Last week saw the launch of the Belize Progressive Party (BPP), an amalgamation of two smaller political parties and former members of a third. They introduced their first eleven candidates to contest the 2015 general elections. Today they announced the addition of seven more. They are housewife and mother of six Elizabeth Dena for Freetown; Dr. Jose Luis Espat for Albert; educator Milton Palacio for Stann Creek West; Estevan Assi for Toledo West; dock worker Raymond Rivers for Collet; Onofre Vellos for Orange Walk North; and Gary Matus for Queen’s Square. The candidates presented themselves today at the Belize Institute of Management, pledging to declare their income and assets in accordance with the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act. Each spoke of the need for change and to eliminate corruption in Belizean politics, but some already have big plans for after the election. One of them is Rivers, who spoke of arming the people of his division with skills to make them the envy of the rest of the nation.
Raymond Rivers BPP Aspirant, Collet: In Collet, people, listen to what I will bring. In Collet I will bring a sewing factory. The BPP, we will bring a sewing factory in the Collet division, employing over 800 women, and these women will sew for the government, we don’t have to pay no $227,000 for no uniform. We will sew for the sports that is coming, because we have a 10 years plan for sports to send kids to Olympics, NBA, NFL, golfing and we will do it with the South Side Youths. We will end the gang rivalry and we will start sports rivalry, and with that people of Collet don’t worry about no free education, I will bring that to you and we will bring it and we in the community will work and bring it for you. Don’t worry about no free food, we will teach you how to plant food. Don’t worry about no free gifts and parties, we BPP and I stress WE WE WE, at the stroke of your pen on Nov 4th, we need to get rid of these elites on top of this pyramid and put them at the bottom.
According to BPP National Campaign Manager and candidate for Belize Rural South, Bobby Lopez, the party actually has as many as 23 candidates, however only 18 have publicly declared their candidacies and the remainder are expected to declare themselves publicly in the next week. Candidate Elizabeth Dena of Freetown says she entered politics because she wanted to show that change is possible if people have had enough.
Elizabeth Dena, BPP Aspirant, Freetown: The thing is that as women, we wear our children. We have the father who aren’t in the homes. Well this is the time to start step up because while Mr. Lopez have me here talking about women, to be honest with you, I am on a different level with that. I am on more the youths because they are the one coming behind us. Now as mothers in the house you do what you are suppose to do with your children them. Everybody have a part fu play in this thing. Every single body. The crack head who you laugh at, the homeless man who you pass and not even see, everybody have apart fu play. Now da time fu mek we stop play game, I neem like when people she politics da wah game, caz my life da nuh wah game, my picni life isn’t a game. When we want play game, we play scrabble and snake and ladder, my life da no game.
The party’s political leader, Patrick Rogers, is now running in the Pickstock division after announced aspirant Ian Cacho stepped aside. He said in response to a question from PLUS News that he erred in deciding to step aside for Cacho last week, but that the matter has been resolved and the party has its strongest candidate now in place.
Patrick Rogers, Political Leader, BPP : And so I went back to the gentleman Mr. Ian Cacho, who is a very humble brother as you all can attest to. And Ian said, “Pat, it’s yours, it’s just that we were short of candidates” and he prefers to help me in PickStock instead of picking up another division, so that is the honest answer to your question Mr. Humes. We were trying to do good and I made an error, and we as Bobby said, as Bobby said we don’t have a problem with making mistakes. We’re learning as we go along. Mistakes are learning tools.
Rogers also told us he supports COLA’s plans to campaign against Wilfred Elrington in Pickstock to ensure that he is not re-elected. As for the BPP’s plans following the general elections, Rogers says that the party is not going to fold up after November 4 if things do not go their way. They want to establish a foothold across the country in anticipation of future campaigns.
Patrick Rogers, Political Leader, BPP: Thank you for that question, It gives me an opportunity to say that immediately come Nov 5th, there’s some village council elections coming up Belize, and you know 55 percent of our population is rural, so there is already tremendous support in the rural communities they’re exist independent village council as we’re speaking right now. So the green machine is here to roll out Nov 5th and start making a tremendous push by taking control of some of those village council heading up to the municipal elections until the next general election. But Mr. Humes, the belief that some of us will win is there so we are working to make that happen Belize.
Later on we will tell you about the BPP’s adventures in political campaign financing and their plans for reform