Master of Ceremonies, Angel Nuņez declared the convention open and asked the crowd to rise and sing the National Anthem. After the anthem was sung Nuņez asked, " I trust you paid attention to the words...' No tyrants here linger, despots must flee...' Mr. Esquivel must go!" Nuņez then called on Edilberto Marin to offer the welcome address.
Marin introduced and welcomed to the convention Party Leader, Hon. Said Musa; Party Chairman, Hon. Jorge Espat; Area Representative Hon. Glenn Godfrey; Senator Dolores Balderamos Garcia; Deputy Party Leader Hon. Johnny Briceņo; Belize City Councilor Danny Madrid and Belize Rural South Standard Bearer Patty Arceo.
"The one thing on our minds today is to select and bring a winning team for town board elections," Marin said, "and next March an even bigger crowd will elect a PUP town board. With that in mind, let's begin our nominations."
MC Nuņez invited the people who planned to make nominations to come forward and explained that each nomination must be seconded. Mr. Alan Forman was first to speak, he nominated Hector Trejo. Alberto "Beto" Nuņez was nominated by Beto Marin; Gilberto "Chico" Gomez nominated Mandy Castillo; Evelia Paz nominated Pedro Ayuso; Mr. Donald Connors nominated Eiden Salazar Jr; Santiago Acosta nominated Omar Guerrero and Butch Sabido nominated Elito Arceo. All were seconded. It was then moved nominations be closed.
Party Chairman Jorge Espat declared the candidates to be officially elected by the convention and pledged to work for all to gain victory in March. He invited the candidates to speak to the party.
Elito Arceo thanked the convention for its support and pledged that come March there will be a PUP town board. "We will do our utmost to serve the people of San Pedro first."
MC Nuņez counseled the candidates, "Do not promise free education; do not promise free land, if you want to promise us a vat for our houses, we'll take that vat."
Pedro Ayuso said, "This is the second time I stand in front of you for a candidacy. I will do my best for the people of San Pedro and residents - everybody. This is my island, I was born here, I will be buried here, I promise you to do my best."
"I was elected by you as a candidate for town board. It is a challenge. There is lots of work to be done, there needs to be communication between the public and the councilors. I will work to keep La Isla Bonita, and maintain it," promised candidate Mandy Castillo.
PUP town councilor Alberto "Beto" Nuņez, received a round of applause when he was introduced. Nuņez addressed the members in Spanish. He recalled the tremendous growth of the island from the days of the chicleros to tourism. The growth has brought large problems to solve. He said he would continue to work for the town and to see it develop to the benefit of all. Hector Trejo also addressed the gathering in Spanish. Trejo thanked the party for its confidence in him and offered himself to work for the continued progress of San Pedro Town.
Eiden Salazar Jr, opened by telling everyone, "Eiden Salazar is ready for town board elections. The PUP is by far much better than the UDP. We will go house to house, to all those who have been neglected. Vote PUP for the love of this island, for the love of your children, for the love of sports, and for the love of our town. We are a good representation. Vote for Eiden Salazar Jr."
Candidate Omar Guerrero was not able to speak as he was officiating at a sports event.
Commenting on the dynamism of the candidates, MC Nuņez encouraged the party to unite behind them and vote PUP. "Bring San Pedro back to not three but seven town board councilors. They have capable hands, don't take things for granted - you have to vote on election day. I now present to you Dolores Balderamos Garcia, our next Minister of Tourism and standard bearer of Port Loyola."
Senator Balderamos Garcia greeted the audience saying, "This is a wonderful afternoon, my heart is full. I feel good whenever we have a gathering. We can feel the spirit, we love our party and our country. We come here together with no shame, our participation will make our country a better place. It is crying out for leadership. We cannot tolerate five more years. This is important business we are doing today, making sure in the town board elections and in 1998 we bring back the PUP. This is the sorriest excuse we have ever seen as a government. We must take them out. How? By making sure we succeed in the town board elections. I am here today to support your town board candidates and to be in solidarity with Patty Arceo so that two women are elected to the PUP. The men think they're going to have their way - they're wrong." She said that the work to be accomplished was difficult, that every voter needs to be convinced to vote PUP and especially those who are first time voters. "Seven times they must put a X beside the PUP. Let us feel good about ourselves today. We are a family, doing party business. We will work hard together to bring victory for our seven candidates."
Party Chairman Jorge Espat in his opening remarks said he had pledged and was committed to work hard to bring victory to every district in the country. "We have lost one election in San Pedro and we are coming back with a bang to win this election. We have a younger, more dynamic kind of leadership that we need. We are dissatisfied with the current government's tax policy on one of the country's leading industries - the tourism industry. The PUP recognized tourism and its potential and we will put it (the industry) back where it belongs.
Do not let Henry Young lie to us, deceive us. The Olympics in the U.S. is a joke to explain the decline. Incompetent reckless taxation has ruined the industry. Under George Price it was vibrant and growing, on the rise when we left office. He gives us excuse after excuse - we want results. Airline riticize a government that is bankrupt, one that has the wrong tourism, wrong education and wrong immigration policy... Under Said Musa our first priority will be education. We realize we must create opportunities, create jobs. We have come back here to San Pedro to work and create a better Belize. There are too many without jobs. We want a Belize with a dynamic economy, that is environmentally healthy with a working democracy."
Johnny Briceņo, Deputy Party Leader, told the convention that when he was asked to come to San Pedro to endorse the PUP town board candidates, "I asked if Mrs. Parham was in town. I hear she's not in San Pedro. I understand that Esquivel has driven her out of the country." Briceņo commented that the Prime Minister had been in Orange Walk on Friday, and was bragging that the government is giving the civil service and teachers a 2% increase. "Imagine! 2%. The PUP offered them 10 to 12%." Briceņo said that Mr. Esquivel had told the people that we can help Belizeans or Mexicans by going to Mexico to spend. "VAT - makes us go. We have to go to buy in Mexico, not because we love Mexicans but because we love ourselves and we cannot pay VAT." Esquivel told the people we are now on top of the hill. Someone from the crowd shouted, 'now it's all downhill for you'.
"San Pedro and Orange Walk have a lot in common," he said. "Three years ago we both lost 4 seats. We are both ready for a PUP town board. I understand San Pedro collects over a million in property taxes and yet the streets are a disgrace. Where is that money? They fixed the park for $60,000, where's the rest of the money? San Pedro is saying enough - we are ready for PUP councilors, tired of victimization and high taxes and what about 'toothpick man'? We will take over in March when they call the elections."
In response to Briceņo's question about 'toothpick man', MC Nuņez responded that he had changed his name. "Some say that he is a bird or a bat as he flies around a lot. Others say he's just a rat, so he is a combination of bird and rat - we call him a BRAT -BRATman. He's a member of the Unpopular Disrupted Party."
"This election is about what will happen to this country as a whole," stated Hon. Glenn Godfrey. "Your job is to send a message - when they come to your house ask them, 'Tell me about the promises you made last time? From ABC to UCB, what about that? Remind them about free land. All they've done is take land away. They did not fill San Pedrito, all they had to do was fill. Now people are living in a swamp." He referred to the San Juan area where lots were not filled, no streets, etc. "When the PUP gets in they will take care of those problems, like they did before - but that's not the way things should be done"
Godfrey recalled the campaign slogan of the UDP candidates when they campaigned in San Pedro - "They promised they would deliver - more tourists. Do you have more? No. This is because of the bad policies of the chairman. Tourists don't have to come here, they don't have to pay taxes - you do. Your loans are in default at the bank - has life improved since June 1993? You pay more for water, more for electricity and more for VAT. The only thing that has gone up is your blood pressure.
Foreign exchange? We can't get it, we can't buy the things we need. They are not delivering. There were projects that were lined up for San Pedro - they were stopped because they were not UDP projects. They turned down a grant from the Bliss Trust for a civic center, they said no, we don't want it. About sports - they went back and brought in the PUP to help with sports. They need the PUP. The country needs the PUP. It is a young vibrant party with good strong members and George Price who we can rely on for reference."
A cry went out before the next speaker, Patty Arceo began. "VAT man, get rid of VAT man, Bratman, get rid of Bratman."
Arceo told the convention she proudly endorsed and stood behind the seven candidates. "I promise you the PUP will deliver the town board. In order for us to win the general election, we must elect the seven PUP candidates to the town board. They will serve all, and all Belizeans who have chosen San Pedro to be their home. We are tired of having to squat down because of the way the UDP treats us, look at education, sports and tourism. I look forward to working with all of you. Que Viva!"
Newly elected Party Leader Said Musa in his opening remarks said he was present in San Pedro to give support to the seven PUP candidates who will form the next town board. "I bring greetings from our Leader Emeritus, George Price, who will visit San Pedro soon. We have had good speakers today who have told us why we should vote. This is a good mixture of candidates, a good blend, if we rally we will get change in San Pedro. We deserve better, and better will come with the PUP. The government in power is dividing people with hatred - there is no room in San Pedro for hate and division, the work must be for all the people. Three years ago after the elections they began to dissemble a land program that was in effect here in San Pedro. The lot holders behind the high school have been given leases, the PUP will make sure they get title. The 200 people who put up their money will get their lots.
The economy is in crisis. People are n the valley of doom and destruction. Unemployment is rampant. People can't get work. People from Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize City and Dangriga - they're here in San Pedro looking for work. 40% of our young people can't get jobs. There is no foreign exchange, no money to lend, a lack of confidence. The UDP's are not for the people, they are for themselves. The time has come to take on the task of moving the country forward. Giving it hope - we will revitalize the country with new jobs - give Belizeans a stake in Belize.
The PUP will empower the young - education will be our number one priority. I don't promise free education - but every child who has merit will not be denied the opportunity.
We will build more schools, hire more teachers. Remember the 2% the UDP is giving the teachers - remind them that three years ago they were guaranteed 10 - 12%. It is now 2% with no interest on what they are due - it is a cheat, a fraud.
This is a rogue government, Ministers are abusing the law. The PUP will tell it straight, expose them until we bring good government to Belize. Que Viva PUP. Que Viva San Pedro."
Ernesto Caliz was called on to give the vote of thanks. "Today we have taken another step on the road of democracy, the right to choose people to govern our lives. It is not an easy task to bring Belize from where it is. Our National Anthem - let tyrants flee - refers to colonialism. Since 1981 as Belizeans we have our flag and our national identity - thanks to George Price and the PUP. We will not chase them out of the country, we will chase them out of the town board. We are not dealing with cows, we are dealing with people. We will be victimized no more, they will be replaced with loving people. Elect the PUP. Thank God, he put people into power and he can take them away. We say thanks to our youth, you are for the people, you have the power."