Highlights — 06 February 2016 — by Rowland A. Parks
PUP leader John Briceño and his new National Executive sworn in

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Feb. 3, 2016–In the wake of the Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) convention on Sunday, January 31, this morning, the party’s headquarters at Independence Hall came alive with supporters and parliamentarians who gathered for a swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected PUP leader, Hon. John Briceño, and his team of national executives.

The new PUP executive is made up of four Deputy Leaders — Hon. Kareem Musa, for the East, Hon. Julius Espat for the West, Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai for the North and Hon. Rodwell Ferguson for the South.

There were no contested conventions for Musa and Espat, while Mai and Ferguson won their position in Sunday’s national convention, on Briceño’s slate. Mai defeated Hon. Florencio Marin Jr., the powerful area representative for Corozal South East, and Ferguson defeated Hon. Mike Espat, the area representative for Toledo West.

The post of National Campaign Manager is filled by Victor Espat, who was unchallenged at Sunday’s convention. Ramon Cervantes, Jr., is the new treasurer; he was also unchallenged for his post.

The PUP’s legal advisor is the attorney and senator Anthony Sylvestre, whose post was also unchallenged at the convention.

The National Communications Director is Anthony Mahler, who defeated Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, the former, area representative for the Belize Rural Central.

Henry Charles Usher, who had served as chairman during the Francis Fonseca era, faced a challenged for his post and managed to beat Toledo East area representative Hon. Oscar Requeña.

Chairman for the Order of Distinguished Service, former Minister Sam Waight, administered the oath of allegiance to Briceño and his new executive, following which Briceño addressed the gathering.

Briceño, area rep for Orange Walk Central, characterized Sunday’s PUP national convention as “a historic occasion.”

“No other organization in this country has the level and depth of democracy as the People’s United Party displayed on Sunday,” he said.

Briceño said that the campaign leading up to Sunday’s convention “gave all of us the opportunity to listen to our people and to reconnect with our supporters, to listen to the suffering that they are going through under this vindictive UDP government.”

Briceño stressed that the PUP is united and that he and his executive will not stop until there is a PUP government in place.

During the question-and-answer period, a member of the media questioned Briceño about the absence of the Hon. Cordel Hyde, Lake Independence area rep, from the swearing-in ceremony, and Briceño remarked that Hon. Hyde was not a member of the National Executive, but that he had met with him, yesterday, Tuesday.

Briceño added, “I have given him a commitment that we are going to find a space for him in the National Executive, and that is something that he has willingly accepted. We hope that he will be able to sit around the table with us as we come up with plans and policies for the People’s United Party.”

Briceño was also questioned about the PUP’s assets, which were a bone of contention when he was elected as party leader at the 2008 PUP National Convention when he first defeated the Hon. Francis Fonseca, the Freetown area representative, whom he beat at Sunday’s convention.

Briceño said that even before Sunday’s convention, he had met with the Hon. Said Musa, former Prime Minister and Fort George area rep, and that Musa had suggested that the assets be placed in a trust so that there could be no question about who are the rightful owners of the PUP’s assets – those rightful owners being, in truth, the supporters of the party.

On a question of financing for the operations of the party, Briceño said that he would have to sit down with the party treasurer, who will have to lead the charge to raise funds. Besides that, he said, there are 67,000 people who voted for the PUP, so funds will have to be raised from even among them, so that the PUP can be in the best fighting form to win elections.

“We are going to be united; we are the People’s United Party,” Briceño said.

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