By Michelle Sutherland
Final preparations for the United Democratic Party's (UDP) Convention in Belmopan is in full swing, and while a poll among Belmopan residents says former three-time area representative John Saldivar is the likely winner, UDP Leader Moses “Shyne” Barrow is sticking to his endorsement of George Lovell.
“I do believe it’s time for a change in Belmopan,” Barrow said to The Reporter on Thursday. “I do not believe it is in the best interest of the UDP to offer a candidate to the electorate that has been designated as ‘significantly corrupt’ by our bilateral partners and was voted out by a margin of 2500 votes because of corruption allegations.”
The UDP leader’s position holds despite a recent poll from well-known pollster Dr. Phillip Castillo, who is also an assistant economics professor at the University of Belize. Castillo disclosed the findings of his poll that he conducted in and around Belmopan to gauge the reaction of citizens of Garden City and how they will be voting this weekend.
According to Castillo, the poll, which was distributed among a sample size of 168 residents out of 9,400 voters, followed a precise methodology, one that he is confident in and a result that he will stand by.
Those results indicated that among the three candidates that are vying for the post of Standard Bearer, John Saldivar appeared to be the most popular, with approximately 72.4 % of the respondents stating that they would be casting their votes for him.
An estimated 15.2% of voters also indicated that they would be putting their support for political newcomer and businessman Emil Torres, while only 12.4% said they intend to vote for retired Colonel George Lovell, former CEO in the Ministry of National Security under the UDP administration.
The Reporter asked Barrow whether a victory for Saldivar would result in a poor reflection of his strength as a leader, being that he did not endorse Saldivar. Barrow attempted to sidestep the question saying that a measure of his leadership can be seen in the many unity deals that he has brokered in at least five constituencies before the UDP even held their first convention.
Barrow also said that being a strong believer in democracy, he would leave the decision up to the people of Belmopan and shall respect whatever that outcome might be.
While Sunday will tell whether Barrow's public endorsement of Lovell will sway the support in his direction, Castillo, who has conducted polls in the past inclusive of an approval rating for the Mayor of Belmopan and the Area Representative Oscar Mira, which have both proven to be true, says he expects his predictions to come true on Sunday.