The Arthur Saldivar situation with the Peoples United Party (PUP) is threatening to start over with another member of the PUP. The Belize Rural Central convention was set to occur in September. Rene Skeen and Chris Coye had both expressed interest in the area and Skeen said he started his campaign from December, 2017 and claims as soon as the Party began to accept nominations in March, he was the first person to apply. In addition to visiting about 90 percent of Belize Rural Central, Skeen says he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his campaign. After Chris Coye stepped aside, that’s when Skeen felt the full weight of the Party, which rejected his candidacy late yesterday evening. The Party will now install Dolores Balderamos Garcia as its hand-picked candidate Belize Rural Central. Love News Spoke to Skeen who says Rural Central will reject Balderamos Garcia.
Rene Skeen, Political Aspirant: “The sad thing is after Chris Coye stepped down Dolores Balderamos stepped up. She called me and asked me to step aside and support her, this was the Sunday of the Agriculture show she called me while I was in Belmopan and without trying to be rude to her I asked her “What are you thinking? Why would I want to step down? You’ve been there before you lost.”
Reporter: She also ran in Belize City.
Rene Skeen, Political Aspirant: “She ran in Port Loyola, won that division, lost the other election, went to Belize Rural Central won in Belize Rural Central and lost the other one- now that says something.”
Reporter: She’s good as a candidate but not necessarily as a winner in an election.
Rene Skeen, Political Aspirant: “I’m not trying to be funny here but at this point she’s not good as a candidate as far as I’m concerned because my campaign in Belize Rural Central tells me that the people will reject her that is point black. Yesterday I had been communicating with the Party Chairman Mr.Henry Charles Usher. He said ‘I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the Party met today and voted that they would prefer to have a woman to represent the People’s United Party in Belize Rural Central. Although I have no problem with that, I have no problem with a woman fighting for power and I believe in women’s rights but I believe the right person. If you want to run in politics do like everybody else. They won or they lost and they accepted. If Dolores runs in this convention it should be next Sunday and defeat me, I will support her 100% across the board. If the other women in the PUP decided to run and took their loss why can’t she do it? Why would the party ‘all of a sudden’ oh we want a woman.”
Reporter: Now the party has rules. Will you do what Arthur Saldivar did and apply to the courts to seek an injunction ?
Rene Skeen, Political Aspirant: “I haven’t thought about it, right now I’m thinkin about the people of Belize Rural Central, I haven’t thought about any legalities, I don’t know what I’m going to do but I need for the people of Belize Rural Central to know that I am not neglecting them I wanted to represent them.”
Reporter: You said wanted does it mean then that you have given up ? You have today and tomorrow to apply to the courts.
Rene Skeen, Political Aspirant: “Well as I’ve said I don’t know what I’m going to do. At this point I will meet with my team a little bit later today and we will discuss what needs to be discussed maybe you could ask me this question tomorrow I don’t know as yet concerning the legalities. But concerning Belize Rural Central I don’t want them to think that I am stepping aside or rumors had it that I was paid off. The People’s United Party couldn’t give me a million or a billion dollars to step aside.”
Reporter: Do you, even though with this occurring do you still love this party? Would you say that perhaps there is preference for the old guard ? For the older names of the party?
Rene Skeen, Political Aspirant: “You ask me if I still love the party? You know what like I told Mr.Henry Charles yesterday I feel like I just went through a divorce. I felt like the People’s United Party divorced me and concerning the love for the party I have love for the people, the people come first before my party.”
Reporter: Would you run as an independent candidate?
Rene Skeen, Political Aspirant: “Again all kinds of things have been thrown out to me. I don’t know.”
We reached out to the PUP Chairman, Henry Usher to comment on the fluid situation with Skeen. Usher who spoke to Love News by phone, said that the vetting committee recommended Dolores Balderamos Garcia to the PUP Executive which accepted the nomination to have her installed as the Party candidate next weekend. Usher said he understands that Skeen felt hurt, but he feels it’s time to move forward.
Henry Charles Usher, PUP Chairman: ” In the Instance of Belize Rural Central, the vetting committee recommended that Mrs.Dolores Balderamos Garcia be endorsed in Belize Rural Central. The vetting committee sent that recommendation to the National Executive yesterday and it was accepted.”
Reporter: But isn’t it typically that you would have a contested convention, I’m not sure but isn’t that the way your party normally does it ? The candidates get a chance to go up against each other ?
Henry Charles Usher, PUP Chairman: “Like I just said. It’s a case by case basis in each constituency and the vetting committee makes that recommendation to the National Executive if the National Executive feels otherwise they can always override the decision or recommendation of the vetting committee but in this instance the recommendation to endorse Dolores Balderamos Garcia was accepted by the National Executive.”
Reporter: Do you foresee perhaps similar to the Arthur Saldivar situation that Mr.Skeen may simply say that he could apply to the courts for an injunction or he could also try to run as an independent candidate which would also take away votes from the party.
Henry Charles Usher, PUP Chairman: “Well I wouldn’t be able to say what Mr.Skeen would so that is a question for him. I know I had a meeting with him yesterday afternoon. We had a very open and frank discussion and we ended on a good note so I don’t expect any but I can’t answer for him.”
Reporter: He seemed very hurt as he described it as feeling as if we was being divorced by the PUP.
Henry Charles Usher, PUP Chairman: “I think it’s natural to feel a little bit angry, I don’t imagine it’s an easy thing to hear but like I said we had a very open discussion and we left on a good note and I hope that we will continue to work together. I expressed my pleasure in working with him and my hope that we can continue to work together for the benefit of the people of the country and Belize Rural Central and he expressed the same sentiment that he wants to serve the people.”
While on the phone with Usher, Love News asked him about this Sunday’s convention in Belmopan and he did not say if Arthur Saldivar will be allowed to participate in that convention.