SAN IGNACIO, Cayo–The ruling United Democratic Party and the Opposition People’s United Party led throngs of jubilant political supporters today to the Administration Building in San Ignacio to nominate their candidates for the Cayo North by-election, which was forced by the sudden resignation of the PUP’s Joseph Mahmud and is set to take place in exactly three weeks, on Monday, January 5, paving the way for the 2015 municipal elections.
Both parties are hoping for good political tides which they hope would give a foretaste of positive outcomes in the municipals.
“This is the first domino that will fall and we will deliver this seat of January 5th,” said the PUP’s man, Richard Harrison, who was nominated this morning.
Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca said the PUP will be ready on January 5.
“A vote for the PUP in this election is a vote against Elvin Penner,” Fonseca said.
The Opposition Leader said a vote for the UDP is a vote to continue the corruption that has been plaguing the country. He charged that Penner, the current area rep for Cayo North East, who still sits in Parliament collecting a salary, sold Belizean identity to a criminal sitting in a jail in Taiwan.
He said that a vote for Figueroa is a vote of confidence for Mr. Barrow and the UDP, and for continuing the cover-up for corruption.
UDP Leader, Dean Barrow, who spoke at this afternoon’s rally for Omar Figueroa, said that in the last general elections, the UDP lost a number of seats that he thought they ought not to have lost.
“Some of those defeats wounded me terribly, but none more so than the defeat out here in Cayo North, because I know that traditionally this constituency in the red hills of San Ignacio, this is the heart and soul of the Cayo District. This is the heart and soul of the United Democratic Party,” Barrow said.
“Who would think that not even three years later, here we are ready to take back Cayo North in grand style!” he added.
However, Fonseca said that the UDP has terribly neglected Cayo North, even in the days when they had a UDP area representative.
The UDP represented Cayo North from 2008 to 2012, but people of Cayo North remember that in those days, they got absolutely nothing, he remarked.
Harrison said that the UDP betrayed the trust of the people, and he decried the lack of jobs among young people. He said that there are too many young people without jobs, and they are about to head in the same downward spiral into which Southside Belize City began to sink 20-25 years ago.
“They are going to go the way of Southside Belize City. We need a People’s United Party to turn this thing on its head,” Harrison said.
He also said that the Government had neglected the infrastructure of the area. Harrison said that yesterday, he was in Santa Familia and observed that the road from Santa Familia and Billy White is no longer a road – it is only clay. The Prime Minister went there last year and promised to spend millions in Cayo Northeast for unprecedented development using PetroCaribe funds, which had not happened, he said.
“They refused to fix the road. Now at last moment, they come building some streets in cement,” Harrison said, expressing hope that it is not the same cement used in Belize City, which, he said, “cracks up after 2 or 3 weeks” that will be used on Cayo streets.
He said that the UDP has allocated $450,000 to spend for X-Mas, apart from propaganda money for the upcoming by-election, but, Harrison said, “Take the money. It’s not theirs, but vote PUP, vote Richard Harrison.”
Harrison said that the upcoming by-election is national as well as local. He said that the people of Cayo North want a representative who will stand for them.
“Omar Figueroa will join a sinking ship,” said Harrison.
When 10,000 Belizeans came to the foot of the National Assembly to support the UDP and the national government when they had the PetroCaribe debate, Fonseca challenged him to “roll the elections,” Barrow recollected.
“How long after he went off like that that Mahmud resigned?” he questioned.
Barrow said that just as it appears that the UDP is on a roll, the Leader of the Opposition and the PUP are being completely up-ended.
He said that this is why the UDP decided to call the elections on January 5, “so that the work of progress, so that the work of uplift, so that the work of rehab can proceed straight ahead by Dr. Omar Figueroa.”
Barrow said that on January 5th the people will elect Dr. Omar Figueroa by what he is willing to wager will be the largest margin of victory in the constituency.
(Interviews courtesy KREM TV News)