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November 09
16:01 2018

By: Major Lloyd Jones (Ret’d)

“Like in some senses, you would say you put Port Loyola as the kingdom. There is only one king in the kingdom. In other words if one of the candidates would come out as the heir to the throne – when there is an heir to the throne, the king doesn’t leave, until the king dies and which in this sense, the king will die on nomination day, sir, in 2020. So whatsoever it is the people of Port Loyola will still visit the king, because it’s the king who has the goods and services, not Mr. Peyrefitte, not Dean Samuels, not AC Castillo, not Phillip Willoughby.”

— Hon. Anthony “Boots” Martinez, October 2018 —

The lame duck area representative for the Port Loyola division, the Hon. Anthony “Boots” Martinez, raised a few eyebrows when in October he declared himself the King of Port Loyola. I understood well the point that he was trying to make, but to some he came across as being out of touch with the sentiments of the voters in his division.

Boots’ royal decree was an attempt to remind the voters that it was he who was in charge of the treasure chest. The elected Area Representative of Port Loyola was therefore putting the voters of “Port” on notice that if they did not support the candidate he endorsed that there was going to be a price to pay. No other than the Prime Minister would later confirm that all goods and services can only flow through Boots.

Boots’ thinly veiled threat was ignored by the voters on Sunday and his candidate was defeated. Boots clearly does not comprehend that voters in Port and indeed across Belize are becoming disenchanted with a political system that is long on promises but short on delivery.

In claiming his royal origins, Boots confirmed what many voters have come to suspect: that once elected these ordinary Belizeans become royalty! None of our elected officials has been as forthcoming as Boots about their royal status but we can tell by their actions and by their sudden majestic lifestyles.

Boots, who in 2015 sensed the end of his reign, decided not to offer himself as a candidate for the 2020 elections. By doing so he thought he could avoid the ultimate punishment from the voters: being voted out of office! However, Boots in his hubris made the ill-fated decision to endorse Peyrefitte, thus giving the UDP voters in Port their chance to deal with him after all, albeit by proxy!

Peyrefitte’s whipping on Sunday was therefore Boots’ whipping! The voters of Port have officially dethroned the King. Boots should be lucky that we are living in the 21st century because in the old days when a King was dethroned his beheading followed shortly thereafter.

Willoughby’s win has created some interesting political dynamics in the division. A win by any of the other candidates would have been better for the PUP’s Gilroy Usher who will be contesting the seat for a third time. He, like the PUP, is hoping that the third time is a charm but Sunday’s convention has to, at the very least, cause Usher to recalibrate his political game plan.

Port is a grassroots division and Willoughby is seen as grassroots, and so was Boots before he became King. Gilroy Usher is also viewed as grassroots and that will be to his benefit if he is to be successful at the polls in 2020. However, Usher still has to worry about the Dr. Pitts effect. By all accounts, Dr. Pitts remains upset at the way in which she was treated in Port. Whether or not Usher can draw her in is yet to be seen.

By some estimation, the UDP made a tactical error when they ganged up on Willoughby during the convention leading up to the last municipal elections. The UDP power structure gambled for Leslie’s money and threw Willoughby under the bus. Willoughby as the UDP’s candidate for Mayor might not have been enough to prevent the PUP’s assault but the contest would have been a lot more competitive. Willoughby’s rebound on Sunday is therefore to be admired no matter which side of the political divide you stand.

Willoughby’s win on Sunday puts him in a much desired position. He will be courted, wined and dined by the two aspiring candidates for UDP leadership. Into whose embrace Willoughby falls will determine the support he gets in 2020. If he miscalculates it will be to the benefit of Usher who seems firmly in the Briceño camp and is thus likely to enjoy full support going into the 2020 elections.

Willoughby must not discount Boots at this point because Boots has the means to hurt him come 2020. In politics, egos always come before righteousness and so if Boots feels disrespected by Willoughby, as he hinted in his now famous October interview, he can undermine his chances in the division. The question now is whether or not Boots is so hurt that he would rather see Usher win as opposed to Willoughby!

Boots fell into ridicule after his comments about him being king. The ridicule has intensified following the defeat of Peyrefitte, the candidate he endorsed, but the truth is; the joke is on us. Boots entered politics a pauper. He might not be king anymore, but he ain’t no peasant; unlike 42% of the rest of us!
The King is dead! Long live the King!

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