With John Briceno now taking over control of the People’s United Party, much is being expected but the main thing that the supporters are hoping for is unity. During the course of yesterday evening when it was clear that the Briceno slate was in the lead, we spoke to some of the candidates on the way forward.
“Conventions are good. It is part of the PUP process and now what we need to do is tell everybody that the elections are over, let’s put our differences aside, let’s think about our people, our supporters, about our soldiers and lets think about Belize. The UDP has been taking this country in the wrong direction and only the PUP can make it right. And it is in their interest just like mine for us to unite and work hard and win the next election.”
“This has been a very humbling experience. Now I am Belize City based and I have had to campaign in villages all across this country and so we’ve sat in homes, in areas that I’ve never visited in a long time and people are saying that they are willing to work. They want to get back the People’s United Party to government and that starts pretty much in a couple of months with the Village Council Elections. We’re going to put in our work.”
“It’s been a campaign that I’ve gone around countrywide, met all of the delegates, PUP delegates. I always love meeting PUPs. I have to first of all thank God for this victory, thank my family and all of my supporters; my mom was here from the beginning of the polls until the end she was here working very hard. I couldn’t have done it without her. I have to thank my opponent. I think he put up a good fight. I think that we have to get united and today the party showed strength and we have to go from here with a position of strength and that’s what we are going to do. The work begins tomorrow.”
“I’ve always considered Florencio to be a giant in the political arena. He’s my friend, he’s my colleague but his father was a great politician. He is also a great politician so I never thought it would have been an easy fight. I’ve always been a friend of the Marin’s. His father is still a great friend to me. I hold him to high esteem. Florencio is my colleague, he is my friend and I love him a lot and he knows this. We spoke about this before this convention and we said to each other whoever wins we will support in the best interest of the party, in the best interest of the country. You know and I know, this country only moves forward under the PUP.”
Although the chorus surrounds unity, there are questions as to whether the unity will come easy or will John Briceno has tremendous challenges ahead. Briceno, however, has committed to be more decisive and firm in mending fences and coming together.
“There is one difference this time. I am going to reach out but if after a while I see people that are still attempting to undermine the party, it’s time for those people to leave. I am not going to do it alone, I don’t have that power under the constitution but I am going to call a national party council meeting for us to decide that and if we have to have a national convention we are going to do that but we cannot continue to undermine one another, we need to work together. We need to think about our people, we need to think about this country.”
The next coming weeks will be interesting as the support for Briceno will not be automatic as indicated by Oscar Requena.
“Will you be prepared to support him as leader of the opposition because we know that he does not have a majority support of the PUP representatives as a part of his camp.?”
“I cannot comment on that at the moment.”
“Sir but even if the will of the delegates of the party were to say…”
“That’s a matter for the parliamentarians. The parliamentarians are going to meet and discuss that. Certainly after the results are announced, I am sure that Honorable John is going to convene a meeting and the course is going to be determined.”
According to Party Leader Briceno, the support and placement of Cordel Hyde in a strategic position is a must.
“Cordel has to play a critical role in the rebuilding of the PUP, in us putting together a winning team and we are going to find a space for Cordel, a meaningful space, one where he can be effective not only in Belize City but across the length and breadth of this country. We need all the leaders. The same thing goes for the Honorable Francis Fonseca we are going to reach out to him. He took over the party four years ago and we didn’t get where we wanted to go and now the people have decided that they want to make a change but I am going to reach out also to him and everybody else.”
Of the two thousand seven hundred and fifty eight votes, John Briceno received one thousand one hundred and forty four and equivalent to almost forty one percent.