BELMOPAN, Thurs. Mar. 5, 2015–Belmopan Comprehensive High School was the staging ground for the red and the blue machines as the two main parties, the incumbent United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP), labored to get voters out in the steaming heat.
Out of the eight municipalities electing new three-year term town councils, Belmopan had the most mayoral aspirants, with five persons nominated to fill the “Garden City” mayor’s seat.
During the counting, as the word began to trickle out that the UDP was leading, the triumphant sounds of the party’s supporters reverberated in front of the counting station, as the vigil continued into early Thursday morning. Then, it was finally announced that the UDP’s Khalid Belisle and his team of six councilors had triumphed in Belmopan.
A total of 5,716 electors, which represented 63% of the total registered voters in Belmopan, had gone to the poll to elect the new UDP town council.
On election day, politicians of all persuasions say that they are confident of victory, and in some cases, despite the obvious optics staring them in the face, they believe their own propaganda.
The Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) mayoral candidate Hubert Enriquez was optimistic, as he walked around the battle grounds in front of Belmopan Comprehensive High School.
Enriquez told Amandala that he and his team of town council candidates had covered the whole of Belmopan. “This is the first time we have done that as a party. We went street-to-street and house-to-house. We spoke with the people and what we hear is a genuine need for change, to see the quality of life improving in Belmopan,” he said.
“Most definitely, we are projecting a victory today for the VIP,” Enriquez declared.
Another Belmopan mayoral hopeful, Richard Smith, said, “Belmopan voters have 5 choices and I just pray that residents would come out and do their thing.”
Smith explained that he was not worried about the apparent dominance of the two major political parties, because at the end of the day, he said, “I can give account of my finances.”
Smith said he has spent around $20,000 and it was mismanagement to spend more than that.
“What is on the ground and what people are leaning toward is a mix- up,” Smith said, “I will be the same. Richard Smith has a vision for Belize. If I don’t win, I will still be victorious, because I am pioneering a new direction for the nation of Belize.”
The other two mayoral candidates in the Belmopan race were the PUP’s Jose Chacon and the retired engineer, Wilfredo “Ernesto” Guerrero.
The mood of UDP supporters around the polling station became more upbeat with the arrival of Prime Minister and UDP Leader Dean Barrow, who walked through the ranks of his supporters posing for photographs and answering questions from reporters.
Amandala asked PM Barrow what were his feelings about the voter turnout from the areas that he had visited.
Without missing a beat, he replied, “Excellent, excellent. Benque looks like a blowout and so does San Ignacio/Santa Elena.”
“I just arrived in Belmopan and this looks absolutely the same. Doing well, looking good, prepared to continue working for the people, the transformation continues,” PM Barrow commented.
“I appreciate the fact that residents of Belmopan are coming out to exercise their democratic rights,” the UDP’s Khalid Belisle told Amandala, further noting, “as far as what’s happening, numbers-wise, we are pleased with what we have so far. We had a nice little push right out of the gate.”
Belisle added, “I think, if we do our job today, we will get the result that we are looking for.”
“We’ve had a steady stream all morning. I’ve been standing at the gate here and I see our people bringing out our supporters, so I am happy,” Belisle went on to say.
What are some of the changes that a Khalid Belisle-led Belmopan Town Council would implement, Amandala asked Belisle.
“Well, we are definitely going to continue the massive infrastructural transformation underway here in Belmopan. But more importantly, perhaps, we want to start now a social transformation,” Belisle explained.
“Belmopan residents, we have this habit of going from 8 to 5, so we are losing touch with each other. The social fabric of our society is something we want to bring back. A theme that we’ve campaigned on is inclusiveness, including the citizens in the decision-making process and the execution of those decisions.” he said.
“We are looking to give Belmopan a fresh start and a good start. Not just a fresh start, because fresh could go stale quickly, but a good fresh start,” Belisle told us.