BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 29, 2020– From their first press release on September 30, the RSV Media Limited (Love FM/TV), Galen University and Belize Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI), organizers who announced the holding of the first ever Belize Prime Ministerial Debate 2020, were lacking one important ingredient – a guarantee from the two major political parties that they would be participating.
Like in “Straighten up and fly right,” the idea first appeared very touching and exciting to Belizeans, already teased with the U.S. Presidential debates, but it did sound a bit questionable from the start, although the Belize debate organizers said from the launch of their promotional campaign, that there were some “positive responses.”
It was a given that the up-and-coming third parties, Belize Progressive Party (BPP) and Belize People’s Front (BPF), would be represented by their respective leaders, Patrick Rogers and Nefretery Nancy Marin, as they both had long been sending challenges to the other major parties for a public clash of ideas.
But with both the UDP and PUP going full steam ahead with their manifesto promotions on various radio and TV stations, what could they hope to gain by engaging the small third parties at this time, and on Love TV and Love Facebook page only?
The organizers must share some blame for the failure to land the PUP leader, Johnny Briceño, and the UDP leader, Patrick Faber, for the scheduled debate last night, October 28. With the stringent rules and time limitations for answers to be imposed by the proposed moderator, some pre-debate day discussions and negotiations was expected between the representatives of the different camps and the organizers, but apparently, this was not done, or at least, not to the satisfaction of at least one party, the PUP, whose release claimed that their letter requesting a discussion/meeting went unanswered.
Early on, Patrick Faber of the UDP indicated that he would participate, but when it became clear that the PUP’s Johnny Briceño would not be present, Patrick also declined.
So, the “main event” last night turned out to be a much scaled-down affair, featuring the leaders of the two third parties whose chances at actually becoming the next Prime Minister are considered “none at all.”
Nevertheless, both Patrick Rogers of the BPP and Nefretery Marin of the BPF made good use of the opportunity to demonstrate their leadership composure and convictions, and present their respective party’s position on a number of issues. It is surprising, and disappointing, that the organizers did not manage to effect an increase in their answering time given, since it was only two leaders presenting.
What is noteworthy, despite the apparent “flop” of the night’s event for viewers, is that, since a lot of effort was clearly invested in the television production for marketing on Facebook, it could still turn out to be a worthwhile financial venture for the organizers, with the many advertisement spots taken.
What happened last night will have to go down as a learning experience, and which could in the future lead to a solid platform where Belizeans can expect to see more prospective political candidates for local and national elections engaging each other in an organized debate setting.