Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2022. 12:31 pm CST.
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A Commentary Contributed by Carlos Westby: “Audrey Matura is a bold person. A brave woman, unafraid to speak out, unafraid to tackle issues. The hogs weh bawl out are the ones who get the licks from her. Belize is desperately in need of more women like Audrey Matura.”
So said the Guest Speaker at the launch of “Moving Ahead Together” on Saturday 26th November, 2022 at the Biltmore Hotel in Belize City.
“Moving Ahead Together” is the brain child of Audrey Matura, an attorney and social media activist, a former journalist, Senator and former supporter of the United Democratic Party. That party which Audrey Matura speaks about cynically, is presently at its lowest ebb and in the worst condition it has ever been since the 1970’s.
Miss Matura has not shied away from the question as to whether her movement is heading towards becoming a political party. If that is so, the timing may be opportune.
Having clumsily prevented Patrick Faber, it’s former Leader, from being nominated to contest general elections for the Collet Division (which Faber has won for five consecutive five-year terms) ‘the UDP is grappling with ways to prevent another former Leader, John Saldivar, from seeking nomination to become a candidate for his stronghold-Belmopan.
Saldivar is a powerhouse professional politician. He is a skillful general and tactician, who masterfully engineered Shyne Barrow into taking over the leadership of the UDP following Faber’s major demotion earlier this year.
Saldivar’s sin is that on 15th November, 2022 the United States of America has publicly named and shamed him as being “involved in significant corruption”. A weird and ugly defamatory statement which America says they have the facts to support but which has not been made publicly available.
Saldivar’s supporters on social media have been correctly drawing parallels to the U.S.A. wrongful and defamatory designation of a Belizean businessman as a drug king-pin which ruined his extensive business interest to the tune of millions of dollars. That person sued the U.S government successful after years of legal battles. Saldivar is threatening to do the same “with every fiber of my being”.
The red UDP is now floundering between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is a perilous course for new leader Shyne. Because if he dumps Saldivar, he will have not one but two former leaders – Faber and Saldivar who will tear him and his ragtag party to pieces. Both men are political creatures who know no other life outside of party politics. Both men are on the similar journey as the Shakespearean character, Macbeth. Consumed with ambition to become king, Macbeth is made to say, “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which overleaps itself and falls on the other.”.
But the UDP, which has shrunk to a mere opposition in name only, cannot merely shrug off America’s brutal designation of Saldivar. Shyne, the new leader, a neophyte in power politics, had his political constituency, the tiny Mesop division, gifted to him by his uncle and father-the previous area representative and previous Prime Minister. He spent his entire adolescent and adult life in America, 8 years of which he languished in an American jail for a gun crime before being deported to Belize. He is living out a gangster rapper’s dream come true in his new found hip-hop role as leader of the opposition UDP, one day, so the tale is being told, to become Prime Minister.
That day however, does not appear anywhere on the foreseeable political horizon, neither for the General Elections in November 2025. Not with the ruling PUP having 26 seats and UDP having 5. Make that 4 as the Collet division of Faber is likely to morph from red into blue. Make that 3 as the Queen’s Square division has become a democratic mockery in the hands of Shyne Barrow’s very aunt.
But although the People’s United Party appears impregnable, all that glitters is not really political gold. The electorate can change overnight. The PUP, racking up some impressive policy and legislative moves, have been steadily ignoring the cries of their supporters for jobs and services. Having been forced into political wilderness for thirteen years, staunch supporters are literally aghast at how their government has kept so many UDP supporters in good jobs while qualified PUPs remain unemployed and are struggling with rising cost of living.
Even co-host of the PUP propaganda TV station, Mrs. Castillo, has been calling on her government to release UDP employees, “without any apologies”.
At Saturday’s launch, the mostly impressive female audience heard a passionate attack on the two-party politicians who have turned their backs on the shocking statistic that Belize’s poverty levels are sky high at 62% and rising. The audience were told there is no ministry of employment, neither a ministry for poverty reduction or poverty eradication. This political Achille’s heel it seems, will be a huge cudgel to beat the ruling party to a bloody pulp.
Which brings us to “Moving Ahead Together”. With the PUP losing it’s shine and the UDP having only Shyne, the arrival of a new, fresh political party with quality candidates may just be the vaccine the poor, unfortunate people of Belize are in need of.
All political eyes are now on Audrey Matura and her own dreams of being Belize’s Joan of Arc.
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