The Belize Progressive Party, a coming together of now former members of three third parties, the People’s National Party, the Vision Inspired by the People and the We the People Movement of Corozal alongside some independent candidates, was unveiled this morning at the Belize Institute of Management in Belize City. The party is fielding, for now, 11 candidates, just two more than the number the parties together fielded in the 2012 General Elections. However, according to BPP Leader Patrick Rogers, by nomination day on October 16, they hope to have over 20 candidates. He says that the doors are open for persons interested in becoming BPP candidates. Party Chairman Paco Smith referred to the BPP as the vanguard of a new Belizean political consciousness and to its candidates as agents of change.
Paco Smith, Chairman. Belize Progressive Party: Your Belize Progressive Party is not here to replace the UDP nor PUP. Our purpose is to change the game. In effect no games shall be played for this party represents a new Belize political consciousness, in which governance is inclusive and not selective as it is currently practiced by the powers that be. I submit that our slogan 8867 today, 8867 tomorrow and 8867 forever is not only demonstrative of our commitment to ensuring Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity it is also our rallying call to all Belizeans and true friends of Belize irrespective of your where about to take the proverbial leap of faith and join us in this most noteworthy, meaningful and necessary effort to save the nation of Belize now, Before we lose it.
Among the 11 candidates is one female, Edna Diaz representing Corozal Southeast. The others are cañero Lucilo Teck for Corozal South West, Adan Palomo for Corozal North, Hipolito Bautista for Orange Walk South and Roy Rodriguez for Corozal Bay. There are two candidates for the Cayo District. They include Charles Leslie for Belmopan and Andrew Williams for Cayo South. In the Belize District, Robert “Bobby” Lopez will once more represent the Belize Rural South division, while Ion Cacho will run in Pickstock and Patrick Rogers will contest the Collet seat. Wil Maheia, deputy party leader, is the only candidate for the south, representing Toledo East. But with only 34 days to go before general elections on November 4th, can the BPP be a viable alternative to the traditional two mass parties? Party Leader Patrick Rogers says the people must be ready for change.
Patrick Rogers, Leader Progressive Party: The win when it comes, it won’t come for Patrick, it won’t be for brother Charles, brother Bobby, brother Will, it won’t be for any of the candidates, it wont be for any of the executive members who are not candidates. It will be a win for Belize, for the people of Belize. And for that to happen, you have to take ownership of this Belize Progressive Party. You invest money or you invest time. In business we call it sweat equity. So we will win when enough Belizeans understand they need to invest some sweat equity inna this new Belizean political consciousness. We will be going door to door. We wont have any money to go into our pocket and say hold yah. That is not how we operate. You will not be taking ownership of this party if we were doing that. Who would take ownership, is the oligarchy that would have given us had we accepted the half a million dollars. Because when the oligarchy the donate they willing fu give half a million dollars you know. But we are to explain that we’re not about forming a liberal party here Belize. We are not about forming a liberal party that would have gladly accepted half a million dollars from the oligarchy. We’re about forming a labour movement. So our ideology, our philosophy, is based on labour.
And while they are calling themselves a labor party, Rogers said the BPP has no union candidates even though some were approached while they believe other activists are not ready to leave activism yet. One of the central policies of the BPP, according to candidate Robert “Bobby” Lopez, is transparency in relation to campaign financing.
Robert “Bobby” Lopez, Belize Rural South Candidate, BPP: We have always published our campaign financing. We have always challenged both parties to do the same and up to today after 34years, we have not seen a budget for anyone of them. We have not seen a financial report for anyone of them. We don’t know where the money comes from. We don’t know how the money is spent but we know as the Prime Minister said, on February 26th 2008 when he was asked my Adelle Ramos, “Mister Prime Minister what are you going to do about campaign finance legislation?” And his very words were this! And you can look it up on the internet because I always do to remind me. “How can we stop the big boys from giving money under the table?” And I want to ask the Prime Minister, who is on the other side of the table taking the money because that’s the root of corruption. And that’s why we are here in this mess. The Belize Progressive Party will stop the big boys from taking money under the table because we will owe nobody no concession, no land, no tax free holiday.
In that vein, the BPP says they will need half a million dollars in campaign financing. That is to be divided into almost $14,000 of expenditure in each constituency. The Party called on 100 business people to donate $4,326 each in support. So far, the party has 15 thousand dollars to get its campaign going. The BPP says they will prepare their progressive plan or manifesto and are also willing to have an open convention to elect a final party leader. They explained that their party constitution has not been finalized. Of note is that some notable persons in established third parties are not a part of the BPP. We are told that the new members of the BPP simply resigned from existing third parties like the Belize Unity Alliance and the VIP leaving behind other candidates.