By Marion Ali
Ivan Ramos, the People’s United Party’s (PUP) Dangriga area representative who stepped aside a month ago, accusing his party of essentially forcing him out for newcomer, Anthony Sabal, resigned on Monday as a member of the House of Representatives with immediate effect, without giving his party any prior notification.
Ramos had come under intense criticism from none less than the Deputy Leader of the PUP, Julius Espat, two weeks ago, after he (Ramos) had made a written request to the Prime Minister for access to the government’s allocation of $25,000 of PetroCaribe funds to opposition members for their constituencies’ Mothers Day/Fathers’ Day cheer.
Espat had publicly stated that Ramos be reprimanded for the move, which went against his party’s official position. That reprimand never came about, and when The Reporter asked PUP Leader, Francis Fonseca whether disciplinary action was considered, he said no.
Nonetheless, Ramos never notified his Dangriga committee, which had apparently lost confidence in him, nor the PUP leadership and executive, which he had implied cast him aside for Sabal.
Instead, he made the announcement at the PetroCaribe-sponsored event he held on Sunday beside his house in Dangriga. That was one day before he submitted his formal letter of resignation to the Clerk of the National Assembly.
The same Monday, at a press briefing at the PUP’s Queen Street headquarters, PUP Leader, Francis Fonseca said Ramos’ move came as no surprise to him because the party had received intelligence information that suggested Ramos’ agents, (namely, his brother, Anthony Ramos) was in negotiations with UDP operatives for his resignation for $250,000 – an allegation that Ramos has vehemently denied, and one which his brother has described is false.
Fonseca also said that the PUP had heard similar allegations against their former Cayo North Area Representative, Joseph Mahmud, who also resigned without informing the Central Party Executive.
Fonseca said he was not so focused on a by-election in Dangriga, where Ramos held the seat. Instead, he said, he was more interested in the general elections.
Even though wild speculation circulated within the party that Ramos had accepted money from the ruling UDP to resign his seat, Fonseca told reporters that he is not someone who can automatically stop liking an individual. “I like Ivan Ramos. I think he is a good man who has made a terribly bad decision.”
Fonseca went on to criticize the ruling party, blaming them for Ramos’ resignation, saying that Ramos made the announcement at a “UDP-sponsored event. “I understand the UDP strategy – to bleed the PUP to death, but they have reached a new depth that … will bring them to their knees. We are down, but not out. We will rebound.”
Fonseca also aimed directly at the UDP Leader, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, whom he called “a bully with money”.
He said that while Barrow has jinxed his leadership for the last election results and for the resignations, “it took him (Mr Barrow) a while – about eight years – to become party leader.
Fonseca responded to concerns raised that under his reign, about ten candidates have left the PUP. He rejected the notion that the fall-outs are a result of his inability to lead. He said that he feels comfortable with the process of re-assessing, regrouping and revitalising the party.
“I have acted properly and have treated the individuals with respect. …It is those who don’t want to be a part of a well-managed party that are falling by the wayside. …What is important is changing the government, not the seats.”
The PUP leader admitted that the work ahead will be challenging, but he felt that with the work that Anthony Sabal has been doing in Dangriga, Sarawee and Hope Creek, the PUP can deliver that seat. Notably, Sabal is going up against the UDP’s Frank “Pawpa” Mena, who has been campaigning for at least two years in the area.