Friday, May 2, 2014                               

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Godfrey Smith

                                         

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Ralph Fonseca

Very few people if any make the roguish ruling United Democratic Party shiver in their pants but the announcement of the return of Ralph Fonseca and Godfrey Smith to the ranks of the opposition PUP visited some unease amongst the unruly bunch.

Rumors of General elections in Belize have been circulating for months. While no one knows for sure, there is mounting evidence that those suspicions may just be right. Constitutionally, general elections are held once every five years in Belize. The next general elections are not due until February 2017. However the ruling Barrow administration has not been able to hold their own therefore elections may well be called sooner as was the case in 2012 when elections were called one year early. Two years in and Barrow is out of gas – bogged down by “self inflicted” wounds. Corruption so rampant in his administration that calling general elections soon, as in before the end of 2014 may be his only way out.

And Barrow knows all too well the decision he must make. He articulated that to the media on February 5th of this year following a meeting of the House of Representatives.

Barrow knows exactly what the result of a general elections would be, he is doing his damn best to stay in office. His loss will be colossal and his fall from power will be seismic. Barrow himself has committed many of the very wrongs that is threatening his administration. Appointing members of his family to key positions in government and issuing lucrative contracts to his former wife and daughter, both attorneys have not sat well with Belizeans who are confronted daily by hardships brought on by high unemployment and record high poverty. Barrow’s unbridled practice of nepotism and cronyism has landed him in a position where he cannot say much if anything to the rogues in his cabinet.

News of the return of the two formidable figures to the PUP’s fold, visited some trepidation. UDP friendly Channel 7 couldn’t help but record the significance of Ralph and Godfrey’s return, even though the PUP didn’t make much of it. The PUP is lame at efficiently utilizing what they have – that may prove detrimental, although, there’s hardly anything the PUP can do right now to hurt their momentum given the UDP’s horrible running of the country.

“The executive voted to make well-known attorney Godfrey Smith it’s new National Campaign Manager. The high profile addition is major news because Smith is seen as Michael Ashcroft’s go-to guy in Belize. His appointment to the party executive in such a senior post would seem to suggest that Smith might be able to rekindle Ashcroft’s interest in the PUP – which could translate into a much needed infusion of campaign financing for the opposition,” News 7 reported on April 16, 2014.

Most of the report was about Smith. We have to believe that News 7 was speaking for the UDP in this case as they have on many occasions. Seems the concern is more about Godfrey Smith than with Ralph Fonseca. Admittedly, they were only speculating, News7 said.

“All we do know is that Smith who often publicly positions himself as an independent essayist is now fully back in the PUP inner circle as a chief strategist and to some extent, fund raiser – which is how Ralph Fonseca defined the post when he was Said Musa’s national campaign manager. The new arrangement as we understand it is that Smith will Chair a national campaign committee.” 

In truth, the UDP might be more concerned with what Smith may indeed bring to the table – MONEY – Lots of Ashcroft MONEY! “We note that with the Ashcroft Alliance’s backing, Smith did actively work in a dozen or so key PUP divisions in the 2012 general elections, running polls and financing candidates who were seen as likely upsets of UDP incumbent’s. He also worked as Francis Fonseca’s campaign manager in his failed bid for party leader in 2008,” News7 said.

Back in 2008, the UDP was allegedly endowed with loads that same Ashcroft money to launch a lethal campaign which toppled the already weak from scandals, PUP government. The jury is still out on what exactly transpired between Barrow and Ashcroft since 2009 when Ashcroft’s telephone company, BTL was taken over by Dean Barrow. Information is that the two are at odds, however Barrow’s law firm still enjoys some of the Ashcroft largesse through their retention by Ashcroft owned, Belize Bank.

The PUP even though passive at times is quite capable of defending itself against the UDP. The major weaponry that the UDP has that the PUP lacks is money and now that the PUP is purportedly coming into some of that infusion – the folks over the other side seem concern.

But that is all mundane politics. News7 didn’t say much about Ralph Fonseca…..that may be because they couldn’t. According to PUP whips, Ralph was instrumental in the rearrangement of the national bond after Dean Barrow had annoyed the bondholders with his arrogant remarks. If that is so, then it would explain why they tip-toed around the Ralph subject. Attorney at law, Michael Peyrifitte who is also speaker of the House is allegedly Ralph Fonseca’s godson. Peyriftte was Ralph’s lawyer when the UDP attempted to put him in jail on theft charges – if that means anything.

Sources within the PUP are saying that News7’s report is completely false and that it’s a ploy by conniving former PUP, Mark Espat who we are told is now the UDP’s national campaign manager. Apparently Espat and party chairman Alberto August meet regularly at the PM’s office.

If that is so, some folks are obviously concerned and if I were the PUP, I’d call their bluff. According to sources in the PUP, bringing Smith and Fonseca into the fold was only an idea that was put the national executive for consideration.

Internally, the return of Smith especially warrants some examination. He is as News7 said, “Ashcroft’s go-to guy”. Ashcroft has interest in Smart which is operated by the Bricenos out of the north with whom there is some discord after John Briceno demitted office of leadership due to pressure from party supporters who were not impressed by his leadership. We figure if Smith does indeed return, that faction would have no choice but to welcome him. Awkward!!! lol

Smith was one of those dissenting voices who begged John Briceno to leave by any means available….”just go”! Smith’s return would be interesting to say the least. We’ll keep monitor to see how this all plays out. Have a great weekend.