BELIZE CITY, Fri. June 25, 2021– The notable silence of the embattled leader of the United Democratic Party, Hon. Patrick Faber, who made no official statements when those within his party activated processes to oust him from his role as UDP leader, ended today when he formally addressed the media and the public. Hon. Faber made his first official remarks about the efforts to unseat him, and the very real prospect that he will soon not be the leader of the UDP, at an extended press conference, during which he portrayed himself as unbowed and declared his complete fealty to the party. He stated that despite the battles he will face in the months ahead, he will, whatever the outcome, remain a loyal “thoroughbred” of the UDP.
For weeks Hon. Faber had endured a barrage of criticism from the public and from those within his party, which was sparked by the online circulation of a video which put on public display a domestic dispute involving Faber and the mother of one of his children.
In his remarks to the media, he conceded that he has a personal behavioral flaw, which he insisted is triggered only by certain persons. He informed the public that he has been actively seeking “help” to address that personal problem, but declared that it has no bearing on his ability to lead his party.
Hon. Faber then made reference to a recall petition, which, he confirmed, had successfully triggered an official process that could result in his being removed from his post as UDP leader, as well as to the deft parliamentary moves that have placed the rookie area rep, Hon. Shyne Barrow, in Faber’s seat as Leader of the Opposition.
“The recall mechanism has been triggered, so the party is in the process of finalizing a date and other details for those delegates to vote on whether they wish for me to remain party leader,” Faber said.
With no date yet set for the convention at which those votes will be cast, Faber is now tasked with the campaign of his lifetime, to win back the support and confidence of the base of the UDP. He will have to convince two-thirds of his party’s delegates to support his leadership of the UDP and reject the recall petition.
As it stands, reports are that around 290 UDP delegates from varying constituencies signed on to the recall petition, and thus Faber’s adversaries need only convince another 10 delegates to support their motion. to deliver the final blow to Faber at the convention.
He indicated at his press conference, however, that even if he is unable to retain his post as UDP leader, he will continue to serve his party. “If by some reason I am recalled, I will most humbly and respectfully step aside. After all, I am a UDP, and all the people who are saying start your own party and so on — rubbish that. I am a UDP; there is no way no how that I will depart from this party. So I will remain a UDP and I will have my chance, if that is the case, to get up to dust myself off and go at it again,” said Faber.
He added, “So they can’t do me nothing, nobody in this party can’t do me, that I will hate to that extent that some of them are now displaying, and that I will try to break up the party as a result of that. You have always seen me very graceful when I am defeated.”
In his address to the media, Faber went on the offensive at times. He stated that while his foes pointed to his behavior in domestic incidents as the reason for their attacks, their ulterior motives stem from their dislike of Faber’s new vision for the party — a vision which he said would require purging the party of any traces of corruption or underhanded dealings.
Three parliamentarians signed a letter that was sent to the Governor General, H.E. Froyla Tzalam in order to unseat Hon. Faber as Leader of the Opposition. Two of those parliamentarians are close relatives of former Prime Minister, Hon Dean Barrow, and have been classified as members of the “Barrow faction” — Hon. Shyne Barrow (son of the former prime minister), and his aunt, area representative for Queen’s Square, Denise “Sister B” Barrow. The third parliamentarian who signed the letter is the deputy leader of the UDP, Hon. Hugo Patt.
It was the signature of that third UDP member of the House that was the source of the most disappointment, Hon. Faber said. He shared at the press conference that in a conversation with Patt on Wednesday night, he was informed by the area representative for Corozal North that delegates from his constituency had forced his hand to sign the recall, even though personally the move was not something ideal for him (Patt).
Faber said that he was saddened by the knowledge of this, but he acknowledged that his ousting from leadership in the House is allowed by the Constitution.
And while he was saddened by Patt’s decision, Faber apparently felt a different sort of sentiment about what he considered the sudden interest in party affairs by UDP area representative Denise Barrow. He alleged that she has been holding the party at ransom, threatening to resign and thus trigger a by-election if forced to attend parliamentary sessions. The Queen’s Square representative has not been in attendance at any recent House meetings and has not made any public statements or any comments in the House regarding national affairs or parliamentary matters since her election.
“I will say here that I hope that with the same kind of interest that Sista B signed that petition that she turns up in the House,” Faber said.
Faber further remarked, “I work for the masses of this party, I don’t work for 3 individuals, and leadership will be natural, so one could have the title, but you will see who leads in the House — you will see it very clearly. Unless there will be a change in Sista B’s ability to throw her gauntlet down with the government. Anyway, I promised to be nice. Scratch that from the record, please.”
(Hon. Denise Barrow, because she is the sister of former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow and has been a staunch member of the power structure of the old UDP guard, has become an easy target for criticism from the current PUP government.)
Faber further suggested that the placement of the powers of the Leader of the Opposition in the hands of Hon. Shyne Barrow could have unexpected, and possibly dire, results — and he referenced an effort by the new Opposition leader, which Faber said is currently underway, to replace newly appointed Senator Khalid Belisle in the Senate. Faber implied that this is a sign of things to come —one that, in his view, does not bode well.
Faber shared that while the burden of having his colleagues “stab [him] in the back” is much to bear, he has been receiving a constant stream of messages from party supporters who are pressing him to stay at the forefront of the party.
Faber revealed that the faction leading the charge against him, Caucus for Change, has its roots in the 1990s, when there was an attempt to seize power from former UDP maximum leader, Hon. Dean Barrow. Incidentally, the point person of the movement at the time was now estranged former UDP Minister John Saldivar — who was Faber’s main rival in the quest for leadership of the UDP prior to Faber’s victory at the most recent UDP national convention, held in 2020, and who is said to be the mastermind behind the UDP Caucus for Change.
“Caucus for Change originated back in the 1990s, I’d say, headed by the same John Saldivar trying to form a coup to depose the Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow. Strange how politics makes for strange bedfellows now,” said Hon. Faber.
He made a call to the delegates of his party, a call that he will have to echo over the coming months to the base of his party: that he is a tried and tested leader, a five-time elected official, and the most experienced Opposition member in parliament. He said that, in comparison with the current alternative, the choice is clear.
“Is it not easier for you to put up a 5-time champion who in fact is exemplary in the parliament?” Faber said.