To ‘reform’ means to change something and make it better. It, most times refer to social, political or economic institutions. The People’s United Party has been speaking of reform time and time again particularly since the blue and white camp lost its popularity in 2008 following numerous scandals of financial mismanagement and perceived corruption. In order to make its mark at the election polls again, the opposition will have to reform internally; an advice that was rendered to the leadership some months ago by their very own Cayo South Representative, Julius Espat. In speaking with Espat last week, he says that reform is underway.
“If we want to reform government we have to reform ourselves and if we as the People’s United Party are sure that we are going to form government, which is what most people believe then we have to reform internally also that is my point of view and my position. The leadership of the party is made up of people that were there and now we are having people like myself that have never been there so you will never have us thinking exactly the same. The ones that were there definitely like the way they were doing it and have a tendency of not wanting to change at times and the ones like us we see it with a different light. In my case and in many other cases we were not mentored as politicians we come from a different arena, in my case the professional arena so sometimes the leadership says and thinks that I’m a little bit too open minded and I talk too much and too passionate, I think that’s what you need in politics right now that is just my view. Since those comments were made on various media stations by myself we did get some negative reaction, minimally from the hardcore ones that don’t want change I expected that, we got a little bit of resistance from the leadership because nobody likes you to tell them that we are not doing this correctly but in all honesty I have felt and seen that the direction is changing. I have seen that they are going in a direction that I think is more positive now in my point of view. We will never agree 100%, if that happens then better I resign because I believe that politics is like family you have to have differences of opinion so that you can better the stew; that is what I believe is what politics should be. The old style of politics will not work in the future it doesn’t matter who says so it will not work even if you form government you will suffer, you have to listen to what people want. People want transparency, people want to know that you are true. The People’s United Party is going through a reform, it is not perfect but we have to do it, we have to show the people that we are true and that its not a farce in order to win. You see you have two styles, the ones that were there before believe that people have already made up their minds that UDP are out and we will make it and just sit down in the back chair and roll with it and I don’t believe in that because my fear is not reaching, I know we will reach my fear is how will we govern? Because I am about governance and not power.”
Espat says that being outspoken and honest with the leadership is very essential in order to make reform work.
“We have to have a conscience. I am not saying that I am the conscience of the party but I believe we have to have more people that can be that conscience and I believe the only way to do it would be to be vocal. You have to have a voice. Why do you think I work well in Cayo South? Because I take my job seriously. I believe I am the voice of the voiceless that come from Cayo South and I believe other young politicians from all sectors of society have to have what it takes to stand up and speak the truth. The problem that happens is that people are very selfish and so they only react when it pertains to them and I believe we have to change our selfish mode and look out for the betterment of all. Even in capitalism I’m telling people if you make so much money and the divide between the rich and the poor becomes so much then the poor becomes envious and they are hurting so much they will destroy you, they will eat you up so there has to be a formula even in the capitalist system where there is equity; you have to employ people but give them respect, fair wages, the same thing applies to the People’s United Party. We do have a situation where we have the ones that were there as the status quo and we have the other ones that want change I believe the ones that want change need to be more vocal. I’m not afraid of Dean Barrow so why should I be afraid of my leader. I respect my leader and because I respect him I think that for him to be a good leader he has to listen to people to tell him the truth.”
Describing the old supporters as vultures for the most part, Espat says that their style of doing politics is no longer applicable and the younger groups that long for change has to keep the leadership on its toes.
“We need to know what the people think, just like in politics the People’s United Party, the old time politicians need to hit the ground and listen. Go to the market and listen to what the people are thinking and you are reflecting what a large part of the voting population is thinking and that’s what the party at times gets mad with me for but they shouldn’t get mad with me because a party cannot win alone by its base, and most politicians that don’t study governance don’t understand that. The base of your party is your core but that core will never have you win, that core gives you support, it’s like the root, it might be the trunk but you need the fringes to come in for you to cross the finish line. In Cayo South I have a large portion of the population that is United Democratic Party supporters that vote for me, it is a fact we know it and they know it; and they vote for me because I am a PUP they vote for me because they like the leadership style, because I spend time with them, because I don’t treat them any less than anybody else, I don’t treat them differently than a PUP. Even though they know when election time comes we draw the line and ask if we are with them or not, the ones that say no they go on the red I respect that; the ones that are on the blue but can’t show their colors because of their work I respect that too; there is respect. So if the People’s United Party believes that we will form government which I agree with most people then we have to invite everybody. Renee, I know you’re not happy and we have to come to you and hug you and ask you to please understand we have made mistakes in the past but this is what we are trying to do, what is your opinion how would you like to participate and you will have the ones, we call them vultures, I won’t put names but there are a lot of vultures; the UDP has them and we have them but vultures are also good. If you notice if you don’t have scavengers on the highway you have a problem so you do have to have vultures in your groups that is part of what it is, it is when you give prominence to the vultures and not to the main people that is when you have a problem. Our mission is to include all including the vultures but they won’t have prominence because people that are coming in have to be vocal. We have to stand up for ourselves and we have to say what we believe is right and wrong but I see the leadership going in the direction of reform, not at the pace that I would like it but I’m happy that at least they are considering it and I believe that is step in the right direction.”
Espat was speaking one on one with Love News last Friday. We will have more from his interview throughout the course of this week.