Portrait of a TRUE winner

Statement from the PUP

3 Queen Street, P.O. Box 506
Tel: 223-2428, 224-5886 Fax: 223-3476


Tuesday, November 24, 2008 --- After meeting this morning at Independence Hall, the National Executive of the People’s United Party announces the following unanimous decisions:

1. The Standard-bearer Convention hosted on Sunday 23 November 2008 in the Corozal South East Constituency is NULL AND VOID and in constitutional breach of the National Executive’s direction. Following the Municipal Elections in March 2009, the Party will announce the time table for standard-bearer conventions in all 31 constituencies, at which time Corozal South East will be required to have its official convention.
2. The National Executive, empowered under Article 9 Section 6 of the PUP Constitution, expels forthwith the Corozal South East Constituency Chairman and suspends that Branch Committee for failing to carry out the decision of the National Executive. Fresh elections will be held shortly to elect a new PUP Constituency Branch Executive in Corozal Southeast.
3. The National Executive directs the Secretary General to conduct elections no later than Sunday 30 November, for a new Executive, including a new Chairman for the Party’s Southern Caucus. This election is in keeping with an earlier decision that all Constituencies and Standing Units of the Party elect new executives committees and in consequence of the expulsion of Mr. Mike Espat as Chair of the Southern Caucus.
4. The National Executive has decided that the convention to endorse the PUP Municipal Election candidates for the Punta Gorda will take place on 7th December 2008. The current PG Mayor Carlos Galvez and his new team will be endorsed at this convention.

5. A Special Committee has been appointed by the National Executive to review party and government-related conduct of PUP leaders during the past decade. This Committee will review controversial decisions they took, in the context of the recent Miranda Report and taking into special consideration the Party’s Aims, Principles and Objectives. The Committee will require Party leaders to give a proper account for their conduct in this period.
6. The National Executive endorses the decision by the Northern Caucus to replace its Treasurer the Hon. Florencio Marin Jr., as a consequence of his breach of the National Executive directive.
7. The National Executive authorizes the pursuance of all legal options relating to the controversial ownership and management of the Party’s assets, as well as the accounting of the Party’s finances by previous party officers.
8. Letters of reprimand will be issued to current and former PUP Parliamentarians who attended this illegal convention.
Immediately following its meeting this morning, the National Executive briefed the Chairpersons and Representatives of 23 of the Party’s 31 Constituency Branches of its deliberations and decisions. These Representatives gave their unanimous support for the decisions of the National Executive. The gathering also agreed that any further breach of Party protocol would be met with stiff and swift penalties. That meeting also called on all PUP members and supporters to respect the decisions of the National Executive and to work towards victory for the PUP in the upcoming municipal elections.


PUP's Distress Signal

Anyone seeing The Belize Times today would have read the front page as a distress signal. A full quarter page is occupied by a notice to party supporters advising them that Sunday’s Corozal Northeast Convention is null and void. If it seems a panicky move for a mass party, and it probably is, because despite bitter protestations from the Party Executive it appears that Florencio Marin Jr. will proceed as planned with his convention in San Joaquin Village.
And that seems to leave the executive in quite a pickle, because they can’t physically stop the convention, and so after it proceeds and Marin Jr. is endorsed – then what next? It seems John Briceno’s leadership will then either have to make peace or renew hostilities against the breakaway division.

Florencio Marin Jr.

And doing that means empowering or at least emboldening the old guard. And we say that because reliable reports say that former Leader Said Musa has been invited to speak at Sunday’s convention. That’s a report – and while it could not be confirmed – it raises so many politically intriguing possibilities – that it’s hard to overlook.

Florencio Marin Sr.

But by Sunday we will know and by Monday, we’ll have the breakdown of what happened and what it means for the PUP.

Channel 7 News
posted (November 21, 2008)

Statement by the People’s United Party

Press Release – People’s United Party – November 18th, 2008 – The Leadership of the People’s United Party wishes to outline its official position on the reports of the imminent arrest of former Cabinet Ministers in connection with the diversion of Venezuelan housing funds to pay UHS-related debts and a press release yesterday issued by a group of PUP supporters:

1. The PUP recognizes the concerns expressed by the ad hoc group of PUP supporters calling themselves “PUPs Against Injustice;” the Party welcomes their activism and their loyalty to the Party by acting in the Party’s name.
2. While the ad hoc group is not an official arm of the Party, PUP members have a right to freely and responsibly express their opinions.
3. The PUP Constitution advocates justice for all Belizeans, not just high officials and it demands that these principles be embraced in government and not just in Opposition.
4. From the time of the initial threat of prosecution against former PUP leaders months ago, the Party took a position, which remains clear today: that holders of public office must be accountable for their actions; that they are innocent until proven guilty; and that they deserve a fair trial by an independent judiciary.
5. The Party seeks to re-establish a covenant with the Belizean people based on the recognition of where the Party lost their trust, on fighting UDP incompetence and victimization and on offering a credible alternative to the misguided UDP policies.
6. The PUP National Executive will continue to monitor the actions of the UDP government, mindful of its responsibilities to the national interests, the Party’s Constitution and members and the Belizean people.

SPTC audit raises questions

Posted: 18/11/2008 - 02:13 PM
Author: Adele Ramos

Auditor General says, “…things don’t change unless Governments decide to enforce…”

In the recent months, the financial management of municipalities has become a cause of growing concern amid allegations of corruption in local government, but unlike the audit reports of Central Government, which are open and public documents, local government audits – no less controversial – are not nearly as easy to access.

In fact, a journalist in San Pedro, San Pedro Sun’s Kainie Manuel, had to jump many hurdles before she could get the privilege of seeing financial documents. She was told to wait two weeks, then to write a letter, after which she was given a date, and then due to a postponement, a new date, to go to the Town Council to see the document.

She had only an hour to review six years of financials, she was told – no pictures, no photocopies were allowed, and she had to read under the supervision of the town administrator and accountant, who were there, presumably, to answer any questions she might have about the report. The journalist was allowed to take notes on the audit report.

The Opposition People’s United Party’s Belize Rural South arm says that there are serious concerns over allegations of misappropriation and mismanagement of San Pedro Town Council’s funds.

"I can explain ..." When Mayor, when? The people have a right to know how their money is being spent.

But San Pedro Mayor Elsa Paz told our newspaper that the Council was actually run by the PUP for the first three years of the report, and by her party only for the past three years. According to Paz, the report highlights more questions about the council’s financial management for the period for which the PUP ran the San Pedro Town Council, though she admitted that there are questions regarding financial dealings under her tenure.

While the politicians debate the contents of the 2001-2006 audit of San Pedro Town Hall, which collects $3.2 million in revenues annually, the professionals at the Office of the Auditor General have, indeed, raised some legitimate concerns in their audit.

Auditor General Edmund Zuniga told Amandala today that in the audit reports submitted for Central Government and tabled in the House of Representatives on Friday, there were comments about audits for San Pedro and Corozal, indicating that there may have been areas of excessive expenditures – spending that was not justified.

Paz contends that there are answers for any question that the public might raise on the report.

“For me, there is nothing that compromises the council,” Mayor Paz told us, insisting that there were “no serious allegations.”

One of the most glaring irregularities reported is the fact that the area representative was getting paid by the town council. Regarding reports that Belize Rural South area representative, Manuel Heredia, who is currently the Minister of Tourism, was being paid a “stipend” from the San Pedro Town Council’s coffers, Paz confirms that he was, but she claims that Heredia was actually working for the Council. She claims that Heredia was helping them to execute land transactions under her tenure as mayor, and he made several trips to Belmopan in the process. Paz confirms that there were vouchers made out to Heredia.

According to Zuniga, the audits of the municipalities are “management reports,” and go to the Town Councils/City Councils for them to make clarifications on points that seem unsatisfactory.

Paz told us that this is the first audit report presented under her tenure, but it actually covers the period for which the Opposition People’s United Party controlled the Town Council as well (2001-2003).

Paz informed us that the document is open to the public; however, anyone wishing to see it can’t just show up and demand it, but has to write the Council in advance, and they will be given an appointment date and time to view the document.

According to Paz, the reason why the public is required to write beforehand is because at least two officers - the accountant and the town administrator, have to sit with the person so that they can answer any questions that person may have about the document.

This is the process that San Pedro Sun’s Kainie Manuel had to go through. She reported that, “The report reveals information from tax revenues, sale of Council’s property, such as golf carts, liquor licensing board, missing vouchers, and receipts, according to the Auditor General.”

Other concerns included the co-signing of a loan by the Council, the sale of the ferry that was at Boca del Rio Park, advances to employees and others, and the procurement of office supplies, the newspaper further reports.

Contrary to reports that the records for 2001 to 2006 have been destroyed, Paz told Amandala today that the council still has all those records.

The public will also be given a report on the 2001-2006 audits when San Pedro Town’s annual meeting is held at the end of the month, she added.

The Mayor claims that it was the Ministry of Local Government that advised them not to allow the copying of the (audited) documents, even though the council could make its own public report on the audit.

Meanwhile, the Auditor General reports that the audit for the Belize City Council will not be finished until this December, or next January. They would move next to scrutinize the financials of Punta Gorda Town Hall.

As to the audits for Central Government, Zuniga told our newspaper: “We decided three years ago to draw the line” at the 2001/2002 financial year, meaning that they would not be bothering with audits for previous years (reportedly dating back to the 80’s/90’s) that had not been completed.

As to the recurring concerns surfacing during the audit (of Central Government), Zuniga noted that “…it’s a lot of what came out of the same process the last time around…things don’t change unless Governments decide to enforce…” principles of sound financial management.

He said that while the Audit Department can make comments on irregularities that it finds, certain things are “for the police.” There are accusations and allegations of public officers committing wrongdoing - politicians don’t sign – but it takes forever for them to go to court; meanwhile those accused continue to get paid from the public purse, Zuniga commented.


The Ambergris Today continues with its poll, asking visitors to their website whether they believed the slate presented by the United Democratic Party (UDP) for the island of San Pedro Town was good.
The questions stated:

The UDP slate for Town Council election 2009 has just been announced.
0 - Thumbs Up
0 - Thumbs Down

As of Monday, November 17th, 2008, the poll showed the following:

The UDP slate for Town Council election 2009 has just been announced.

Thumbs Down - 58.30 % (302)

Thumbs Up - 41.70 % (216)

Total votes: 518
Voting continues - vote TODAY at www.ambergristoday.com

Portrait of a true winner!

$$$Cha - ching!!!$$$

Financial irregularities at San Pedro Town Council

Mayor Elsa Paz of San Pedro is in the hot seat tonight as her Council has come under close scrutiny by the Auditor General’s office for financial irregularities under her stewardship. The report covers the period 2001 to 2006, under both a blue and a red Council. The report brings into question several areas where monies either paid out or collected were not clearly accounted for. Some of the irregularities unearthed deal with tax revenues, sale of the Council’s golf carts, missing vouchers and receipts, the purchase of office supplies, the sale of a ferry at Boca del Rio Park, advances made to employees, and the co-signing of loans for a former employee. News Five travelled to San Pedro Town today and caught up with Mayor Paz as she exited Atlantic Bank on Barrier Reef Drive and asked her to respond to the allegations.
Elsa Paz, Mayor, San Pedro Town: “The auditing was from 2001 to 2006, which means that from 2001 to 2003 it was during the P.U.P. administration under Mr. Beto Nunez as the mayor of this town. From the 2003-2006 that’s during my administration with my councillors and that report will be on that annual public meeting that we’re having next week Thursday at the Lions Den and that’s where we’re gonna have not only the audit, but also the report for this year 2007-2008.”
Marion Ali: “But don’t you think that this is a matter that is urgent and needs to be addressed now before next week, especially with the report that’s out; some very serious allegations were made.”
Elsa Paz: “Well, I don’t think—my belief I will personally say that this is more of a political issue.”
Marion Ali: “But why? It’s your party that’s in government.”

Elsa Paz: “No, no, no. It’s a political issue because that press release that is in the San Pedro Sun and Ambergris Today and all the different newspapers, it comes from the chairman of the P.U.P executive.”
Marion Ali: “Are you saying the Auditor General’s report is inaccurate?”Elsa Paz“No, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that the general audit report ... we have gotten that. Whatever is in that report, we have answers for that. my employees together with myself and my councillors and the administrators, we can answer any questions that the public needs to know from that audit. That’s why we are gonna go public. We are having the general meeting and we will be presenting that audit to the public together with our annual report and there people will be able to answer any question or if they have any questions from the audit it will be answered on that occasion.”

Marion Ali: “Okay, are you saying that there was no wrong doing during your time of office?”

Elsa Paz: “I don’t think anything that can compromise us or any wrong doings. There are issues.”

Marion Ali: “Questionable?”

Elsa Paz: “Yes, there are things that are questionable but we can answer it because there are valid reasons for us to answer that.”

Marion Ali: “You are seeking re-election?”
Elsa Paz: “Yes, I am seeking re-election. I am ready to serve this community for another three years, which is another term.”

Marion Ali: “So you don’t feel the contents of the report can come back to haunt you at all?”

Elsa Paz: “Oh no, definitely not. I don’t have anything to hide. To the people, whatever they want to question, I am ready to answer. It can be answered; as we all know when audit comes there will be some times when there are mistakes. But like any other thing it’s ...”

Marion Ali: “Mistakes?”

Elsa Paz: “Yeah, maybe there are mistakes with the vouchers that maybe it was ...”

Marion Ali: “But those were consistent mistakes?”
Elsa Paz: “No, no, no, they are small issues, nothing serious. I am telling you. that’s why we are going publicly because we want the whole community of San Pedro to come to the meeting.”

Marion Ali: “What amounts are you talking about?”

Elsa Paz: “I cannot tell you what are the amounts.”

Marion Ali: “In the hundreds, thousands?”

Elsa Paz: “No, I cannot recall the amounts but whatever can be questioned I am more than sure that we can answer those questions.”
The San Pedro Town Council will be allowed to respond to the report after which the document will be made public. Meanwhile, the audits from 2006 onwards have not yet been completed.
Channel 5 Belize - Friday, November 14, 2008

Questions raised by SPTC audit

Questions raised by SPTC audit
The Auditor General has submitted his Audit Report to the offices of the San Pedro Town Council. This report is for the time period 2001 – 2006, audits for 2006 – 2007 and 2007 - 2008 have yet to be filed. For the time period of 2001 -2006, no audits had been performed at SPTC. After weeks of petitioning a visit to the offices of the SPTC, The San Pedro Sun was given the opportunity to take a glance at the report. SPTC granted a one hour visit to review six years of financial information while in the presence of two SPTC employees. According to Town Administrator Patricia Tillette, the employees were there so as to answer any questions that one might have.
At the moment, the Auditor General’s report is a live document, one whose process has not yet been completed. The report poses several queries to SPTC and allows them the prospect to respond. Once the responses are received, both documents are presented directly to the National Assembly.

The Audit Report loaded with information from six years of Council’s Administration from both parties, the People’s United Party, as well as the first term run by Mayor Elsa Paz and five of her six councilors. The report reveals information from tax revenues, sale of Council’s property, such as golf carts, liquor licensing board, missing vouchers and receipts that according to the Auditor General, “appeared as although no effort was made in securing these exhausted receipt books”, especially in respect to the National Emergency Management Committee (NEMO). Other concerns were the co-signing of loans at a Belizean banking institution for a certain individual, the sale of the ferry which was located at Boca del Rio Park, advances made to employees and non-employees of SPTC, as well as the purchase of office supplies.
According to Tillette, while the audit was taking place, these queries were answered to the investigators. However, the responses do not appear as a part of the report. When questioned about this, investigators told Tillette that her responses were noted and that she did not need to submit them in writing unless otherwise instructed. Tillette ended by stating that prior to the investigators’ departure, she asked them whether the receipts and paperwork on hand for the period audited should still be filed, investigators told her no. At that time, SPTC still had their old Town Hall and had not been renovated, during the process it was decided that all the paperwork for the time period 2001 -2006 be destroyed.

Efforts made to contact the Auditor General and find out when the audit report, his findings and SPTC responses would be presented to National Assembly were fruitless and it is unknown at this time if the Auditor General found the SPTC responses to be satisfactory.

The San Pedro Sun
Vol. 18, No. 43 November 6, 2008


PUP Belize Rural South Executive Committee
PUP Office
Angel Coral Street
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

November 10th, 2008

Mayor Elsa Paz
San Pedro Town Council
Barrier Reef Drive
San Pedro

Mayor Paz:
The Belize Rural South Executive Committee of the People’s United Party (PUP) is through this medium requesting that your office disclose all relevant financial reports to the media, interested parties and all residents of San Pedro.

The Committee has noted with grave concern that the only Audit Report conducted during the 6 years of your administration of this municipality’s funds has raised serious questions leading to allegations of misappropriation and mismanagement of public funds in San Pedro. It is absolutely outrageous that these allegations are compounded with the report that all 2001-2006 voucher records for the SPTC have already been disposed of. This we find borders dangerously on the interpretation that your administration is hiding major financial misappropriations from the hard working residents of this municipality. We urge you to prove otherwise by way of producing concrete evidence that this is not so as this report surely has raised more questions than answers.

As one of the largest revenue collecting municipalities in the country, official figures indicate that the San Pedro Town Council collects about 2.8 – 3 million dollars per annum. During the course of five years of collecting these revenues your Town Council has failed to present any quarterly or annual reports as you pledged to do in your Manifesto to the people.

Two months ago the Town Council announced that Transport Fees both from San Pedro and Caye Caulker approximating $200,000 per annum will now be used to expand the SPTC budget. This new development combined with additional fees you plan to impose on Taxi drivers and other entrepreneurs on the island raise major concerns in view of San Pedro Town Council’s lack of financial reporting and accountability.

The new Belize Rural South Executive Committee in its pledge to ensure zero tolerance for lack of accountability and transparency across the board makes an urgent call on you as Mayor of this municipality to release copies of the recent Audit Report in a manner that will allow for in-depth review and scrutiny on the part of all interested parties.

In view of the undeniable fact that the people of San Pedro have a right to be fully informed of the financial reports of this Town Council and, based on your need to make good on your promise to make these available, the PUP Belize Rural South Executive urges you to respond to this important request in a prompt and efficient manner.
Yours Sincerely,

Andre Perez, Chairperson
PUP Belize Rural South

Cc. Ambergris Today
San Pedro Sun
The Belize Times
The Reporter
The San Pedro Business Association
Ambergris Chamber of Commerce

Big Spending at the Radisson

Things are looking bad for tourism with a 5% drop in the first two quarters of the year, and small time tourism stakeholders are throwing in the towel. Hundreds have already lost their jobs and many more will be lost, but for the UDP, it is a time of plenty. Word is that the Minister of Tourism Manuel ‘Jun Jun’ Heredia celebrated his birthday a couple days ago, and threw himself a big bash out of BTB funds at the Radisson, no less. Word is that it was a free for all, with food and drinks flowing for all and sundry. So while poor Belizeans have to close their doors because the incompetent UDP administration is destroying tourism, the Tourism Minister is living it up at the Radisson on BTB funds…Happy Birthday, Jun Jun…all $40,000 worth…If da noh so!
Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr.
"Da soh???"

But while Manuel is drinking at the Radisson, more than likely he’s drowning his sorrows, cause San Pedro lady mayor Elsa Paz says that she is back in the race. Seem like those two can’t get along, and Heredia had his own candidates all lined up in a row when Paz announced that she would not contest the upcoming municipal elections. Tough luck, Manuel, and you better drink a lot more, cause you got a lot of sorrows coming in the days ahead. Word is already coming out of the BTB about the San Pedro land deal by the Holy Cross Anglican School and other deals…did you really think that putting a gag order in place at the BTB would work? Hell no! Enjoy your last days, buddy…If da noh so!


If da no soh - Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

To Barrow: "Demand the return of taxpayer dollars"

In his press conference held on October 15, 2008, the Prime Minister attempted to explain away allegations against Belize City Mayor Zenaida Moya that she misappropriated taxpayer dollars by paying herself an unauthorized $3,000 per month extra. According to the Prime Minister, the Mayor may have misunderstood the wishes of her Council.

Taxpayers are asking that Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow demand the return of the monies taken by Mayor Moya.

But the allegation remains, that without the knowledge or consent of her Council, Mayor Zenaida Moya paid herself an additional $3,000 per month, bringing her monthly salary to $9,000. Those allegations have been borne out by an audit of the Belize City Council carried out by the Ministry of Local Government, which confirmed that for the past two and a half years, Mayor Zenaida Moya has been receiving an unapproved, extra-budgetary salary payment of $3,000. The Belize City Council Act, Chapter 85 Revised Edition 2000 authorizes the council, by resolution, to fix an allowance to be paid to its members.

Mayor Zenaida Moya asked to return salaries that are alleged she paid herself.

On Thursday, October 2, 2008, the Ministry of Local Government convened a meeting with the Council to address this matter, and following that meeting, nine Belize City Councilors approved and passed a resolution at a duly convened meeting of the Council requiring that the unapproved salary payment “cease forthwith,” and that all unauthorized sums paid to the Mayor be repaid by her immediately, a clear indication that the Mayor did not have the approval of the Members of the Council and therefore acted illegally.

While the United Democratic Party Government seems inclined to dismiss this matter, the PUP is concerned about the Mayor’s abuse of power. The PUP therefore calls on the Ministry of Local Government to make the full report of their findings available to the public. The PUP also calls on Prime Minister Barrow to take action forthwith to ensure that there is full compliance with the findings and the resulting resolution passed by the Belize City Council.

The Party also calls on Deputy Mayor Anthony Michael and the eight other Councilors who approved and passed the resolution to take all necessary action to protect the interests of Belize City taxpayers, and to prove to all Belizeans that their actions were grounded in principle, as they claimed in the public forum.

The residents of the old capital deserve better from their elected managers, at the very least the service, accountability, transparency and integrity which were promised so feverishly by the UDP during their campaign.

- press release -

In a world of HER own!

Chilling in the "mud pools" of San Pedro

Vote NOW!

The United Democratic Party, Belize Rural South, presented its slate for the upcoming March 2009 Elections. Do YOU think that their candidates are a good choice. Go to www.ambergristoday.com and vote on their weekly poll. Poll closes Tuesday.