The true reasons why PUP Party Leader in Belize John Briceno resigned Print E-mail
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Written by Wellington C. Ramos   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 00:00

Last week the leader of the People’s United Party in Belize John Briceno abruptly resigned as leader and he said that it was due to health reasons. I have been following up Belize politics for many years now and I disagree with the reason he gave for his resignation. He resigned as party leader because of the following reasons; the refusal of the hierarchy of the party to accept him as leader, he was not endorsed by George Price for the leadership position, key members of the party continue to undermine his leadership, the withholding of funds and other party resources from him, a move by Belize City politicians to retain all party leadership positions and the Wikileaks scandal.

From the time John Briceno won the leadership position by defeating Francis Fonseca at the convention held in April of 2008, he was never accepted by many in his party executive leadership as their leader. Before the convention was held, George Cadle Price the most respected leader in the People’s United Party endorsed Francis Fonseca for the party leadership. Many party members in the executive leadership of the party were engaged in several undercurrent activities to undermine his leadership. To his surprise he was informed that the radio station, the press and other party assets no longer belonged to the party and he must purchase them for a price before he could have utilized the resources. In the history of the People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party, only two people who were not residing in Belize City have become party leaders. The first was Theodore Aranda a Garifuna politician who represented Dangriga town and the second is John Briceno from Orange Walk Town Central.

The final reason is the Wikileaks allegations which allege that while he was Minister of Natural Resources, he granted a license to a drilling company to drill for oil in Belize and in return received 1.5 million dollars US which resulted in him purchasing two cable companies in Belize.Briceno has denied these allegations that were made against him but so far has not shown any proof to show how he purchased  these cable companies. In the election campaign of 2008, the United Democratic Party accused the People’s United Party of accepting bribes and of being corrupt. Two weeks ago at a PUP party anniversary forum, Briceno said that the reason why the People’s United Party is not going anywhere is because most of the party ministers who made millions off the party in their ten year rule, have taken their money abroad and refuse to bring it home to help the party to fight UDP in the elections that were held.This statement could be seen as a confirmation to the allegations that the United Democratic Party was making during the election campaign.

Before John Briceno vacated the leadership position for the People’s United Party, the executive body decided to vote for Mark Espat as the Acting Leader of the party until a Party convention is held within the next thirty days. Said Musa the former party leader and Prime Minister for ten years, Florencio Marin Jr. and the Party Chairman Henry Usher Said Musa’s son were all absent.  In the leadership convention that Briceno won, Espat had planned to run but later withdrew his candidacy and threw his support behind John Briceno. When Briceno won, he then rewarded him by appointing him as one of his Deputy  Leaders. His brother-in-law, Representative Cordel Hyde was also granted a Deputy Leadership position. Since their appointments as Deputy Leaders, these two individuals have failed to support Briceno and have been absent from the sitting of the House of Representatives on several occasions.

Since these two representatives decided to support John Briceno for the leadership position, other factions of the party have isolated them. Mark Espat is not liked by them and his leadership like that of John Briceno will suffer the same faith. The People’s United Party is fragmented and until they find a leader who can bring the members of the party together, they will have a difficult time defeating the United Democratic Party in the upcoming municipal and general elections. The death of George Price was a major blow to them and one week after,  their party leader stepped down so things seems to be getting worst instead of better. They will call a convention soon and at that convention it will be outright war among the various factions. If some members of this party are not given what they want, it could be the end of the People’s United Party or the birth of a new party that comes out of one of these PUP factions.