By Alexis R. Milan
The People’s United Party (PUP) held a meeting of standard bearers on Monday at the request of the 12 who have been lobbying for change and boycotting executive meetings but they never showed up.
According to PUP Deputy Party Leader Julius Espat, the meeting was held specifically because the 12 standard bearers requested it in the letter they wrote last week, where they also requested that a national convention be held.
The dozen apparently asked that the meeting be held between standard bearers only and not the party executive.The meeting carried on without the 12, since a quorum was present.
When asked if he thought the dozen boycotted the meeting because the PUP decided that the party’s leadership would not be challenged in the upcoming national convention they requested, Espat said he could not speculate on their reasons for being absent because they never showed up to voice their concern.
Espat confirmed three requests the 12 candidates made in their letter – the first being the national convention, which he said the party had agreed upon from March.
The second request was a restructuring of the national executive. Espat said since the request, the dozen hasn’t shown up at any of the meetings to make a proposal on what a restructured national executive would look like.
The third request was for there to be consultations on various reform proposals, something he said the party has already started to do.
Even with what appears to be a visible power struggle and a dozen of the party’s strongest candidates seemingly questioning the party’s leadership, Espat said he is confident that party leader Francis Fonseca enjoys the support of the majority of party members.
In fact, he said, at the National Party Council assembly in Dangriga several weeks ago, each division, including those which the 12 boycotting candidates represent, unanimously pledged support for Fonseca.
At the rally held by the party last weekend, Espat said, buses from those same constituencies came out in numbers to support Fonseca and the party. He added that the dissenting dozen doesn’t even appear to have support from their own constituents and council members.
Espat said he thinks it’s just a matter of time before the 12 come around. He likened the situation to a horse race in progress, saying once the race has started it is too late to change the jockey. He added that the party is open to listening to their ideas and using their positive contributions.
The 12 dissenters are John Briceno representing Orange Walk Central, Dan Silva for Cayo Central, Cordel Hyde for Lake-Independence, Gilroy Usher Sr. for Port Loyola, Paul Thompson for Albert Division, Dr. Francis Smith for Pickstock, Gregorio Garcia, Jr., for Corozal Bay, Jose Mai for Orange Walk East, Elito Arceo for Belize Rural South, David Castillo for Corozal North and Josue Carballo for Orange Walk East.