Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Listening to Mr. Santiago “Santino” Castillo announcing his endorsement and undivided support for Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner for a third term in office in next month’s City Council elections begs me to ask one salient question.
Allow me first to backtrack a little to the 2015 general elections when the UDP saw its third consecutive term in national office. According to my research, that same election year, the UDP was bracing through its own internal party rumblings, so much that 2 other Ministers also stepped down, namely Herman Longsworth (Albert) and Elvin Penner (Cayo North East), who was deselected by his own party leadership.
On Thursday, April 16, 2015, Belize Breaking News posted a report on its Facebook page with the caption: ”Santino Castillo hands over to Darrell Bradley in Caribbean Shores.” The report went on to state that ”Bradley was slated to contest the Caribbean Shores electoral division against the incumbent Minister of State Hon. Santiago ‘Santino’ Castillo, Jr. on June 7 in an open convention, but today the one-term representative threw in the towel that he did not want to put the party through what he is still sure would be a bruising internal fight on the order of the upcoming showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.” (sic)
In the 4th November, 2015 General Elections, the UDP was re-elected to a third term, garnering 19 seats or 50.5 % of the total votes cast, while the PUP captured 12 seats or 47.7 %. In the Caribbean Shores division where Mr. Santiago Castillo had stepped down to give way for incumbent Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley (Note: the UDP had also won the March 2015 City Council elections), first-time PUP candidate Kareem Musa narrowly won the division by 56 votes (1777 to 1721). Five years later in the 2020 General Elections, Kareem Musa went on to give his UDP opponent, Lee Mark Chang, another rookie candidate, a sound political beating of 707 votes (2194 to 1487), making Hon. Kareem Musa the Caribbean Shores Area Representative for a second time. The rest is history.
Now, back to my question. Could it be that Mr. Santiago “Santino” Castillo is still peeved by the sidestepping he received from his own UDP in 2015, when his very own UDP Mayor Darrell Bradley unseated him to run in the Caribbean Shores, only to lose the division by a thin margin to the PUP? What effect would Mr. Santino’s public endorsement of incumbent PUP Mayor Bernard Wagner have as he seeks a third term as Belize City Mayor this time around? History has a way of repeating itself.
Apolinar A. Tzul, M.Ed.
(AMANDALA Ed. Note: Ah, but brother Apolinar, there are some differences in the situations here. This incumbent mayor is still contesting at the municipal level; and Santino, a known winner, was NOT vocally in support of Bradley’s attempt at the generals, as he now is for Wagner to defend his City Council title.)