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Feb 14, 2024

Who Will Take Over the Reins in Belmopan on March 6th?

There are a number of issues that Belmopan residents are expecting their elected municipal leaders to address. The upkeep of streets and drains are among those concerns, as well as debris and garbage collection. There is also a high demand for more family-friendly activities in the nation’s capital. On a political level, both the People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party have public perception to contend with. Outgoing P.U.P. Mayor, Sharon Palacio is considered highly controversial and the former U.D.P. Belmopan Area Representative John Saldivar, who the U.S designated as significantly corrupt, is a close ally of the U.D.P.’s mayoral candidate. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Belmopan stands out in the upcoming municipal elections, because it is the nation’s capital. It is considered the fastest growing population center in the country. Residents of the municipality expect their elected city council officials to meet the demands of this growing city..


Eva Aranda

Eva Aranda, Belmopan Resident

Honest to you I live here for twenty years and where I live, the street, there is no light by the street. Everything dark and whenever people stealing stuff and different houses, we cant see them people, it really dark.


P.U.P. mayoral candidate, Pablo Cawich says infrastructural development is high on the list of demands from residents.


Pablo Cawich

Pablo Cawich, P.U.P. Mayoral Candidate, Belmopan

A couple of the main issues that they bring up are streets, drainage, because there are many areas in Belmopan that floods out when it gets rain, because Belmopan loved to rain. Another issue is lighting.”


United Democratic Party’s mayoral candidate, Jackyln Burns, says the residents she has engaged on the campaign trail are of the view that the city is broken. She contends that Belmopan has been neglected by the outgoing P.U.P. city council administration.


Jackyln Burns

Jackyln Burns, U.D.P. Mayoral Candidate, Belmopan

People feel like Belmopan is broken. The potholes are not something we are use to. We are use to our green areas being nicely tapered. We have a certain pride in saying Belmopan is our home and we want it to reflect this nicely kept area. That is a priority for people.”


The U.D.P.’s campaign slogan in the Capital City is, “Make Belmopan Vibrant Again”. It is a reflection of the demand for more youth and family-friendly activities. Both parties are hoping to fill this gap with the youthful candidates that they are fielding.


Voice of: Belmopan Resident

Voice of: Belmopan Resident

Belmopan is known to be the dead and “boringess” place in the country of Belize. We need some recreational centers mainly for youths, not mainly for youths, the general public.”


Paul Casey

Paul Casey, U.D.P. Councilor Candidate, Belmopan

I am a DJ at trade, for entertainment part that is my strong hold. I will know what activities to do and create, because we have the kids, the high schoolers. We have the tertiary level, the adults and the senior citizens. So we have to think outside the box whereby everybody can work together or something for everybody to help each other and something attractive where it can be family friendly, because that is one of the major complaint, we don’t have any family friendly stuff.”


Chris Enriquez

Chris Enriquez, P.U.P. Councilor Candidate, Belmopan

For me, advocating for the youths, many of them feel comfortable reaching out to me. A lot of the concerns are that there is not enough activities in terms of sports, afterschool programs, academics. So for me to be in the position to advocate for them, I know what we like. It puts us in a good position because we now have a voice. Many times in politics it is the same older heads over and over and so for us to have fresh ideas, perspective and the energy to address pressing issues, I think it is a plus.”


But there is a dark cloud over the People’s United Party’s in Belmopan that stems from public perception of the outgoing city council. Mayor Sharon Palacio was elected three years ago under the P.U.P. banner as the first woman mayor in the Capital City. But, she was easily one of the most controversial mayors the city has seen to date. Will Mayor Palacio’s performance cause the P.U.P. to lose significant support in Belmopan?


 Pablo Cawich

The support for, specifically for this team has been overwhelming. We have been getting a lot of support from residents. Everybody has said that we have this already, but we can’t take that for granted. We have to continue pounding the ground, putting in the work and ensure that we listen to all the concerns that residents have.”


Burns, on the other hand, contends that residents are looking to the U.D.P. to take back the reins in Belmopan.


Jacklyn Burns

It is definitely what I am hearing in the campaign trail so we will see what it translates into the ballot box come March sixth nuh, and it is my expectation we will see the results we are expecting.


And, Burns’ candidacy is shrouded by its own controversy. Her opponents erected a billboard along the Belmopan Ring Road displaying her face next to former Belmopan Area Representative, John Saldivar. It is no secret that in November 2022, the US State Department designated Saldivar as ”significantly corrupt”, barring him from entering the U.S. Taking a stab at Burns’ campaign slogan, the billboard reads, “Make Belmopan Significantly Corrupt Again”.


Jackyln Burns

In our school we teach our kids not to be bullies, so I would not expect that at this level of a leadership competition, but about my face being tied to John Saldivar I have no issues with that. I have worked for John Saldivar, I have been his friend for so long and people who might not know him might believe all that I said about him, but having worked closely with him, having lived two houses down from him every since I was a little girl and having seen the work that Belmopan has gotten as a result of his leadership. I can say I am proud to be affiliated with the gentleman.


Leslie Zelaya

Leslie Zelaya, U.D.P. Councilor Candidate, Belmopan

Without trying to be bias, if there was something to say, if there was some sort of proof, Mr Saldivar would be going to court and to make Jackie guilty by association is, I would like to think we are all innocent until proven guilty.


Pablo Cawich

The sign itself, I don’t agree with it, but it is a reality in politics and sometimes the residents need to be reminded of the past and associations. Birds of a feather flock together right.


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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