As we write early Thursday morning, it appears that the new Belize Progressive Party (BPP) will nominate candidates in at least 24 of Belize’s 31 electoral constituencies on Friday, October 16 – Nomination Day nationwide for Belize’s November 4 general elections.
The calling of general elections late last month by Prime Minister Dean Barrow caught the BPP off guard. They were still in the process of selecting a name for the new party, which was essentially an amalgam between the Belmopan–founded Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) and the Toledo-based People’s National Party (PNP) of Wil Maheia. The BPP were able to integrate Hipolito Bautista and Lucilo Teck, the leaders of the Northern Districts’ “We The People” party from some years back. We do not know how the Cayo-based political group of Nefretery Nancy Marin and Hector Silva responded to the new party. We have heard there were people in the VIP leadership structure who resisted the BPP initiative.
In principle, this newspaper supports the BPP. We are long-time friends of Patrick Rogers and Wil Maheia, the Leader and Deputy Leader, respectively, of the BPP. We admire Lucilo Teck. In fact, Patrick Rogers some years ago founded the Commoners movement just a few houses down from Kremandala at the Rogers family home corner of Partridge and Vernon Streets.
The BPP should not have been caught off guard by the calling of general elections, but there is now nothing to be done about that. It is an absolute pity that the BPP will not now be able to hold a national convention of the party to fuse their component parts and accept the blessing of the Belizean people in a political ceremony.
From our humble standpoint, the Belize Progressive Party should be looking past November 4 to the day after. To generate credibility amongst Belize’s voters, it is now necessary for political parties to campaign full time, which is to say, from election to election non-stop. Our experience with non-major party candidates is derived from the UBAD Party candidacy of Evan X Hyde in Collet in 1974 and the independent candidacy of Rufus X (a former UBAD officer) in Belize Rural North in 1989. These two candidates averaged 4 percent of the vote, but they were single candidates. The BPP, we suggest, and this is in an arbitrary way, should consider 6 percent of the vote on November as a significant victory. 8 percent would be a major victory. Our opinion, we repeat, is arbitrary.
The importance of the BPP in our opinion is the fact that it proposes a socialist, anti-neoliberal agenda. The national convention would have been so important. All their leaders and candidates would then have had the opportunity to get on board with the economic development philosophies of the BPP Leader, Patrick Rogers. As it is, the BPP is still a work in philosophical progress. We mean no disrespect.
Bottom line, after all the criticisms and suggestions, this newspaper salutes the courage and emphasizes the relevancy of the Belize Progressive Party. The present British political system in Belize, which is called first-past-the-post, is designed to make third parties irrelevant and reduce them to objects of ridicule. Were the political system to be made a system of proportional representation, overnight the BPP would become as relevant as the Liberal Party in the United Kingdom has become, and as relevant as all the smaller parties in Germany, Italy and Israel are.
In any case, whatever the political system, the Belize Progressive Party should look down the road and concentrate on winning the battle for the youth of Belize. The youth of Belize have been bombarded since 1982 and the coming of American cable television with images designed to win them over to materialism and hedonism. The United States is a colossal, imperial force which regards its small satellite states, such as Belize, as fun places for its citizens to relax and have a good time. That is why investments and loans seem always available for tourism projects in Belize, while manufacturing and agro-industrial projects are discouraged amongst native Belizeans. We are here to entertain Americans: this is how we are viewed by the bureaucrats in Washington. This is how Cuba was seen prior to January 1, 1959. We are saying, then, that this is where BPP’s fight has to be: rescue the youth. Such a fight will be a difficult one.
Inside the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP), after their recent electoral victories of smashing proportions, there appears total unity. In the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP), on the other hand, there is a group of 11 standard bearers who were making certain organizational demands and who maintained their solidarity for months. That group included the PUP’s Lake Independence standard bearer, Cordel Hyde, who receives special attention from the UDP because of his relationship with Kremandala.
Because of Cordel Hyde’s candidacy, Kremandala has been denounced as “PUP” by his UDP opponent, the one Mark King. King has erected giant signs and banners at the much-trafficked intersection of Central American Boulevard and Mahogany Street which feature photos of himself and his UDP Leader, Hon. Dean O. Barrow, smiling together. Well, all this does is remind us that Prime Minister Barrow is yet to denounce the public August 12 statements of the said King wherein he threatened to “get rid of” Kremandala, Mose Hyde, and Evan X Hyde.
UDP Mesopotamia area rep/standard bearer, Hon. Michael Finnegan, called Mose Hyde’s talk show on Wednesday morning this week to say that his party respects Kremandala. But Mr. Finnegan, moreover and needless to say, is not Mr. Barrow and he was not speaking for him. So.
This is where we are as we prepare for Nomination Day. There is a strange atmosphere in the air. The voters of Belize are more sophisticated and cynical than they have ever been. Their experience is that Belizeans have no control and little influence over our politicians once we elect them to government. This is as the first-past-the-post system designed it. It would be different with proportional representation. It would be easier to change charlatans with proportional representation. And, if wishes were horses …
Power to the people. Remember Danny Conorquie. Fight for Belize.