Posted: Friday, April 14, 2023. 9:00 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Secretary of the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU), Ruth Shoman, has been elected its president following elections at the Union’s annual national convention at Muffles College Auditorium, Orange Walk Town, on Thursday.
Shoman beat rivals Ifasina Efunyemi of Dangriga and Ray Martinez of Punta Gorda with 356 votes to 226 for Efunyemi and 71 for Martinez. She succeeds the term-limited Senator Elena Smith, who was elected in similar circumstances in 2017 in San Roman, Corozal.
Jorge Mejia, with 402 votes, defeated Edison Ogaldez with 253 votes to become first vice-president, while Bey Rivas edged Armin Cardinez by 341 votes to 313 to replace Shoman as National Secretary. Efunyemi, Ogaldez and Rivas were running together as “Team Transformation.”
Shoman becomes the fourth female to lead the Union after Smith, Linda Bennett and Helen Stuart.
Prime Minister John Briceño, who was attending events elsewhere in the Sugar City, led off with a tribute to Senator Smith and an extended hand of friendship to her successor: “…I want to thank Elena for the outstanding work that she did. She is a firebrand, but when we meet person to person, she is calm and determined and has a position, but we work together. That’s why I have great respect and admiration for her to be able to do that. I wish them well with the election of a new executive. I want to say now that whosoever the new executive and whosoever the new president is, our government is prepared to work with them as partners in the development of our young people and education.”
Regarding the relationship between the Union and the Government, the P.M. said that not everything has to be a fight: “We’ve always seen BNTU as a partner; we’ve never seen them as an adversary. That was the problem previously that the government felt that they had to be fighting with the BNTU because they don’t support whatever initiatives that they do. The BNTU has [its] own agenda or they see things differently and, in some instances, we see eye to eye and sometimes we don’t. But that’s part of a democracy where people can speak out for or against what you are doing. They have their responsibilities to their membership and we have our responsibility to the country, so we may have our differences, but we work together.”
Shoman’s term and that of the refreshed Executive starts on June 1.
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