Clerk to the National Assembly Eddie Webster has today received the resignation of the Honorable Ivan Michael Ramos, area representative for Dangriga, as of this morning and it has been accepted by Speaker Michael Peyrefitte. Ramos becomes the third representative in 14 months to stand down from running for the People’s United Party (PUP) and second sitting representative to resign his seat after Joseph Mahmud in Cayo North last November. Here was the big announcement as made by Prime Minister and UDP Party Leader Dean Barrow in Belize City also made the announcement on Sunday afternoon at their endorsement convention in Caribbean Shores, which came just a few minutes after Ramos’ confirmation at his event in Dangriga.
“But I will tell you, the PUP are making it harder and harder for me to hold on. I am here to tell you that the Honorable Ivan Ramos, the PUP area representative for Dangriga just announce at his father’s day function sponsored by Petrocaribe that he is resigning his seat from the House and therefore tomorrow we will formally give you the timeline for the next bi-election in the constituency of Dangriga when the United Democratic Party will blow away the new candidate of the P.U.P. and cement this stranglehold almost that we are developing electorally in terms of the politics of this country, that will strike another blow, put an exclamation point behind this unstoppable U.D.P. march to its third term.”
Barrow went on to assail his political rivals for failing to care for their representatives, saying that if they could not do that then they could not possibly be ready for the big responsibility of Government. Today PUP Leader Francis Fonseca hit back, saying that the party did its best to ensure Ramos stayed on as a candidate but it was ultimately his decision, following the loss of support of his executive committee.
“In respect of Ivan Ramos, I can assure you of the same thing. Every effort, even the decision and I stand by this, and I want to make this very clear, The decision to step aside as the standard bearer was a decision made by him. The day before we had the meeting here, he was at my home, in my living room sitting with me. I said Ivan, it is up to you, this is your decision. You have the opportunity now , what everyone wants to see from you now is a commitment to winning, That you have the fire in the belly and that you want to win and that you are prepared to fight. He said to me ‘I just don’t have it any more.’ This is the reality, We can get into the back and forth. Since the briefing here where Mr. Sabal was introduced, we have been in touch with not only me but with our Campaign manager’s team, the Southern Caucus over the weekend and I am satisfied.”
Fonseca was speaking at a press conference called on short notice at the PUP headquarters, Independence Hall. He reported that the party would meet in its national executive and standard bearers configuration tomorrow, Tuesday, to discuss the Ramos resignation. But what ultimately caused Ramos to leave? Fonseca says he was certainly seduced and tempted by the lure of the Petrocaribe dollars, though he cannot confirm if he got more than the $25,000 slated for Mother’s/Father’s Day cheer.
“What are we attacking? I made a very clear statement today that we are disappointed with his decision and we are concerned with the rampant speculation surrounding that decision. I think that is absolutely fair and I think we have an obligation to be concerned when our people in Dangriga, the very people who elected him, who voted for him, are expressing those concerns to us…when they are concerned that there have been high level meetings between the U.D.P. and agents of his. They are concerned. Why should we not be concerned about that Mike? The reference to PetroCaribe monies, my friend, has to do with the fact that he has taken PetroCaribe monies against the absolute position, the firm position of the party. You know that. They have announced it. The government put out a relase about him taking PetroCaribe monies…Twenty Five Thousand in PetroCaribe money. If you want to be cynical, you can say he made his announcement to resign at a UDP sponsored event in Dangriga. ”
Fonseca would not comment on a reported email communication with standard bearers also referred to by Barrow in his address, in which reports that Ramos received $250,000 to step down after meetings with agents of the UDP. He emphasized that these were only allegations which had to be investigated by the party.