and say we will terminate these people because you believe those people are UDP's or these people have been supporting, they are people, that is highly inhumane and like I said, it's illegal, it's unlawful, and I will not entertain it."
And he was backed up by none other than his party leader, Patrick Faber, who claimed that the PUP councilors feel like they can disregard their mayor because of the results of the last two elections.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Party Leader, UDP
"When it is you are the only UDP mayor in all of our municipalities, and when it is the PUP won so convincingly in the last municipal elections across the country, they feel like they can disregard you, they feel like they can walk over you, they feel like they can simply dismiss your efforts so we today place on record our solidarity with you and we say to the workers, this UDP mayor has your back."
"We stand in solidarity with all of those employees that have been unjustly terminated and the party stands ready to offer any kind of help that we can in order to make those wrongs right."
And that help comes in the form of legal advice. Attorney Orson "OJ" Elrington has said that hundreds of Belizeans who have been terminated from government offices both in municipalities and in central government have requested the services of his law firm.
Orson "OJ" Elrington, Attorney
"How much have been terminated across the country, like the party leader indicated, it would be very difficult to make such determination but I can tell you that the number of person who have contacted our law firm is maybe about 400 plus so that is the number that we know personally about. And that includes again in central government and municipalities. As well as other statutory bodies."
"It is important that they treat the laborers, the employees of Belize, with the necessary respect that they deserve and this includes ensuring that they get their necessary severance packages, I can tell you there are hundreds of persons who have yet to receive their severance packages. The laws of Belize are clear that if you do choose to terminate the services of someone then you need to ensure that their severance package is provided within one month of that termination."
But while the UDP is calling out the PUP, both parties are guilty of terminations based on political affiliations. When we asked the party leader about the hypocrisy of the press conference, he admitted that these types of games with people's livelihoods need to come to an end.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Party Leader, UDP
"Rather than trying to play musical chairs with the jobs that exist what we ought to be doing is try to expand opportunities so that other jobs can expand in other areas."
"I can tell you that as the leader of this party that if things had gone differently in November, that the kinds of games- and the amazing thing is that you will think that after being in opposition for so long the pup would have learnt the lesson that these are not the kinds of games you want to play because things can change back. We want to stop this nonsense of playing political football and start playing for the Belizean people."