The next election of any kind is more than a year away. But in Belize, electioneering never truly takes a break. Having come close in last year’s general election, the People’s United Party (PUP) has been heavily recruiting for its next batch of candidates. Here’s a report on that.
With the welcomings of Patrick Andrews and Nancy Marin to the fold in the Cayo area, the PUP are preparing to challenge two UDP incumbents John Saldivar and Elvin Penner, both with slim victory margins last time around. Two other political hopefuls seeking nomination are businessman Luke Espat and former Lake Independence area representative Cordel Hyde. Espat, former owner of the Port of Belize Limited and a top executive and financier, this weekend told a group of committee leaders of the PUP in Santa Elena Town, seat of the Cayo Central division, that he is throwing his hat in the ring there. Espat claims to have done widespread consultations including with incumbent caretaker and Senator Collet Montejo, who lost the division by 44 votes to two-term incumbent Rene Montero, but PUP leader Francis Fonseca said on local media Monday that he will have to subject himself to the same process as other potential candidates and emphasized that he has not been endorsed by any senior PUP executive including himself, Fosneca. Fonseca noted that the National Executive of the PUP has opened the floor for conventions for standard bearers for the next election as of this month, up to August of next year and there is a strict vetting process for candidates. Another potential hopeful is Cordel Hyde, who declined to run for a fourth consecutive term in 2012 in order to care for his sick son, who died later in the year. His sudden departure coupled with that of Albert area representative and now Ambassador for Economic Affairs Mark Espat was widely believed to be the cause of the PUP’s downfall at the polls. But Fonseca has said he has been in discussions with Hyde and they have a “good relationship” and that he is “keen and enthusiastic” about working with the party. The PUP were unable to run their chosen candidate, Yolanda Schakron, in 2012 because of problems with her nationality and Martin Galvez was narrowly beaten by the UDP’s Mark King, with key votes going to former representative and independent Carlos Diaz. . Before the last election several would-be PUP candidates ran afoul of the screening and lost their chance to run.
The PUP was last in government between 2003 and 2008.