In our editorial on Tuesday, we pointed out that the heat on the ruling UDP should definitely be more intense than it is, given the amount of “hot button” issues which have arisen recently and thrown a negative light on the present administration. We suggested that there may be a disconnect between the philosophy/policies of the Opposition PUP and the interests of the trade unions/workers of Belize. In this column, I would go even further: I would say that this present PUP does not seem to have harnessed the energies of the youth.
The PUP came out of the March 2012 general elections somewhat surprised by their 14-seat performance, and definitely upbeat. There were a couple area representatives from the South and the West, in fact, who were thrilled by their ascension in the power structure of the party, and they wanted to protect their new national power. For sure, after the last generals the PUP embarked on a period of several months where it seemed as if they were convinced they could win in 2017 (or whenever) by concentrating on the Districts outside of Belize, Districts where they had won more seats than the UDP in 2012.
It appears at this stage that the UDP this year have won more village councils than they did in 2010, when Orange Walk Central’s Johnny Briceño was leading the PUP. The village council results are not all that unexpected, because Belizean villagers, like the bulk of Belizean voters, are more politically sophisticated than they have ever been. They realize how immensely powerful the national government is, that the UDP may control Belmopan for the next four years, and so the pragmatic villager will not rush to go against the UDP at this stage of the political cycle. This pragmatism favors the ruling party, as well as the fact that the UDP village slates have more resources available for campaigning and election day logistics.
With that said, there is little doubt, nevertheless, that the PUP will examine its situation and its strategies from a less cocksure perspective in the months ahead. There is nothing quite like election arithmetic to shake up the status quo in political parties which do not perform as well as they thought they would.
Someone in the PUP leadership structure has instructed that the party line on Kremandala be that Kremandala cannot criticize Prime Minister Barrow because we are on his payroll. Sometimes the party line goes so far as to include personal attacks on myself on their radio station. We pointed out in the aforementioned editorial, however, that the PUP had no reason not to give more support to last week’s COLA demonstration against the KHMH infant mortalities. This brings me back to my suggestion in the first paragraph that the present PUP does not seem to have harnessed the energies of the youth. I refer, of course, to urban youth. I can’t speak for the rural areas. How the second part of this paragraph relates to the first part is insofar as it exposes a kind of denial syndrome in PUP leadership where present reality is concerned.
COLA is not all that youthful in its leadership. But, it is the youngest activist organization currently operating in the population center. The PUP has made only token efforts to take advantage of COLA’s anti-government energy. In the words of romance, they would probably like to sleep with COLA, but they don’t want to get married to COLA.
It is not as if the PUP does not have an eye on things, especially things Kremandala. For example, a young Kremandala employee who had moved from the security section on Partridge to become a roving KREM Radio reporter recently made a big splash with a community day in the Lake Independence area. A PUP functionary immediately came to him and suggested he go to see “Ralph.” So, the PUP is doing an amount of homework. But, there is no getting away from the fact that, where the mood in the streets is concerned, the UDP is practically getting away with murder.
I said earlier this year that COLA does not speak for me. My old friend, Rufus X, who is very much involved with COLA, took this personally, as if I were hanging him out to dry. I will therefore explain why I said what I said. In January of 2010, COLA organized a demonstration against “artificial borders” and a couple other things, a demonstration in which I participated. I believe the organization was led at the time by Moses Sulph. The march/demonstration could have been better organized. In the immediate aftermath of that march/demonstration, the PUP’s National Perspective (Sunday, February 7, 2010) launched an all-out personal attack on me in their newspaper. The attack was vicious and it was defamatory.
I decided then that I could not be involved in any more COLA activities, because I have my street reputation to protect. The historic record shows that I fought the PUP government between 1970 and 1972 when the PUP were at the peak of their power. Whenever I entered the streets with my organization, we did so all-out. I am not an enemy of COLA, but COLA does not speak for me. What is it about that that you don’t understand?
Power to the people.