It has not been a good year for the People’s United Party, undeniably so. They lost two consecutive by- elections by huge margins, suffered a blow out defeat at the municipal elections and have been faced with discontent within members of the party. With elections in the near future, the party obviously has a lot of work to do. This past weekend, in an effort at harnessing strength and regaining some momentum, the opposition held a rally they called the “Power to the People” Rally. The rally started on Sunday with a motorcade departing from Esperanza Village at 2:30 pm travelling up to the George Price highway through Santa Elena and then culminating at the Theodocio Ochoa Park in San Ignacio. There, the 12 hundred or so participants of the rally congregated to listen and discuss topics including saying no to the ICJ; supporting the construction of the Forward Operating Base on the Sarstoon island and the PUP’s plan for reform. The leader of the party, Hon. Francis Fonseca, delivered the key note address.
” I think a lot of our people understand – I think as a travel across this country, a lot of our people understand that we need to get rid of this UDP government, they understand that the UDP is bad for Belize. What they want to see and what they are expecting and demanding from us in the People’s United Party, is exactly what we are here today to do. To present to the people our plan, our vision for the development of Belize and to hear from our people. That is very important. It is very important for those people who supported the People’s United Party in the past but for different reasons, have stayed away from the party. It is important for them to begin listening to the message of the PUP, to understand that we have an agenda for change and reform. We are not saying that everything is fine and we are going back to what we were. We have to move forward. We have to evolve and change as a party. The People’s United Party between 1998 and 2008 did many wonderful and great things for this country and we should never forget that. We should be proud of our party, infact, the People’s United Party – Don Hector is here and he can tell you, because he was there from the beginning, that it was our great party that has been at the forefront of every major development in this country.”
And while the PUP saw some respectable numbers attend the rally on Sunday, between12 hundred to 15 hundred people we are told, the burning issue remains the PUP G10, as they are now being referred to, who boldly stepped up to their leaders and demanded change within the party. Interestingly, majority of the rebellious g 10 were not present at the rally this past weekend. Dan Silva, the PUP Standard Bearer for Cayo Central however was there. He was the one that allegedly leaked to the media a petition signed by 14 PUP standard bearers and forwarded to party chairman and the party leader where they called for an urgent national convention among other things. Dan Silva Spoke to the media at the convention.
“Well, we have gotten a letter from the chairman. We are analyzing that letter and then we’ll decide what we’ll do. But now we will be sticking to the points that we have asked for: we want a convention, we want to discuss the issues that our people are talking about, our party needs to discuss issues and we need to restructure our party. This would give our party a wonderful time for our leader to make the changes that he should be making. I don’t vew it as anything major, it is like a family. We have our little quarrels but they are some things that we agree on like today. This is a rally.
“It appears that they have not given you the spirit that you are asking for. They give you a convention yes, but Mr. Francis Fonseca’s seat is uncontested. So you cannot challenge him no matter what. You have raised this issue. What do you make of that?”
Dan Silva – PUP Standard Bearer, Cayo Central
“Well like I said, they have written us a letter which we have not seen. We will analyze it this week and see what we do”
“You all are asking for change. The Deputy Leader Mr. Espat had said ‘you know what if you are asking for something, then you need to come out and consult with them – have discussions.’ We notice that this core group has boycotted two meetings and I noticed that the main core of them are not here today. Could I get a response?”
“Like I said I was involved in the organizing of this one, so I have no problem being out here today. We are PUPs. We want to change the government. We have our own ideas but we want to see more people participation.”
“Do you see a time in the near future where the core 12,11,10, whatever, actually meets with the people who are in the executive to discuss actively a chart for change?”
“That is what we hope will happen. We are willing to discuss anytime. We are not here to destroy anything, we want to make it better.”
Deputy party leader Julius Espat also spoke about the matter chalking it down to family problems.
“If you are going to be able to form the next government, you have to show the unity. A third of the standard bearers being missing – that’s a…”
“ I don’t believe in false unity. I don’t believe on going on a stage and say I have your back and then I stab you when you walk down. I believe in real unity and the people of Belize are aware every single person in Belize that forms a family understand that it is not a mascara situation. They have problems. Every single family member – every person and so they will relate to us because they understand. But at the end of the day when the bell is rung, everybody will be in their different divisions and we will form government. It is our responsibility to deal with this.”