The RED Tide - Belize General Elections 2008

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 18, No. 6            February 7, 2008

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A triumphant Manuel Heredia Jr. Leads the way with his wife on to an impromptu parade through San Pedro.

Some supporters couldn’t wait to hoist Junior on their shoulders.

Throngs of UDP supporters waited till around 4:30a.m. to congratulate their winning candidate in person. Hugs and smiles were exchanged once Junior left the polling station a winner.

More hugs and cheers for Junior!

Junior barely made it out of the gates to his waiting crowd.

The parade began with great music and dancing and cheering, and in the melee, Junior held on to his family and supporters and friends!

Young, first-time voters celebrate as their candidate is announced the winner.

The parade on the beach was a wild, loud and exuberant one!

The streets were filled with a sea of red – as UDP supporters showed their color throughout the night.

Flags were waved all through the town – the flag of the UDP.

Revelers were ecstatic, and the long line of golf carts and cars that joined the parade were filled with screaming supporters.

Young voters joined the parade as well – announcing their support for Junior, “El Amigo del Pueblo”.

This supporter’s cart broke down, but he got out to push. “Nothing is going to stop us from celebrating this victory!” he exclaimed

This lone PUP supporter watched from her perch, and gave the UDP supporters her two thumbs up!

Thirty one seats were up for grabs and twenty five of them are now occupied by representatives of the United Democratic Party (UDP). Six members of the People’s United Party (PUP) took the remaining available chairs, while independent candidates struck out. Resembling the stunning sweep of Municipal Elections in 2006 when the UDP took many of the town and village councils by storm, majority chairs were won from early and local radio and television stations had unofficially called the elections in favor of the “big red machine”.

    On Friday, February 8th, 2008, Honorable Dean Barrow was officially sworn in by Governor General of Belize Sir Colville Young at 2:00 p.m. while the rest of the new Belizean Government will be sworn on Monday, February 11th, 2008 at Belize House in Belmopan.

    With the numbers still being unofficial, designate Prime Minister Dean Barrow addressed the nation through the many radio and television airwaves thanking the public for the opportunity given to his party. “I am humbled and grateful to the Belizean people for this opportunity to head a new government that will restore our economy and re-establish transparency, accountability and good governance,” he stated.

    In the Belize Rural South constituency, incumbent representative, Honorable Manuel Heredia won by 1,024 votes over PUP standard bearer Murlene “Mel” Spain. PUP’s Spain got 1,464 votes while Honorable Heredia received 2,488. Independent candidate Ernesto “Nasa” Caliz received 54 of the 4,006 votes entered on Election Day. In 2006, he ran as an independent candidate for councilor of San Pedro Town earning 100 votes at that time. 5,470 were the amount of registered voters in Belize Rural South and with 4,006 men and women going to the polls that marked a 73.24% voter turnout. Caye Caulker, which forms part of the Belize Rural South constituency, had a higher percentage of voter turn out than Ambergris Caye with 80.53% as opposed to 73.09% in La Isla Bonita. The six PUP representatives who maintained representation over their constituencies are: Said Musa (Fort George), Francis Fonseca (Freetown), Mark Espat (Albert), Cordel Hyde (Lake Independence), Florencio Marin (Corozal South East) and Johnny Briceńo (Orange Walk Central). Stunning upsets occurred countrywide including the astounding defeat of Belize Rural Central’s PUP candidate Ralph Fonseca who went up against newcomer, and now Area Representative, Michael Hutchinson. Another upset included Attorney General and Tourism Minister Godfrey Smith who was considered one of the most powerful and well financed ministers in the PUP government. On February 7th, he lost to attorney Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington.

    After the official results were tallied, UDP supporters across the nation held motorcades, parades and “jump ups” in honor of the new government. In an interview with Jules Vasquez for Krem and Channel 7 Area Representative for Fort George and outgoing Prime Minister of Belize Said Musa stated that win or lose, 2008 elections were going to be his last.
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