The long and short of it Print E-mail
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Written by By Jamil Matar   
Thursday, 15 March 2018 00:00

UDP supporters like me can spin last Wednesday’s results in many ways, like that we won 6 out of nine municipalities and that we won 2/3 of the total town council seats nationally, but the long and short of it is that in Belize City and in Orange Walk Town, we took what former U.S.  President Barrack Obama would describe as a “shellacking”, and to which President Donald J. Trump would add “like never before”. I was extremely tempted to begin this post- election review the same evening when I saw on TV the lady who promptly puts on her hazzard lights anytime she sees a camera, and when I heard the old trombone announcing “unofficially” that the PUP were winning in San Pedro, which was in direct contrast with the feedback I was getting from a well-informed PUP fanatic who was sending me texts with exclamation points, but I held my horse. It is these same stupid “unofficial” reports from the PUP-dominated media houses which contributed to the uncertainty in San Pedro Town last week.  Now Ashcroft Jr. wants to litigate against the will of the people.  I want to bet my life against a bucket of doodoo that Deamon will drop the issue like hot potato since there are no $millions there to be made from it.

The thing is, it is better that I  ended up waiting a few days to share my opinion, since  had I penned anything the same evening when  the returns were coming in, I would have been too emotional, too peeved.  Now a few days later I have gotten the true picture of what went wrong, and it boils down to two things;  big PUP  money and lack of organizational  proficiency in the UDP steering committee here in OW.  There is a Spanish saying in the villages that goes “cuando hay dinero hasta el perro baila” which means, when there is money, even the dog is happy. And the PUP had money, papa! Literally to stone dog with, as they say in Creole. The PUP hired 30 more vehicles than they actually needed for Election Day.  I now appreciate that the two planes which landed here a day apart were certainly not involved in the tourism industry.

The dollar $igns appeared early but I  gave it no great ponder, since in my limited experience in politics when voters decide to support a Party, little can be done to influence the tide. But this time around I saw big bucks circulating and I saw prominent UDP supporters gathered in front of the PUP Mayor’s house early in the mornings to beg for money or favors. On Election Day proper I personally saw long lines at the OW PUP secretariat in front of A&R on Baker’s street and also at Avila’s residence on Liberty Avenue a mere 100 yards from polling area 60. My little cell is an old, cheap, peeled-up ALCATEL and the camera no work or I would have snapped off a few. In the end many, many long-time UDP supporters went for the $350 being doled out for their votes. Look, the elections are over and nothing I say can change the results so I have no reason to lie to you. The elections in OW was literally bought with big money.  Hundreds of UDP voters got a cut from the PUP’s largesse. Afterwards some of them came here to complain that Phillip stingy!   A guilty conscience needs no accuser.   They sold their damn votes, that’s the long and short of it.

Now to the other factor: lack of organizational skill by my colleagues. It is now obvious that Hon. Gapi Vega and Mr. Chendo Urbina made elections look easy to win in OW when they were directly involved in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2015; a mixture of municipal and General Election victories.  But these gentlemen did not get involved this time around so that they could not be blamed if things went awry. And things did go off kilter, trust me, like never before.

If we ever want to win again in Orange Walk these two stalwarts should be asked to be a part an advisory team to superintend the coordinating committee  to get things done the way they should.  On Wednesday March 7 2018,  ALL of our UDP greeters packed up and left for home at 3 pm at three polling areas (San Fran, La Inmaculada and Chapel School; only Aragon stayed  at Louisiana Gov. school till the end of the polling period). And these same so-called greeters never did greet a single voter from the time they went out there at 7 am.  They sat under their red tents and texted all day. I tell you, BTL and Smart profited handsomely from UDP employees last week.

This essay is not suggesting that we try to match the PUP war chest next time around, but as a Party we have to show our supporters that we will fight to the very end, with heart and passion no money can buy. First off, there must be a senior UDP supervisor assigned to all polling areas and even during the canvassing period leading up to the polls.  While we need the youths, we have to ensure that we maximize their enthusiasm prior to, and definitely on Election Day. We also have to listen to the cries of our supporters who are under the PUP hammer in many institutions, some of these being public institutions like OWTH.

One final comment: the  skewed reports from  media hosts on March 7 has made it look as if the PUP had won this country, lock, stock and barrel, which is not so.  I agree with what Boots Martinez said Friday evening, now it is time for the PUP to support the money addicts they created, and deliver on the jobs and houses they promised.  Let the work begin Mr.  PUP Moneybags.