By Marion V. Ali
Retired Major Lloyd Jones is the People’s United Party’s (PUP) standard bearer in the Belize Rural North constituency, replacing Arthur Saldivar, who was removed after an executive vote a few months ago, following character complaints against him.
Jones, former Ports Commissioner for six years and retired Major with the Belize Defense Force (BDF) where he spent 15 years, told reporters on Monday at a press conference at his party’s headquarters on Queen Street, that he chose politics, and specifically the PUP, because the party, under the leadership of Francis Fonseca, represents change.
Fonseca has indicated to him that he is committed to returning Belize to the ideals of the philosophy of the party – to put country above party.
“The Belizean people are tired of betrayal. They’re tired of abuse. Deh tiad ah exchange monkey fi black dog”, the newly installed PUP member said.
Jones presented five principles on which he will lead his campaign and which he will stick to if he is successful at the polls:
1. Put Belizeans – all Belizeans, regardless of political affiliation, before foreigners;
2. Discourage Belizeans from voting voting in any referendum over going to the International Court of Justice with Guatemala;
3. Promote people-centred development and more dignified forms of employment;
4. Create opportunities for the private sector to advance;
5. Help every Belizean from the age of 18 years old to own their own piece of land without having to go to a politician to get it.
In answering questions having to do with his party’s past image and the reason it was voted out of office, Jones said: “Sometimes we look so much at what the PUP was that we lose sight of what the PUP has become. I don’t think the party leader would engage somebody like me if he weren’t serious about change.”
Asked why he did not choose the ruling party, Jones said:
“I think Mr Barrow (the Prime Minister) would never want somebody like me – an independent thinker.”
Jones said that if he is successful at the polls and his party treads down the path of corruption and abuse, he will call them out. “The only thing I have is my good name and I do not intend to lose that to politics”, Jones remarked.
Jones shared that he never had any political ambitions, but decided to enter the arena after Fonseca approached him some fiveor six months ago. It is an opportunity for him to say “thank you”, he said.
“It is time to give back, after having gained so much from the BDF, having travelled the world on the backs of the Belizean people. They paid for my studies.”
Jones and Fonseca said they will reach out to Arthur Saldivar to get his support. Jones added that he has already done so, but that he hasn’t received a response so far.
The challenge for Jones will be an uphill one, considering the time-frame between now and the next few months, when many people believe Prime Minister Dean Barrow will call general elections, because his constituency is spread out over 27 villages, and also because his political nemesis, incumbent Edmund Castrowill be well financed.
Nonetheless, Jones, while sharing that he does “not intend to win by any means necessary, was confident that he will win because of what he described as Castro’s unimpressive performance record, his “indiscretions”, and also based on an impromptu survey he conducted with constituents.
Castro, meanwhile, has said that Jones’ entry against him is irrelevant because Jones is just “a disgruntled UDP” who has a legal issue with the government – an issue Jones said he knows nothing about.