Gaspar Vega retains position as Deputy Leader of the UDP

vlcsnap-2013-02-18-20h39m05s233The ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) held its much anticipated national convention on Sunday in Corozal Town. The big news going into the convention was the race for first deputy leader between incumbent Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega of Orange Walk and party chairman and Education Minister Patrick Faber of Belize City. Vega carried the endorsement of Prime Minister and Party Leader Dean Barrow; but Faber had some “backative” of his own with endorsements from two past leaders Dean Lindo and Manuel Esquivel and a youthful corps of campaign workers eager to carry him to another victory. But it was not to be. Vega defeated Faber by 98 votes, 331 to 233, with 5 spoiled votes. In his acceptance speech, Vega paid tribute to Faber and credited the simple message of ‘unity’ as the reason why he triumphed.

GASPAR VEGA – Deputy Leaser UDP:
vlcsnap-2013-02-18-20h39m54s226I want to say thanks to my wife and kids, my brothers and sisters, to the Honourable Dean Oliver Barrow.  I want to give special thanks to my colleague the Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, for making the United Democratic Party prove to the people that we believe in democracy. And that we believe that we have to respect each other in order for us to grow from strength to strength.  Today what we live is something unpresidented.  It’s something that a lot of people thought could never occur.  But today we’re proving, especially [to] the PUP, that in the United Democratic Party, we believe in unity.

And according to the Prime Minister, Faber need not feel bad about his defeat. He praised both men in the opening of his keynote address.

DEAN BARROW – UDP Party Leader:
vlcsnap-2013-02-18-20h39m22s180I therefore wish to start by congratulating all those who vied for office this afternoon for the three positions that were contested, the position of Deputy Leader, the position of Chairman, and the position of Vice-Chairman.  I want in particular to say to the Minister of Education, you Sir continue to distinguish yourself.  You have always been a lion in victory, today you are gracious and magnanimous in defeat.

In the two other races for executive posts up for grabs on Sunday, Vega’s running mates on the ‘Team Unity’ platform also won, even more handsomely than Vega. New party chairman Alberto August of Cayo defeated Corozal’s Roosevelt Blades 379 to 183 with 5 votes spoilt and UDP Punta Gorda Town Councilor Fern Gutierrez defeated Belize City Councilor Roger Espejo 372 to 180 with 8 votes spoilt to become vice-chairwoman.

Speaking after Sundays UDP Convention, Hon Gaspar Vega said he had nothing against his younger colleague and insisted they could work together. Here is his assessment of the campaign.

Hon. Gaspar Vega:
It has not been an ugly campaign. It has been a very busy campaign. I think both of us had our different strategies. At the end of the day I think I was successful, maybe because my strategy works best.  I have always known that my strength is being able to get to know one another, and that’s what I use for this campaign.

Vega also dismissed suggestions that he had lost support in the North, or that the Prime Minister’s endorsement or a financial advantage had anything to do with his victory. He was also asked whether he would consider running for party leader should Barrow walk away anytime soon.

Hon. Gaspar Vega:
It’s difficult to tell who voted for or against, but I am certain that I got my fair share from the North, from the West, from the South, and from Central, which is Belize District. At the end of the day, I came out victorious.  I praise the Almighty God for giving me the opportunity one more time, and He knows what’s best for all of us. I can tell you that I spent a lot of energy, a lot of sweat, traveling throughout this country, from house to house, from delegate to delegate, and I believe that is why I came out with the victory.

According to the Prime Minister, fences will be mended, but he appeared exasperated when asked in light of his statements at the convention, who he would support between his powerful Ministers Vega and Faber if they ever went head to head.

Hon. Dean Barrow:
vlcsnap-2013-02-18-20h30m53s100What we saw this afternoon and the way he behaved was for real.  So, I am confident that we can move.

You said he was the future of the UDP. Obviously that future would have to wait a while. You just said that you are not in the retirement game. But, would you support Faber for leader of the UDP one day?

Hon. Dean Barrow:
Yes one day.

Is it clear whether Mr. Vega wants to also someday serve to be leader?

Hon. Dean Barrow:
Not yet.
But if you had to choose?

Hon. Dean Barrow:
Now you see…. no comment.

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