Johnny gone… Mark takes over, Saldivar will challenge Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 October 2011 00:00

The People’s United Party leader buckled under pressure and by 10:30a.m.on Friday October 7th it was official, Johnny Briceno had bowed out as leader of the PUP.Waiting like a hyena right beside him was Mark Espat. The crown of woes and corruption was quickly placed on the head of Espat. Never had something like this been seen in the grand old party.

It had always been known that Briceno was an ineffective leader that managed to weasel his way into leadership. He had sneaked conventions and craftily taken advantage of the PUP’s inability to decide on a leader after Musa had resigned. But Briceno’s leadership soon came under attack. His leadership was always being called into question because in all honesty he is not such a bright individual.

The PUP Old Guard had supported Briceno’s opponent, Francis Fonseca, in the leadership convention in April of 2008. At that time Espat was also trying to make a bid for the leadership however he was too much of a coward to actually step into the ring with Fonseca and Briceno and left the battle for the two. So Briceno had bested Fonseca and had secured the leadership however it was not long before the Old Guard had grown impatient with Briceno. It was only through crafty maneuverings that he somehow managed to hold on to his leadership at their convention in October of 2010. At the time the Old Guard representatives were forced into the upper echelon of the party. Still Fonseca was sick, Florencio Marin was a no show and the eternally absent Mark and Cordel were also not there for the coronation. His reign however was always an uneasy one.

Briceno’s leadership finally toppled however when he came under scrutiny with a series of public blunders he committed. The Wikileaks cables emerged where it was alleged that he took a 3 million dollar bribe. Although he publicly claimed that he did not take the bribe he was unable to prove otherwise. Then he came up with two very inappropriate speeches both on Independence Day and on the occasion of the public funeral of George Price. Those were significant nails in his coffin but the coup de grâce came at the hands of the former party leader Said Musa.

Musa publicly lashed him on Saturday October 1st at the Belize Elementary School Auditorium calling him a cry baby. He retorted publicly admitting that the PUP was a corrupt party where some were made millionaires over the 10 years when the party had been in government. And that was the end of Briceno as leader.

Waiting in the wings was Espat. Now to go for someone like Espat is a move of pure desperation especially because he is considered a traitor in the PUP. He was the one that is blamed for the demise of the PUP when he, Johnny Briceno, Cordel Hyde, Joe Coye, Godfrey Smith and Eamon Courtenay turned rogue on the PUP leadership.

But Espat’s closet is not all clean, there are things that burden him. Not the least among his bones is the fact that he along with Ralph Fonseca were the architects of the Superbond. This year alone that Superbond cost the Belizean taxpayers over 66 million dollars. Next year the payments will balloon to 84 million dollars. Then there are instances where large buildings have been erected on Regent Street leaving many wondering where the wealth to construct these buildings came from.

But even as Espat has at least one foot into the leadership run, the non-entity that is Arthur Saldivar boldly announced on Tuesday that he wants to run for party leader. As for his aspirations, well it is yet to see how that will work out. While he pretends to be a politician driving around in a van with pictures of himself on the outside, the reality is that he has not run in a single election. He has not proven himself. In fact the one challenge that he had was quickly crushed by the PUP leadership all in an effort to secure his position as the PUP standard bearer in Belize Rural North. Now he wants to be PUP leader.

The truth is that it does not matter who runs to be the PUP leader, scanning at the entire list of 31- there is not a single soul there that can lead that party into credibility. That party just needs to dissolve itself and those there need never ever consider to run for political office.