Today is Wednesday, tomorrow (Feb 7) is general election day in Belize. I haven't written about it before because mostly I don't care.
The other day I opened the San Pedro Sun newspaper up and saw my sister-in-law Miss Ophelia center stage photo on a full page PUP advertisement for Mel Spain, who is running for area representative Belize Rural South, which is the district that Caye Caulker is in. Nice photo of Miss Feli, I kept the ad.
Business has been a little bit slow all over Caye Caulker these last few weeks, so the idle chat and discussion has inevitably turned to politics between Shirls and me. Shirls is the daytime DJ and barista for the store. I can tell the weather before I even get out of bed in the morning because she plays Norah Jones when its raining. She's a CNN watcher and I've done my best to explain American politics, the house and the senate, what a primary election is, what the electoral college is (who knows?) recalling 7th grade American history class and 11th grade government class (which I wasn't paying attention in anyway).
She won't admit what party she's supporting for Prime Minister, but her favorites for area representative are mostly UDP, where mine are mostly PUP. Her choices are on what the area representative has done for the people, my choices tend to be how handsome the candidate is, and how well I like his voice. Francis Fonseca (swoon), Cordell Hyde (hot flash), Godfrey Smith (blush), and Mark Espat (o.k. he's not as cute as the others, but I like him anyway) I don't mind seeing Said Musa as the prime minister, because he has a full head of hair, but he's SO SHORT. Dean Barrow (the opposition candidate for PM) is bald with a head so shiney you could see your reflection in it, and when you mute the TV (as I usually do when they are talking politics) his gestures look like he's trying to imitate the Pope.
I am not politically minded, but here is Lee's Quickstart Political Guide for foreigners. Any Belizean reading this post should feel to correct me in the comments area as I am not educated on these things. These are my observations and point of view. At the end of the day none of it matters anyway because they are all corrupt. Governments are all corrupt, power corrupts because people are basically greedy. I say people get into politics because they don't want to get a real job.
Belize has no term limits. The Prime Minister could be relected again and again and again. And like any system that has no term limits and does not have an elected senate, they just get better and better at hiding the money.
Four parties are running.
The PUP (blue) is currently in power both the Prime Minister Said Musa, and the majority of the senate, plus most area representatives are PUP. If I had to compare this party to a U.S. political party I would say they are like the Republicans. The PUP is being supported by Hugo Chavez (the devil according to some Americans) from Venezuela, and is also being supported by the U.S. government. The U.S. ambassador was here on Caye Caulker the other day to attend the ground breaking for the new water treatment plant on Caye Caulker. And if that's not campaigning, I don't know what is.
The UDP (red) is the main opposition for Prime Minister. Dean Barrow (a lawyer)Belize City
is running for the office of Prime Minister. Belize City went through quite an upset a few years ago when Ms. Zenaida Moya a young Belizean Woman with her master's degree from The University of Detroit won the office of Mayoress, and the whole political dynamic from PUP to UDP. Zenaida Moya is NOT AFRAID TO TELL YOU OFF! I kinda like her, she has nice hair. If I had to compare this party to a U.S. political party, I would say they are like the Democrats.
The NRP (orange) is a new party with a Mennonite running for Prime Minister.
The VIP (not sure what color, let's just make them green)
Signs of the Times
The atmosphere is heating up with political rallies selling 3 dolla beers, giving away t-shirts, umbrellas, slogans painted on telephone poles, hand painted signs in front yards. In the last few weeks I've been up the Northern Highway all the way to Corozal. and I've been out the Western Highway as far as San Ignacio. If signs are the judge of things, all those little villages in the north are hardback PUP, and all the villages from Belmopan to the western border are UDP. And of course, the south is always red. The funniest sign I read was posted way high up in someone's roadside mango tree and read "UDP would sell dey mother" Trees painted blue with a white X on them, telephone poles with red swaths of paint marking territory. Up and down, red, blue, red, blue. Red t-shirts, blue umbrellas, red signs, blue billboards.
As for our own area representative, Manuel Heredia (UDP) . I can see that he's a man who works hard for San Pedro. Too bad he's forgotten about little Caye Caulker over here struggling just to maintain, struggling to keep our nose above water. In Belize, they call the non-elected party member for an area, the Standard Bearer. Mel Spain is the PUP standard bearer for Belize Rural South, and it looks like she could do something for Caye Caulker, but I think the people of San Pedro aren't disillusioned with Manuel Heredia yet. If Mel Spain isn't elected as area representative, she will still be working with the government representing the PUP.
My Prediction for Friday Morning:
There is no clear winner for me. Its a toss up. Will there be voter fraud? Probably. We just might need U.N. Peacekeeping forces here.
Although everyone is tired of the present administration, I don't believe Belize is ready for Dean Barrow to be Prime Minister. I'm putting into written words what I'm hearing from people on the street. They are ready for a change. If the UDP had a Spanish candidate then it would be a sure victory.
If the PUP loses the election for prime minister, they will bow out gracefully, covering their asses nicely on the way out. With a changeover in government they will be so disorganized, that for about a year they leave us alone and stop harrass.
If the UDP loses the election we better prepare for a little civil war. Remember the little civil war we went through in May of 2004 when the UDP incited a general strike? The teachers were on strike, the telecommunications strike which cut off all land lines, cell phones, no internet (unless you have a satellite dish), the riots in Belmopan between warring political parties, the BDF and Special Unit for crowd control and to quell the riot. Cousin against cousin in this country of cousins. A few people will get shot and everyone will back off again. Things got VERY quiet on Caye Caulker for a long time with no phone, no way to process credit cards, no way for the tourists to get cash advances on their plastic, flights delayed or postponed because of civil unrest, tourists fleeing like a hurricane is bearing down on them, and NOT COMING BACK.
Simple equation for Belize: no tourists = no money
Which color are you and why?