By Hon. Gilroy Usher, Sr.
“When the going gets tough, put one foot in front of the other and just keep going. Don’t give up.”
― Roy T. Bennett
Two articles in the weekend issue of the Reporter newspaper “Those Major PUP Upsets & Those that Came Close” by reporter Marion Ali and “After 12 years …Enuf” by Ann Marie Williams failed to recognize the fact that by the hard work and perseverance year after year by yours truly who won the Port Loyola Division for PUP on Wednesday November 11, after it had been a UDP strong hold for 31 of 35 years and considered mission impossible by most political analysts.
Port Loyola was created in 1984 by the then PUP government three years after independence in 1981. UDP Henry Young won the seat for the next three general elections in 1984, 1989, and 1993. In his last two general elections, Henry Young defeated consecutively PUP George Dakers and PUP Dorla Bowman.
Prior to 2020 PUP has been victorious only once in the long history of Port Loyola. That victory for the PUP was in 1998 when Dolores Balderamos Garcia defeated Anthony Martinez by 700 votes.
In the following general elections in 2003, Anthony Martinez defeated Dolores Balderamos Garcia by 821 votes. With that victory, Martinez took back Port Loyola for the UDP and never looked back.
In the 2008, general election Anthony Martinez easily won Port Loyola as he defeated Oscar Rosado by 1,395 votes. With that huge victory the major political parties considered Martinez unbeatable in division. In political circles, it was considered political suicide to challenge Anthony Martinez in the area.
Nevertheless, having full confidence in my ability to flip the seat for PUP, I contested the 2012 general in Port Loyola and fell short by 799 votes.
Learning from my mistakes in that election, I continued the fight for social justice in the area the day after the 2012 polling. As a result of my continued hard work in the division, in the 2015 general elections, I came within 73 votes of defeating Anthony Martinez in Port Loyola where attorney Dickie Bradley said he had built a fortress.
Following that razor thin victory against me in the 2015 general elections, Anthony Martinez announced his retirement from electoral politics. He later made a feeble attempt to re-surface in the Pickstock division, where he was still badly beaten at the polls two Wednesdays ago.
Martinez’s successor in Port Loyola was Phillip “Superman” Willoughby, former member of the Belize City for 12 years. With the defeat of Willoughby by 803 votes in the general elections on Wednesday November 11, I ended the UDP’s 31 year stranglehold of Port Loyola. That was three consecutive terms 15 years from 1984 to 1998, and another 4 consecutive terms from 2003 to 2020.