On the ground in Cayo North; By -Election two days away

Monday, January 5 is by- election day in Cayo North.

It has been a short campaign trail for the candidates since PUP’s area representative Joseph Mahmud stepped down in late November, and caused the by-elections to be placed in motion.

On Friday, Plus News was in Cayo North on the ground to visit both PUP and UDP camps, and talk with campaigners and standard bearers alike.

We caught up with the PUP camp for which it appears there is an uphill battle; the first indication being that PUP’s standard bearer, Richard Harrison seems to be on the ground without much national support from his party.

We caught up with him in Bullet Tree.

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vlcsnap-2015-01-03-07h55m12s153vlcsnap-2015-01-03-07h45m21s142Richard Harrison – PUP Candidate for Cayo North
“The people make me feel pretty calm. I think that there is a quite tide that is rising here. The people are pretty much very frustrated and upset with the way how the United Democratic Party Government has abandoned this Cayo North Division, because they voted for a PUP representative, and that is within the people, the people are feeling that and the sentiment is very strong.”

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Reporter
“However from a practical perspective, one might say indeed, okay, they abandoned, it was a PUP representative.  So why they would you vote for another PUP representative? It better you ride it out and at least maybe you can get some help, if your representative is in government.”

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Richard Harrison
“Well, they have been there for 8 years. The people already know what to expect. If you have seen somebody what they do for eight years, you can pretty much predict what they will do if they’re given some extra time.

They pretty much just come here this last month.  They have been scraping roads.  They have been doing a lot of little last minute things, giving out gifts. Then they’re packing up some envelopes right now for election day,  I understand two hundred dollars per envelope.”

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Louis Wade – Plus News
” I was at the campaign headquarters.  I saw about 100 people there. Clearly, they have a large team of people in both areas campaigning simultaneously. What is your street campaign like?”

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Richard Harrison
“We don’t have as big a crowd as they do, but we have our zones and all our people are working in their zones.  We’re sticking to our plan, and we are not playing t-shirt game.  We’re in this to win.

Our campaigners are out, both in Bullet Tree and in San Ignacio.  We are confident that how we will bring out our people on Monday, and we will deliver a victory.  We’re not worried about t-shirts and flags and all this kind of stuff.  We are worried more about getting our machinery ready, and getting our people in touch with the voters in the different zones, and making sure that how we deliver on Monday.  That’s our objective.”

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Reporter

“You’re predicting a victory, but your opponents are predicting a wipe-out.  How do you respond to that?”

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Richard Harrison

“Well, let’s see.  I know for a fact that how they have been pulling every stunt.  They have reduced the price of fuel, significantly.  They are promising teachers a raise.  They gave out loads of groceries over the Christmas. They are getting ready to dole out a lot of money on Election Day.

We know how their back is against the wall.  They have brought in all of their generals from all over the country.  We are here working with the people of Bullet Tree and San Ignacio.  We are working with the people.  We are not bringing anybody in from outside, and pouring in a lot of resources from all over the country and from the Government especially.  We don’t have any Government resources to use.  We are just using whatever contributions we have from our local support.”

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Louis Wade

“The Prime Minister is in the constituency. The Deputy Prime Minister, I understand, was assigned to Bullet Tree, because there are some land issue and so on. We see Boots Martinez is here. Where are your big guns? Where is the leader of the party? Where is the deputy leader?”

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Richard Harrison
“Right here, these guys and the ones who are in the zones. These are the big people in Cayo North. These are the people who will vote.

I’m doing what I can with the small resources that we have available, and the people see that how we are genuinely interested in developing their area where they live.  I think that this genuineness that they recognize is what’s going to deliver for us, because the people are not ready to eat for one day or two days with this ham and turkey business.  The people want long-term development.  They want jobs, stable jobs.  They know that how if I’m given the opportunity, that I have the genuine interest and the capability and capacity to deliver what they need for the long-term.” 

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Things were looking much brighter for UDP’s man, Omar Figuerroa when it comes to on the ground support.  In the red camp there were at least 150 to 200 persons on the ground inclusive of big names such as Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, and Hon. Anthony Boots Martinez.

Plus TV has been denied an interview with Mr Figuerroa, even though we have consistently asked for one.  However, our colleagues at channel 7 were graced with one, and so courtesy of channel 7, we bring you some of Omar Figuerroa’s thoughts on the campaign and upcoming election day.

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vlcsnap-2015-01-03-08h57m35s213vlcsnap-2015-01-03-07h45m58s4Omar Figuerroa – UDP Standard Bearer

It feels just the way it felt from day one. I can’t wait to get it over with and get to work for the people of Cayo North.

I’ve been talking to them for the past several months, not just for the past four weeks.  I am very humbled by the way the folks of Cayo North have opened their doors for me, the conversations we’ve had sitting down with them.  They’ve told me about their needs, their concerns, and we’ve had some excellent, excellent conversations. 

I really am looking forward to the opportunity to really get down and start to work for them.  I have no doubt about the outcome of this election on Monday.

There are different ways of looking at this election. Three out of the last 4 elections, Cayo North has voted blue. The last election the PUP won Cayo North. So I don’t think the pressure is on me. When the people want to vote for a certain person, it doesn’t matter what kind of resources are in the background, they know who they want to represent them,  and that’s what will guide them on election day.”

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Jules Vasquez
“Are you concerned that perhaps people will take it as a chance to lash out against a government, an incumbent, and whenever you are in office, right now it’s 7 years and people have this built up resentment against you, and that people may have issues with the government and choose to take it out on you.”

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Omar Figueroa
“Jules, you are making some assumptions that have no basis. There is no resentment out there. People have open up their doors for me. I have told you, I have sat down with them and talking to them and we will see the results on Monday. The results will answer a lot of your questions, Jules. I mean there is absolutely no resentment out there.

From when I won my convention I’ve been loving, we’ve been working, we’ve been trying to help folks in San Ignacio, and what I’ve always told people, this election is not about Omar Figueroa, it’s about Cayo North and what’s best for Cayo North and the people of Cayo North.  They know what’s best for them, and the election results on Monday will be loud and clear.

Of course there is always some level of unpredictability, but when you sit down with people in their homes and you have a coffee and you have dinner with them and you have a good rapport with them, I am not telling you that some people won’t probably mislead you, but I am confident about 95% of the folks we’ve visited.”

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Election day is set for Monday January 5, 2015.
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