BELIZE CITY, Wed. Nov. 4, 2015–The Orange Walk District has four electoral constituencies and today, all the political colors were out in their fullest force, but the predominant colors dominating the landscape were those of the two major political parties, the incumbent United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP). Evidence of the newly formed Belize Progressive Party (BPP) could be seen at a few spots.
The war for Orange Walk was intense. Supporters of the two parties clashed violently in the days leading up to the general elections, when UDP and PUP supporters wrangled with each other over the messages that were contained on their parties’ signs in San Jose, in the Orange Walk North constituency.
Today, about half an hour before the polls closed, there were more clashes between supporters of the UDP and the PUP in the Orange Walk North constituency at the Trial Farm Government School, which was serving as a polling area.
This time, however, as the tension was about to escalate, police had to fire several rounds in the air to maintain the peace. The sounds of gunshots sent supporters of both the UDP and the PUP running in different directions.
Fortunately, there were no injuries, and a massive shower of rain came down just in time to calm hot tempers.
Police subsequently detained Emil Cervantes, a son of Ramon “Munchi” Cervantes, Jr., and one of Cervantes’ campaign workers, Efrain Alpuche.
Alpuche told Amandala that a group of UDP supporters were chasing two PUP supporters and when he intervened, police took him and the young Cervantes into custody.
“About ten policemen arrested me,” Alpuche explained.
The young Cervantes was released from police custody around 9:00 p.m., while Alpuche was freed around midnight without any charges being laid against the two.
Earlier during the afternoon, there was a rush to the gate of the Trial Farm Government School, as police attempted to bar one of Cervantes’ campaign workers from entering.
Suddenly, there was a convergence of blue and red T-shirts at the gate as the two candidates, Ramon Cervantes and Gaspar Vega, stood almost side by side, while a police corporal deliberated over whether he should let in Cervantes’ worker.
Cervantes told Amandala that the government side wanted to have control of who entered and exited the polling area.
“They want the police to keep out our party workers,” Cervantes said.
Vega told Amandala that he thought the first shower helped to keep everyone “cool”. This was before the police had fired the shots later on in the evening.
Vega explained that Trial Farm is the biggest area in the Orange Walk North constituency. Vega, surrounded by supporters decked out in T-shirts bearing his name, said that he was satisfied with the voter turnout.
After the polls had closed and the results were tabulated, Vega polled 53.42 percent of the total votes cast, garnering 3,551 votes to put him back in the Orange Walk North seat in the House of Representatives.
The Belize Progressive Party candidate Onofre Vellos received 19 votes, which accounts for 0.29 percent of the total votes cast.
Cervantes received 3,062 votes, finishing with 46.07 percent of the votes.
Of the 7,894 registered voters in the Orange Walk North constituency, 6,647 went to the polls, which represented 84.20 percent of the total number of registered voters for the constituency.
The Orange Walk Central constituency has been the stronghold of the former PUP leader John Briceño for the past four general elections.
Unlike the massive build-up of supporters in the Orange Walk North, the Orange Walk Central appeared calm and organized as voters made their way to the polling areas.
Briceño told Amandala that his game plan had been working. “Our street captains have been getting our people out. The rains have dampened things a little bit, but there is a lot of excitement in our team and we feel quite confident about the turnout,” Briceño told Amandala shortly after midday.
Briceño added, “I don’t care too much about the numbers. What matters is that we have been getting out our people, which is good for us.”
Briceño said that he is not a newcomer: “I have built up a personal relationship with the voters,” he said.
Briceño said that he felt that the PUP had picked up some momentum.
“We have been campaigning across the length and breadth of the country and people feel the need for a change,” he said.
We were not able to locate Briceño’s UDP challenger, Denny Grijalva Cruz.
When the results finally came in for the Orange Walk Central constituency, John Briceño ended up with 50.65 percent of the total votes cast, garnering some 2,710 votes compared to his main opponent, the UDP’s Denny Grijaluva Cruz, who picked up 2,087 votes for a total of 39.01 percent of the total votes cast.
The Belize Progressive Party (BPP) candidate for the Orange Walk Central, Phillip De La Fuente, received 497 votes. This constitutes 9.21 percent of the 5350 total votes cast in the Orange Walk Central constituency, where there were 60 rejected ballots.
Briceño returns to the seat he has occupied in the House of Representatives for the past three terms.
In the Orange Walk East race, former Assistant Commissioner of Police Elodio Aragon, Jr., of the UDP, faced off with the PUP’s Josue Noe Carballo.
Aragon was in high spirits and told Amandala that he was optimistic that he would pull off the victory.
“We have been working and my campaigners are bringing out the voters,” Aragon said, as he slipped away to greet a few voters who were arriving in their red T-shirts.
The PUP’s Carballo was also optimistic that he would pull off a win in the constituency.
Carballo told Amandala that he did not know what percentage of the voters had voted about two hours before the polls were scheduled to close.
“I am out here fully concentrating on bringing out the voters. You can see that we have a constant flow of people. You can see the machinery is working,” Carballo explained. “We have been out here from 4:00 this morning; we are very organized and our people are responding,” he said.
When the final tally was in, however, Aragon, a first-time candidate for national office, captured the Orange Walk East constituency with 3,000 votes, which represents 53.04 percent of the 5656 total votes cast, while Carballo finished with 2,453, or 43.37 percent of the votes.
The BPP candidate, Javier Reyes, picked up 161 votes, representing 2.85 percent of the balloting for the constituency.
In the Orange Walk South contest, the PUP’s incumbent, Jose Abelardo Mai, retained his seat with 2,920 votes or 50.02 percent of the 5,838 total votes cast. The UDP’s Guadalupe “Lupe” Dyck Magaña, finished with 2,858 votes, for 48.96 percent of the votes cast.
The BPP candidate, a veteran independent politician, Hipolito Ingacio Bautista, garnered 37 votes – 0.63 percent of the votes cast in that area.