There is a popular adage that says history tends to repeat itself and that saying has proven true time and time again. With the Honorable John Briceno seeking to take back the post of leadership in the People’s United Party there are some points of concerns that surround his leadership should he be successful on January 31 at the party’s Special National Convention in Belmopan. Part of the history in the PUP was the contention that came about over the ownership of the Belize Times, Vibes Radio and Independence Hall. You may or may not recall that on January 5, 2009, John Briceno received a letter from the law firm of Musa and Balderamos on behalf of Said Musa and Ralph Fonseca warning Briceno that he stood to lose certain assets after failing to pay half million dollars by December 31, 2008. Those assets referenced in the letter were the PUP assets, namely the Belize Times, Vibes Radio and Independence Hall. Briceno was buying the assets from a private company through negotiations with Musa and Fonseca for eight hundred thousand dollars but had failed to meet the payment deadline for the second instalment. The media was reporting on these assets of the PUP and the internal chaos it was creating for John Briceno as leader. In our interview with Briceno earlier this week, we asked him if he is prepared to deal with that issue once again pertaining to the assets of the party considering that the issue was never really settled back in 2009.
“I think that issue was more of a media created issue back then when Mr. Briceno was the leader. The reason being that the party hierarchy, the officials, the supporters know exactly that the Independence Hall, Belize Times and all the party organs are owned by shareholders of the party. There are various shareholders that own these interests. These shareholders have never come back and said, I want to collect dividends on my shares. They’ve done that in the best interest of the party and they have invested and given their time and their resources for the party. So that issue of ownership is not something I think will come up again.”
Love News also spoke to the Chairman of the PUP, Henry Charles Usher who told us that he does not foresee the party assets to be an issue that would come up again. He added that the matter had only become an issue after it was fuelled by the local media. Incidentally, in a release from Musa and Balderamos on January 22, 2009, they stated something similar, saying, quote, “any attempt to look for political drama is misplaced….whoever leaked such a private correspondence is attempting to create political divisions out of a straightforward business arrangement.”
“With the spread of our access to the internet, Belize Times and Vibes are important assets of the party but I think they are not critical as they were back then. One of the things, yes the present leader and even the honorable Said Musa have said that whoever leads the party will have access to these assets and use it for the work of the party. What we are going to be doing is that we will be going more to the internet, using the internet, which is why we are going to get a social media specialist within the party to have an active Facebook account, an active website, to have a twitter account, to have an instagram account to put Belize Times online so that everybody can have access of the Belize Times free of cost. To be able to stream our Vibes TV and Vibes Radio so that anywhere across the country that people can have access to it and even outside the country, we are designing an app for the phones. A PUP app, that in that app, at any time you can get any and every information including The Belize Times and our constitution and members of the executive, members of the House of Representatives, everything right here on your phone. This is what we have to move the PUP into the modern age and that we need to use whatever tools are out there for us to be able to spread the good word, the work of hope, of opportunity of The People’s United Party.”
As it relates to the relationship with Ralph Fonseca and Said Musa, Briceno says it’s all good on his part.
“Well I consider both Said Musa and Ralph Fonseca my friends. I have nothing against them. Ralph Fonseca has been very clear. He said he has retired from politics and the Honorable Said Musa has also announced that this is his last term and as the Representative for Fort George. I wish both gentlemen well but this party is more than that, it is the tens of thousands of supporters from across the Toledo District all the way up North to Corozal. They are the ones we need to think about, they are the ones we need to work for , they are the ones we need to fight for, they are the ones we need to create opportunities for and that is what my leadership is going to be all about.”
Currently, all three organs of the party are housed at the PUP’s Headquarters on Queen Street in Belize City.