Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We are two days shy of the sixth anniversary of John Briceno’s humiliation in the House of Representatives when an email purportedly authored and sent by former Governor of Central Bank, Sydney Campbell was read to the nation by John Saldivar. The agonizing embarrassment came days after the PUP led then by John Briceno took a trouncing at the polls in the March 4th municipal elections. There were sixty-seven seats up for grabs – PUP only clenched three. So it was with that dejection that the Opposition filed into the House of Representatives on March 19th to face off in that year’s budget debate.

John B. went with everything he could muster but was quickly shut down when John Saldivar, got up in response with Briceno’s speech in hand. “How can we use his government as an example and he said, ‘the PUP, and I am quoting from his speech,’ the PUP in its time in office delivered on its promises and grew the Belizean economy, created jobs, achieved growth, kept people working, kept the lights on, blah blah blah,” Saldivar jabbed

Then came the knock out punch. “I hope he has thanked the former Governor of the Central Bank who wrote his speech along with a certain former Ambassador and I can say that Mr. Speaker because I do have a copy verbatim of your speech intercepted through the email. So I know it was not written by the Leader of the Opposition and the least he can do Mr. Speaker, if he wants to become the leader of this country, is to learn to write his own ideas.” Ouch! With that Briceno was benched.

Back then Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde were a formidable duo. The two sat there and laughed as Briceno was humiliated and then left shortly after without contributing to the debate. Francis Fonseca was the one who jumped to Briceno’s defense registering his outrage over the invasive and tactless act.

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Freetown Area Rep.
“He seems very proud of the fact Mr. Speaker that somehow he has intercepted

an email belonging to the Leader of the Opposition. He seems to be very proud of that fact and I don’t think the people of Belize will be very proud of him for announcing and making this public pronouncement that he is so proud of – that he has intercepted a personal and private email of the Leader of the Opposition. That is a very serious matter. If they can do that to us members of the National Assembly, imagine what they can do to the people of Belize out there – the ordinary man and woman out there. It is a very serious matter and I want to ask the media to ask the leader of the this country, the Prime Minister, you ask him if he supports that action on the part of one of the members of his government and on the part of his party.” Short answer – yes – Barrow never condemned the act and we proffer that he knew before hand. Afterall, isn’t that how the show is run?

The handwriting was on the wall as to what would later play out in the PUP. Espat and Hyde continued to undermine Briceno’s leadership – not showing up for important meetings and events, Espat eventually leaving to take up an appointment in the UDP government. Cordel Hyde’s son became gravely ill and later succumbed therefore Hyde was forced to bow out of the election race days before the 2012 elections.

What ensued until Briceno himself grew tired were a series of gaffes and a raging internal battle that further demoralized the PUP. Briceno and his executive targeted supposed supporters of the former leadership and the backlash got him scorched. He stepped down on Friday, October 11, 2011. The following was his parting statement in which he claimed that his reason for stepping down was due to medical reasons.

“Today at the National Executive meeting I announced my resignation as Party Leader of the People’s United Party. Consequent to my announcement, the National Executive decided that the Hon. Mark Espat serve as acting Party Leader in the interim.

Over the past few months, I have been battling with my health issues and it will require me having periodic visits abroad for treatment.

In the months to come, as we prepare for Municipal and National elections, the party will require its party leader and all its National Leaders to work at a full 100% of their capacity. After consulting with my doctors, they have advised that I would be unable to dedicate the amount of time needed to head the party to victory.

These are crucial elections that the party must win. The direction that the present government is taking our country is a bad one- from record unemployment, a collapsing economy and crime spiraling out of control. This is not the Belize that Belizeans deserves and only a PUP government can save Belize.

It is because of this that I will continue my work as the Orange Walk Central Area Representative and PUP Standard Bearer. It has been a great honor to be the leader of the greatest political party in Belize, the People’s United Party. I need to thank the members of the National Executive and the thousands of supporters across the country who have given me their unqualified support. I will be forever grateful for all your support during my time as Party Leader.

The PUP is poised to win the next Municipal and National Elections. Let’s roll up our sleeves and continue the noble work of saving Belize.

Long live the Peoples’ United Party. May God bless Belize.”

Fast forward to this so-called “leaked” recorded interview with John Briceno who obviously still has a chip on his shoulder. At the top, Briceno admits that he lied about why he stepped down – he wasn’t “battling with health issues” that required “periodic visits abroad for treatment.” We won’t even laugh about that revelation. It is bad karma to make up stories about one’s health. Could Briceno be the delusional and desperate one here? The obvious question would be “why?” He after all is formidable in his Orange Walk Central. So what eludes Briceno that he wants so badly that he would risk his career and his reputation on?

No doubt, Briceno was used by Dean Barrow to sow discord in the PUP to distract from his own troubles in the UDP. Although Briceno has been accused of wanting back the seat of leadership of the PUP, we can’t corroborate that because Briceno hasn’t admitted to any of that on record. In fact he has spoken categorically to the contrary telling the nation via Channel 5 on Wednesday March 11, 2015 that he supports Francis Fonseca as PUP leader.

“I stand here as a proud member of the People’s United Party. I believe in the principles and the policies of the People’s United Party, and as a party supporter we have one leader. That leader is the Hon. Francis Fonseca. I support Francis Fonseca. I support his leadership. I’ve been working along with him and with members of the National Executive and also with other standard bearers. I want to make it abundantly clear that the enemy is not within us. The enemy is outside of the P.U.P.  We have one enemy and that is the United Democratic Party. We believe that this country needs the People’s United Party back in government. It is only when you have a P.U.P. government that you have true development…that we build schools, highways, we create jobs for people…not artificial jobs like what is being created right now. We create dignity for the Belizean people,” Briceno said.

The gushing endorsement of Fonseca by Briceno should have called the dogs off on both sides of the warring factions in the PUP but they are far from keeping calm. There are those who want Fonseca and his executive gone and replaced with Briceno and there are those who want to keep Fonseca but remove some members of his cabal of deputies. Guess we will wait and see what transpires at a meeting of the PUP’s parliamentary caucus on Wednesday, March 18th to which national executive members are invited.

The “leaked” interview

Johnny cake admits 1

First – Briceno admitted that he lied about his reason for stepping down. As he unloaded, he divulged who he believed his adversaries in the party were. He believed them to be Francis Fonseca, Said Musa, Ralph Fonseca and Mark Espat. Same Mark Espat that disrespected Briceno’s office as Leader of Opposition, same Mark Espat who Briceno lamented was at odds with former leader, Said Musa. Now – might that mean that Briceno, Barrow and Espat are in cahoots? Or should we be examining Briceno’s coherency?

Briceno then lamented about money – money he couldn’t get from party financiers. He got many turn-downs but he didn’t elaborate on why he couldn’t attract financial support for the PUP. He went on to say that he had spent his own money and in so doing he threw former leader Said Musa and late Leader Emeritus and Father of Belizean Independence under the bus. “I had already spent three million dollars from my own pocket. Nobody else’s money,” Briceno wined. Not that $3 million is chump change to us but we have to question Briceno’s reasoning here. He stated that no one could challenge him because he had worked for it (leadership). What kind of “work” he put in – well we think he spent a good sum to garner leadership. Did Briceno think that donors would flock to him with their money? Just what obligation did anyone have to John Briceno with THEIR OWN money? This might be a tough question for the dullard to answer but we’ll ask anyway – how did he think the PUP survive prior to his $3 million? The guy’s reasoning is terribly flawed.

If indeed Espat is in cahoots (we’re only guessing here) he should help Briceno with figuring  things out. Espat bailed out in October of 2011 when he realized that he couldn’t attract the funding necessary to effectively contest the upcoming general elections.

“I took out a loan for one million dollars for the Town Council Elections in 2009,” Briceno further lamented and then contradicted himself saying that he is donating monthly to the PUP, Fourteen Thousand, Eight Hundred Dollars ($14,800.00). Well we would like to ask John Briceno who he thinks should repay the money that he borrowed? While we’re at it – who cosigned on that loan?

Johnny cake loan payment

Here is where he clarifies (we think) why he stepped down – well you be the judge because we’re still not sure. Was it the financial strain he and his family undertook or was it his notion that Francis would have put him in the back bench? Whatever gave him that notion?

Y Johnny cake stepped

Y Johnny cake stepped 2

We have to turn to the one accused for an answer. And then Briceno went off his rockers claiming that Musa, Ralph Fonseca and Francis hashed a plan to take him down by criticizing him in the National Perspective Newspaper. Don’t laugh, Please! We can’t quite follow what he meant afterwards – he went postal rambling that “the cancer in the PUP that you (his interviewer) should talk about. That is the cancer that we have,” he spilled. “That is the cancer that stole millions and millions and millions of dollars from the people,” He gushed.

And then it was Deputy Leader, Julius Espat’s turn to be sucked into the vortex of Briceno’s dementia. But we thought Julius and John were friends. Please don’t laugh….we’re trying not to humor this episode. It has certainly worked for the UDP. It sparked the unease in the PUP that Barrow hoped for. See – even though the UDP won the elections and they should be in a celebratory mood, there is great unease within the UDP and guess who is not a happy camper? Dean Barrow! With many in his cabinet of miscreants flocking to his deputy Gaspar Vega who Dean cannot control – things have not been exactly comfortable for the Prime Minister.

Deputy Party Leader, Julius Espat

To finish up on Briceno’s meltdown – he claimed that Deputy Julius took off with all of the campaign money in 2009. Again here, we’d have to ask Julius Espat about the claims – suffice it to say that no one seems to want to dignify the ramblings with any formal comment. We however assert that John Briceno’s words are defamatory and it caused great unease within the PUP. We will finish this one by offering a bit of advice to the PUP – do something about Briceno. The voters that still support the party and have been traumatized by this episode deserve resolution to this. The worst thing you can do and we pray you don’t resort to is throwing him out. He has publicly said that he supports leader, Francis Fonseca – make sure he shows it. That can be done by caulking the leak spot.

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