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From the Publisher

PublisherFrom the Publisher

As a follow-up to last Friday’s column, let it be emphasized that while the PUP’s Ralph Fonseca, who had been badly beaten in Queen’s Square in 1984, won by a huge margin in the new Belize Rural Central division in 1993, the irony of that Fonseca triumph was that the incumbent PUP lost the 1993 election by the narrowest of margins, even though they won by a 2,000-majority of popular votes nationwide. 

The PUP lost Collet by a single vote, and they lost Caribbean Shores by just 40 votes. The UDP won in seats: 16-13.

The UDP, which had entered a coalition with Philip Goldson’s NABR just before the 1993 election (Mr. Goldson had broken away from the UDP and formed NABR in 1991 in an effort to block the Maritime Areas Act, which had involved an unusual partnership between the PUP and the UDP), promised to cancel the Maritime Areas Act if the UDP/NABR coalition won. But they never kept that promise.

The newly empowered UDP came after me hard after they returned to power, because they blamed me and Kremandala, to a substantial extent, for their narrow 1989 defeat, and because they believed my organization had campaigned for the PUP in June 1993.

Yes, I endorsed the PUP’s Joe Coye in Caribbean Shores in 1993 because of my personal problem with Dr. Manuel Esquivel, the UDP leader, but apart from that, Kremandala did not campaign for the PUP (apart from running their ads) in 1993. It is important that this be noted for future scholars to know. Kremandala did not campaign for the PUP, because the PUP, after they returned to power in 1989, had almost immediately tried to wipe out the new KREM Radio.

KREM survived because of incredible roots support, but the privatization of Radio Belize/Friends FM by the PUP right after KREM came on the air was an attempt to strangle the baby in the crib. 

This became obvious, once the national government station, with all its equipment and resources, was privatized. Compared to Radio Belize, KREM was a very tiny voice in the wilderness. But its survival became a classic example of people power. 

After this treachery by a few PUP leaders with respect to KREM, I could not campaign for the PUP in 1993. It appeared to most observers that the PUP would win that general election easily. The PUP was heavily financed, and the UDP had been splintered by NABR to a harmful extent.

In the middle of that 1993 general election campaign, the UDP/NABR coalition made a desperate promise to provide free education and to give free land (house lots and farm lands) to the Belizean people if they voted for the UDP. The PUP was overconfident, and ignored these wild promises.

The question is: what were the Belizean people thinking when they voted UDP in 1993? The UDP victory was so astoundingly unexpected that the PUP tried to pay two UDP area representatives (Dangriga’s Chiste Garcia and Cayo North’s Salvador Fernandez) to cross the floor and change the 16-13 UDP win to a 15-14 PUP victory.

Another interesting question is: which was the foreign intelligence service which tipped off the new Prime Minister, Dr. Esquivel, to the PUP conspiracy? I don’t think (I may be wrong, of course) that Belize’s Special Branch was sophisticated enough to penetrate the PUP plot, a plot which ended with the PUP’s Harry Courtenay, Winston Smiling, and “Raindrops” Swan (all deceased), being arrested and charged for the Garcia/Fernandez conspiracy. (They were acquitted.)     

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