Monday, November 9, 2015

Elections 2015 are gone and our sources have been hard at work gathering the winners and losers in the new Barrow cabinet.

Readers will be glad to know that CEO in the Ministry of Health, Peter Allen is no more. That position has been awarded to Dr. Salvador Figueroa.  

Dr. Salvador Figueroa , CEO designate, Ministry of Health

  

Peter Allen, Fmr. CEO Ministry of Health

 
Barrow is sticking with his man, Pablo Marin who, in spite of the scandals that rocked the Ministry, retains the Health portfolio. 

  
Member from Belize Rural North, Edmond Castro is “furious” our source says after learning that he’s once again being relegated to Minister of State in Ministry of Works. 

  
Castro we are told had some choice words about his boss which of course he dared not utter to Barrow’s face. 

Castro will serve with Rene Montero who remains as Minister of Works. 

  
The incorrigible Patrick Faber retains Ministry of Education. 

  
Newbie, Omar Figueroa gets Minstry of  Forestry and climate change.  
 
Elodio Aragon Jr. is Minister of Sports. 

  
John Saldivar retains National Security. 

  

Erwin Contreras retains Trade and Industry, Petroleum and Geology. 

  
Tracy Taegar-Panton is Minister of State in Trade, Industry, Petroleum and Geology. 

  

The most surprising scoop we got is that Godwin Hulse gets Ministry of Natural Respurces i.e. Lands and he will be assisted by Beverly Castillo who will be Minister of State. We pray this is a joke. We’ll fill you in on this disaster in the making as the information becomes available to us. 

No word on what if anything Deputy PM Gaspar Vega is getting. We’ll pass it on as soon as we know. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The pressures of a sprint campaign must have taken a toll on Senator Juliet Thimbriel and her good-good girlfriend Beverly Castillo and things apparently reached boiling point. 

Our details are sketchy but we’ll pass this on just as we got it. A source close to Thimbriel and her good-good girlfriend told NBZLive that the two got into a heated argument on Friday night. Things escalated to violence when Thimbriel allegeldy sucker punched Castillo right in the kisser relieving her of a tooth! Now why would the senator do such a thing to her good-good girlfriend? 

  
We don’t know – however we’ve been told that the senator has a history of assaulting her good-good girlfriends. Apparently “Audrey” could have advised Castillo had she sought the counseling. 

The incident was confirmed on the rostrum at the PUP pre-election rally by Castillo’s PUP opponent, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia. Garcia asked the crowd if they knew a dentist because her opponent needs one. That sent the crowd into thunderous laughter. Hardly the type of thing we want to make light of – and we can imagine the embarrassment this must be causing Castillo – but it seems it’s a thing in the UDP. Senator Thimbriel like chairman, Alberto August; Education Minister, Patrick Faber; Human Development minister, Boots Martinez and Housing minister, Finnegan have all been known to abuse their spouses and partners. 

Castillo’s bid for high office has been rife with controversy and scandal. She started out her campaign in scandal over a plot of land that she snapped up while she was CEO in the Ministry of Natural Resources. Scandal broke when the original owner challenged the acquisition in court. That case is yet to be settled. 

Castillo’s name became the pun after Prime Minister Barrow, during a meeting with Belizeans in October of 2013 in Los Angeles described the Ministry of Natural Resources under Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega and Beverly Castillo as CEO as “a hotbed of corruption”. The PUP have coined their version of that phrase and call Beverly Castillo, “the hot Bev of corruption.” 

With only three more days till elections, we’re sure there’ll be a more fireworks and we’ll be sure to bring you the full stew. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ann-Marie Smith, Chief Magistrate of Belize

Ann-Marie Smith, Chief Magistrate of Belize

Chief Magistrate of Belize, Anne Marie Smith may be facing criminal charges for alleged misappropriation of funds at the Magistrate Court in Belize City, a source told NBZLive.

Chief Magistrate Smith was questioned by auditors regarding deposits to her personal account which were traced back to Government funds during an audit of the Magistrate Court by the Office of the Auditor General last year. Smith reportedly denied the allegations and only back-tracked after she was shown a copy of one of the checks.

This latest revelation forms part of a litany of thievery of government funds by government employees hired by the UDP administration. NBZLive broke the story in October of 2013 of former administrator of the Souther Regional Hospital in Dangriga Town, Nasley Sommerville who siphoned over $350 Thousand from the hospital’s National Health Insurance Fund. Sommerville has since been dismissed by the Public Service however no effort has been made to recover the precious funds or bring Sommerville to justice.

Nasley Sommerville, former Administrator, Southern Regional Hospital

Nasley Sommerville, former Administrator, Southern Regional Hospital

We also broke the story of Melinda Guerra, former manager of the Central Health Region who siphoned thousands of dollars from that facility. She was never criminally charged or tried for the offense.

Melinda Guerra, former manager Central Health Region.

Melinda Guerra, former manager Central Health Region.

According to our source, the audit done at the Magistrate Court in Belize city is replete with irregularities – the incidences of misfeasance so many that law enforcement had to be called in. We don’t expect that anything will be done since other acts of misapporpriation of funds by other staff at the magistrate court were similary ignored.

Bailiff at same magistrate court was suspended from duty after it was discovered that he was shaking down perons who owed court and pocketed their money. He was allowed back on the job after a few days on suspension. he also never faced criminal charges for theft.

Tolerance for Chief Magistrate Smith has long grown thin among staff at the court due to what staff describe as her unprofessional behaviour and stink attitude. The magistrate is known for raising her voice at staff and using the court and its staff as daycare for her young child.

Anne Marie Smith, a Jamaican was serving as magistrate in St. Lucia before she was brought to Belize in 2011 to fill the post after Belizean Chief Magistrate Margaret McKenzie retired or was forced off the bench by the Barrow administration.

Tuesday, Ocotber 27, 2015
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It is hard not to seethe when you take in what Barrow has done to each and every one of us! This very man who for years castigated and vilified former Prime Minister Musa over the Ashcroft Accommodation Agreement (ONE WHICH HE, BARROW PENNED) turns around and does exactly what he sanctimoniously condemned from his bully pulpit. 
Here for your own perusal is a the Executive Summary Deed of Confrimation and Assurance to Fortis/BECOL.
 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: DEED OF CONFIRMATION AND ASSURANCE
 
As part of the settlement to the legal challenge to the constitutionality of the expropriation and nationalisation of the shares of Belize Electricity Limited, the Prime Minister bound the Government and people of Belize by a deed, (a written instrument that is signed sealed and delivered), to Barrow’s own version of the much vilified Accommodation Agreement but this time guaranteeing a rate of return to BECOL and Fortis for electricity supplied by its hydroelectric facilities in Belize for the remaining term of the existing power purchase agreements with Belize Electricity Limited – another 20 or so years.
 
By the terms of this Deed of Confirmation and Assurance the Government:-
1. By Clause 2.1 confirms and represents that BECOL will be allowed to carry on business in Belize “without interference” pursuant to all existing agreements relating to the operation and management of the Mollejon, Challilo and Vaca hydroelectric facilities including those provisions fixing the rates to be paid by Belize Electricity Limited for electricity supplied by these facilities. BECOL is therefore not to be interfered with by anyone including the regulator and the courts.
 
2. By Clauses 2.1 and 2.2, the Government effectively ties the hands of the PUC when it comes to BECOL committing the government and people of Belize to indemnifying BECOL against any losses sustained as a result of any determination which the PUC, as a regulatory body, or any court may make against its interests.
 
3. By Clause 2.2 and 4, the Government agreed that even if a court finds that the instruments held by BECOL are unlawful, then the Government will make them good. This is an unconditional guarantee given to BECOL that if it is operating unlawfully, the Government will do all that is necessary to make the agreements lawful without any financial loss to BECOL.
 
4. By Clause 2.2, the Government has locked in the rates in the existing power Purchase Agreements between Belize Electricity and BECOL regardless of what the PUC, any tribunal or Court might determine. Even if the PUC or a tribunal or court might determine that rates should be adjusted the Government must take all necessary steps to ensure that BECOL suffers no loss by any such determination and/or make good any such loss.
 
5. By clause 4 the Government commits to do everything which BECOL and/or Fortis may require in order to give full effect to the deed.
 
6. By Clause 14 the Government commits the people of Belize to international arbitration in the event that Fortis chooses to resolve any dispute arising out of the agreement to such arbitration.
 
And when regard is had to the Deed of Settlement and Compromise, a breach of any of the terms of the Deed of Confirmation and Assurance is a trigger entitling Fortis to exercise the PUT OPTION requiring the government to buy the remaining Fortis shares in Belize Electricity Limited at full book value. This is the real cost to the Belizean people of the wrong-headed nationalization which could obviously have been avoided by negotiating with Fortis to buy its shares from the outset.
 
The obvious question for consideration is how can the nationalisation of Belize Electricity Limited secure lower retail electricity rates to consumers when a condition for the acquisition is to lock in wholesale electricity rates charged by BECOL and to be paid by Belize Electricity Limited for the next twenty or so years?
 
The contradiction and hypocrisy is glaring!
IMG_4642

Belize Prime Minister, Dean Oliver Barrow

Wed., September 23, 2015

Leader of United Democratic Party (UDP) and Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow seems to be making preparations for general elections, credible sources say.

UDP standard bearers were called to Belize City on Wednesday, reportedly to pose for campaign photographs in preparation for the launch of the UDP’s manifesto. Our sources also say that a meeting of their Central Party council is scheduled for this weekend.

With options running out for PM Barrow where Belize’s ailing economy is concerned and members of his cabinet mired in major scandals, observers say that Barrow has no choice but to seek a new mandate.

Recently his former Minister of Transportation and Area Representative for Belize Rural North, Edmund Castro was in court defending his name in a defamation suit which he brought against Alvarine Burgess and Channel 5 after he was exposed as a cohort in the Penner passport and visa scandal that rocked Barrow administration.

Castro ended up withdrawing his case and was ordered to pay his accuser/s BZD $30Thousand, which to date he hasn’t. Our sources say that he is hard up for cash since he no longer has access to easy money at the Airport Authority. Castro was fired from that job by PM Barrow and the board dismantled after rampant theivery was occurring at the Airport Authority. The skullduggery involved Castro, staff and board members of the Belize Airport Authority. Castro signed numerous checks to himself, his family and his supporters. He even used the authority’s money to bury his mother!

Alvarine-BurgesHon.-Edmond-Castro

airport-authority-cheques-Bowen-Bowen

Sample of some of the checks Edmund Castro cut for himself, staff, board members at BAA, friends and family

Deputy Prime Minister, Margarito Gaspar Vega who continues to live under cloud of suspicion is currently in court defending his name after he was accused of sanctioning the kidnapping and murder of the father of his political opponent in Orange Walk North, Ramon Cervantes Sr.

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Shyne Barrow in background (black t-shirt), Vega along with attorney Rodwell Williams

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Cervantes family represented by former Prime Minister, Said Musa

Alleged mastermind in the case, Manuel Castillo, was recorded saying that he was contacted by alleged agents for Vega asking him to carry out the execution of Vega’s political opponent, Ramon Cervantes Jr.

The senior Cervantes was kidnapped from his farm in late June of 2014. His badly beaten and mutilated body was discovered in a shallow grave in the Honey Camp area of Orange Walk District in early July that same year.

KC-Ramon-Cervantes-Sr       Ramon-Cervantes

Orange Walk police are yet to question the Deputy Prime Minister. Prime Minister Barrow has kept a noticeably safe distance from the entire case. Barrow’s law partner, Rodwell Williams is representing Vega in the case which he brought against the Cervantes family and media houses that aired the recording.

Pundits are saying that this might be the best time for Barrow to pursue a new mandate while the opposition, People’s United Party (PUP) may be politically vulnerable due to internal squabble over leadership of the party.

The PUP recently announced that dissent within the party has been quelled with the return of the dissenters to the big blue tent after Leader of Opposition Francis Fonseca agreed to calls for national convention and a challenge to his seat of leadership.

While there are no polls to support opinion…..an election in the near future would be a close race between the two major parties. The jury is still out on who would win. Belizeans in general seem to welcome early elections which may not be a good thing for Barrow, politically speaking as some in his party who are disenchanted with his leadership say that all Barrow wants is to set record for holding office for three consecutive terms. Some in the UDP are displeased over the way the political largesse has been gabbled up by Barrow and his family. Quite a few of Barrow’s family hold prominent offices where they are collecting lucrative salaries.

Barrow took office after winning elections in February of 2008. He called early elections in March of 2012. If indeed he does call elections in 2015 or early 2016, and is successful, he will also set record for not serving out the constitutional full five-year term.

Monday, August 31, 2015Ryan Wagner & Dion Guzman

Details are still sketchy regarding the detention of officers Ryan Wagner and Dion Guzman in connection with a homicide investigation. We have been able to confirm that Ryan Wagner is the driver for Prime Minister Barrow’s wife, Kim Simpliss-Barrow.

The victim, who has now been identified as Eduardo Manuel Perez Sanchez was shot twice in the head sometime in the wee hours of Saturday, August 29, 2015. His body was discovered (by police) around 6 o’clock on Saturday morning.

Police filed the following report on Monday:

“On 29.08.15 about 6:00 a.m., Belmopan Police visited a feeder road located about 2 miles in from the junction of George Price Highway and Young Gial Road, Teakettle Village, Cayo District, Where they saw a Hispanic male person dressed in a long blue Jeans pants, blue T- Shirt and a brown Timberland boots with his head and face covered with a black T- Shirt lying on the road apparently dead. He was later identified as Eduardo Manuel Perez Sanchez, Nicaraguan national and laborer of Santander. The body had two apparent gunshot wounds to the head. He was transported to the Western Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Initial investigation revealed that on 29.08.15 about 5:52 a.m., a male person was driving through Young Gial Road when he saw Sanchez lying down on the side of the road apparently dead and called for the Police. Police investigations continue.”

According to our source, officer’s Wagner and Guzman came upon the victim at an establishment in the area. He (Eduardo Sanchez) was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and behaving unruly therefore Wagner intervened to de-escalate things however there is no report that anyone called for police assistance regarding any disturbance at the establishment.

The deceased along with two civilians (their identities unknown) were taken to a location in the “Young Gial” area where Wagner allegedly had a verbal exchange with him. Wagner for whatever reason, allegedly walked away from the vehicle and returned to collect the alleged murder weapon – reportedly, a police issued weapon which he left inside the vehicle. That is when according to the witnesses, he allegedly shot Eduardo Sanchez in the head.

Wagner, we are told went missing for hours thereafter and resurfaced hours later at the Police training academy in Belmopan where he handed over the alleged weapon to Officer Gamboa to whom he (Wagner) allegedly confessed that he had just “executed” a man in connection with the Russel Hyde and Marcy Humes homicides. Wagner was detained at the academy while the civilians and Officer Dion Guzman were held in Belmopan.

Sources within the Belize Police Department say that there have already been breaches in protocols which will compromise the investigation going forward.

Police earlier were asking the public’s assistance to identify the dead man which we think is a smoke screen. Today’s report identifies the victim but doesn’t mention the two officers and the civilians detained.

It is not known if investigation so far has established whether Wagner is connected to Hyde/s or if the victim in the second homicide indeed had anything to do with the homicides. Police’s tight lid on this one though raises a lot of suspicion beyond them just trying to protect their own.

The only connection we have confirmed is that of Mrs. Barrow to Wagner who is her driver and that Simpliss-Barrow and Wagner are from the Cayo-South area. We do know that drivers for officials are not randomly selected therefore it is no stroke of luck on Wagner’s part that he was selected to chauffer Mrs. Barrow. We emphasize that Mrs. Barrow has nothing to do with the incident.

This latest incident has rocked the upper echelons of the Belize Police Department and causing some tremors in political circles. The Hydes are a well-known affluent family in the Cayo-South area who have been experiencing a spate of killings spanning over a decade which has claimed the lives of multiple family members.

There have been collaterals for those murders. Sources speculate that there may be internal family feud over properties (land and money). We do not think that Russel Hyde’s and his girlfriend’s demise had anything to do with family largesse. Credible sources opine that it is drug related.

Hyde, it is believed was the target of an attempt on his life in May of this year when his common-law wife and mother of his three children, Rosella Galvez was fatally shot in the head while they drove home on a Sunday afternoon with their children. Days after, two persons connected to Hyde were murdered on Hyde’s farm – one a relative and the other a farm helper. That too was attributed to attempts to get Russel Hyde.

Hyde’s sister, Dorla Hyde-Pitts, her pregnant daughter, Starlette Pitts and her boyfriend, Myke Kelly and their unborn child were gruesomely murdered in Lehigh Acres, Florida, USA on Tuesday, August 11, 2015. Brian Hyde (nephew of Russel and Dorla Pitts-Hyde) is in custody in the United States for the killings. Again – it is unknown if the killings are connected.

Brian Hyde arrived in the United States in December of 2014 and was seeking asylum.

We will keep you abreast of developments as they become available.

 

  Ivan Ramos

 Anthony Sabal  

Sun. June 7, 2015
Rumors have been swirling for weeks regarding the impending resignation of Dangriga’s area representative, Ivan Ramos from the National Assembly.  It seems that resignation may come to pass on Monday, June 8, 2015 when he is expected to officially notify the clerk of the House of Representaive, Eddie Webster.

Ramos’ properties have been in the papers recently and to save his home, he apparently bartered with the enemy. Credible sources say that Ramos met with Prime Minister Barrow and procured assistance to save his home from foreclosure. He (Ramos) also went against concensus in the PUP and accepted his division’s tranche of the controversial Petrocaribe funds for Mother’s Day cheer. The proceeds he will reportedly use for a joint program to honor mothers and fathers in his division on June 7th. The kicker is that the newly installed PUP standard bearer for Dangriga, Anthony Sabal is reportedly being endorsed on same date.

Ramos resigned as standard bearer almost three weeks prior under a cloud of skepticism about his motives. But let’s examine those motive for a bit since some in the PUP are known to kick a man when he’s down. Ramos faced dire circumstances and could not get assistance from his party which has been experiencing its own financial hard times therefore he turned to Barrow. Selfish – perhaps since Ramos sought after his own interest and in doing so – sold out. But what else could he have done given his circumstance? Albeit, the PUP has no obligation to pay anyone’s bills. Ramos did say that his difficulties are his own.

This saga may bear more cultural significance than it does political. Ramos is a decendant of Thomas Vincent Ramos, founder of Garifuna Settlement Day celebrations which is observed on November 19th every year. Dangriga is also known as the Culture Capital of Belize. The UDP which Prime Minister Barrow leads is Anglophile and historically has discriminated against and shunned Garinagu people in Belize. The UDP has held on to everything colonial since Independence and where those vestiges have disappeared or paled they have recreated  – so Ramos’ decision has insulted Garinagu people who support the PUP. In essence Ramos has betrayed his culture, ancestry and the oath he took and opted look after his own interest.

By the end of Monday, June 8th we shall know whether the rumors are true. All indications are – they are. Ramos was rather candid in his comments when he porprotedly resigned three weeks ago. He warned his party of “idle talking” which he said he doesn’t engage in or has the time for. Ivan Ramos is not the greatest conversationalist – therefore most of his constituent’s business must have been i”dle talk”.

If we are to judge who is the winner here – we say the PUP has won this round. Yes – the betrayal is a tough pill to swallow but it’s for the better therefore we say, “good riddance!”

By Yasser Musa
Andy and Shyne
I’ve been thinking about two artists recently Andy Palacio and Moses Michael Levi (born Jamal Barrow) aka Shyne, both Belizean, but that is where the similarity ends.
 
Two days ago Dean the father of Moses announced that he was going to use Petro money to build a church for the church leaders. The Prime Minister’s smile reminded me of his son’s lyric from the Bad Boys song,
 
Bling bling, it’s a Bad Boy thing
Bullets heat-seekin, streep sweepin, with an evil grin
 
In late 2007 Andy Palacio walks up the red cliffs of Barranco. International and Belize media trail him. A hyped up pack of friends and fans follow him to where his mother is seated. Palacio is formally conferred UNESCO Artist for Peace by Culture Minister Francis Fonseca. His acceptance speech is short, he decides to sing and then dance in a circle of older women.
 
That same year Stonetree Records from Benque Viejo released Watina, which like a rocket shot up to # 1 on the World Music Charts. Andy and producer Ivan Duran are awarded the World Music Expo Award (WOMEX). In his acceptance speech Andy said,
 
“In today’s world, however, Garifuna music has taken on the additional role of contributing to the socio-economic development not only of its practitioners, but indeed of the very nations of which we are citizens, making contributions in just about every field, including education, governance, commerce, entertainment and tourism.”
 
Whenever I talk to artists, and musicians and the issue of Belize’s current Music Ambassador comes up the conversation turns sour, distasteful to borrow a word from the father of Moses.
 
Why?
 
In 2009 the artist Shyne returned to his homeland. His uncle Michael Finnegan declared to the nation that he had built a special extension to his home so that his nephew could start a recording studio.
 
Shyne was appointed Music Ambassador by his father’s government. They said he would be working with the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH). But by 2010, NICH was heading down a path of Colonial masturbation. They took a calculated cultural turn to pre-1981, back to British Honduras with its aura for fake elitism and a passive compliant approach to culture.
 
Since his appointment not even the staunchest supporters of this UDP government has come forward to defend the role of Shyne in the context of development,  except his father who on June 12, 2014 said, “I thought, hoping that he could regain former glory and rise to former heights.”
 
It is easy to say that Shyne as Music Ambassador has been a sick joke, a slap in the face to the artistic community and dagger to the progress that could have been made. However, that is not my main critique.
 
Shyne is a pawn on a chessboard designed by his megalomaniac father Dean Barrow. It was never about cultural progress, development or hard work. It had everything to do with a colonial mind fixated on power not progress.
 
If there is one thing I learned from my brother Andy Palacio it is that we are journeymen on a mission to change the things we can. We live in a world of contrasts. The approach of our ambassador from Barranco is very different from the one from Brooklyn.
 
Brooklyn is bling bling, it’s a bad boy thing.
Barranco is Lidan Aban (together).
 
Respect to together….Juntos Podemos!

Tuesday March 31, 2015

 

Jaime Chavarria

 

There was an attempt on the life of Jaime Chavarria in the wee hours of Monday, March 2, 2015. Chavarria was exiting his car in front of his home on West Canal as a shooter Who stalked opened fire hitting him twice. 

Four weeks later – this time on Monday night, a shooter who also stalked hit his target ending the life of Chavarria. The troubled life of Jaime Chavarria came to a tragic end sometime around 7:00 pm on Monday night when he was shot multiple times in an alley off Berkley Street. 

Chavarria who reportedly works in the construction industry was walking through an abandoned property in the area when the shooter attacked, police say.

Police arrived on the scene about ten minutes later where they found Chavarria lying face up and apparently dead. He was not pronounced dead until 8:40 pm when his body finally arrived at the City’s main public hospital, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH). 

Jaime Chavarria first made the news back in 2007 when he was a member of a trio who were accused of  the murders of Dorian Michael and mother of two, Keeva Leslie.

  

Michael and Leslie were reportedly carjacked at a gas station on Freetown Road in March of 2007 and then taken to an isolated location near the Haulover Bridge on the Northern highway where they were executed. The carjackers reportedly used the vehicle Michael and Leslie were in to commit a robbery afterwhich they reportedly disposed of their hostages and witnesses. 

Two others – Edwin Flowers and Danny Anderson were also arrested for the murders. After a nolle pros was declared in Chavarria’s trail, he agreed to turn state witness in the trial of the other two accused however he could not be located when the trial commenced. A nolle pros was also declared, setting Flowers and Anderson free at the end of June.

  

Chavarria later got into trouble for weapon and ammunition possession in August of 2010. Chavarria made headlines again in December of 2012 when he was one of five shot in the Milpa Area of Ladyville Village. Allen “Debo” Davis met his demise in that shooting. No arrests were made for the violent attack.

It all came to an end for Jaime Chavarria on Monday night in Belize City. Chavarria, police say lived at 163 West Canal in Belize City. So far, no suspects have been arrested for the shooting.  

 

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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