The United Progressive Party Celebrates “30 Years and UPPwards”

The United Progressive Party (UPP) is extremely proud to acknowledge and celebrate its 30th Anniversary in this month of April 2023.

The UPP enjoys the distinction of being the only political party to have survived against the monolithic Antigua Labour Party (ALP) – and gone on to take and hold the reins of Government for 10 successive years.  

“This is a feat of which all members, supporters, friends and well-wishers ought to be extremely proud,” says Dr. W. Baldwin Spencer, Founding Member, former Political Leader and past Prime Minister.

Formed in 1993 out of an amalgamation of three political parties – the PLM, the UNDP, and the ACLM – the UPP first contested General Elections in 1994, and, a decade later, came to office in a convincing defeat of the ALP, led by Lester Bird.

It ushered in a period of good governance and transparency described as “Government in the Sunshine,” and it ushered in several programmes that supported its “People First” mantra; innovative solutions to age-old problems; and legislation that held politicians accountable to the people.

Starting today, Wednesday, April 26, the Party will trace its 30-year journey to the present, highlighting its many achievements; paying tribute to those who built and continue to build the institution; and celebrating the light it brought into thousands and thousands of lives.

Today, on Progressive 107.3 FM, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, several members will look back at the early years – the founders, the influencers, and the officers of the Party; pay tribute to those who have gone on to glory, including Sir George Walter; Dr. Ivor Heath; Leonard “Tim” Hector; Charlesworth Samuel; and Frankie Nunes; discuss the roles played by the Youth Arm and the Women’s League; recall pickets, protests and marches; analyze the political and social forces that propelled the UPP in 2004; and examine the contributions of Observer Radio, Crusader Radio, and the Church in the political fight.

This discussion will feature Gatesworth James; Gregory Walter, Senior; and Alister Thomas, and will be hosted by Dame D.Gisele Isaac.

Later today, Wednesday, at 12:30 p.m., on Observer Radio, Founding Member and former Minister of Agriculture Hilson “Brother B” Baptiste and Senate Minority Leader Shawn Nicholas will join the hosts of Voice of the People, Paul Quinn and Franz deFreitas, to continue the review of the UPP’s three decades.

They will identify the factors supporting the Party’s longevity and the significance of its years in a democratic society.  They will also look at the changing face of politics – the players, the social issues, and the political values, from 2004 to present, and examine the emergence of both women and youth in the Party.

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Progressive FM, Dame Gisele will be joined by Founding Member and former Deputy Political Leader Willmoth Daniel.

Their discussion of women’s contributions to the UPP will celebrate the election of Dr. Jacqui Quinn – the first female to sit in the House of Representatives – and the elevation of a number of women to positions of power and influence.  

These include former Governor-General Dame Louise Lake-Tack; former Senate President Dame Hazlyn MasonFrancis; former Police Commissioner Delano Christopher; former Ambassador Joan Underwood, and former House Speaker Isaac, among others.

The changing faces and roles of the Women’s Forum and the innovations that women have championed and refined will also be reviewed by Executive Members Patricia Tully and J.Valerie Hodge.

Later that day, from 2 to 3 p.m. on Observer Radio, Dave Lester Payne will sit down with Spencer and Leon Chaku Symister to discuss the Party’s impressive legacy and People-First achievements in 10 years.

They will look at the social programmes the UPP introduced, including the famous School Meals and School Uniform Grant; the Cuban Eye Care programme; the Dollar Barrel; and the Zero-rated Basket of Goods – as well as the minimum salary increases of 17% for public servants.

Other innovations, including the Homecoming Festival, which fostered greater involvement by the Diaspora; the Independence Banquet; and the passing of the Barbuda Land Act will be touched upon.

The UPP’s improvements and additions to the infrastructure will be enumerated: the construction of the Parliament Building; the Sir Vivian Richard Cricket Ground & Stadium; the new airport terminal; the Five Islands Secondary School; the Fisheries Complexes …

The completion of the Mount St. John Medical Centre and the National Public Library…

The planning and introduction of the new Treasury Building; the ADOMS Building; the Knuckleblock Community Centre…

The conversion of Swetes and Glanvilles Primary Schools into secondary institutions…

And the highway-lighting project; the refurbishing of miles of road in Antigua and the paving of roads on Barbuda; as well as the beautification and regular cleaning of St. John’s City.

Finally, on Friday, April 28, on Observer AM, between 7:15 and 7:45 a.m., UPP Public Relations Officer Damani Tabor will catalogue the Gaston Browne Administration’s dismal failures in the first 100 days of its new term, branded 100 Days of Darkness and Decline.

In contrast, from 9 p.m. to midnight, the Party will recognize its 100 Days of Light, symbolized by its six Members of the House of Representatives.  

The UPP MPs and other Members of the Redeem Team will spend those three hours in The Snake Pit with deFreitas, reviewing their post-election experiences and constituency concerns and bringing greater light to bear on the Administration’s mishandling of the country.

This discussion will be carried forward into The Snake Pit on Saturday, April 29, starting at 3 p.m.  During that session, any additional activities leading up to the Labour Day Ceremonies and March with the Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union will be announced.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to tune in to the various radio programmes and support the on-the-ground activities.

The celebration of “30 Years and UPPwards” and 100 Days of Light culminates on Monday afternoon, May 1, at Ffryes Beach.

But, in the meantime, the UPP is inviting members and supporters to post photos, videos and mementoes of Party figures, events, and activities on their Facebook pages and link them to the MYUPP page with the hashtag #ThrowbackThirty.

Finally, the United Progressive Party says a heartfelt “Thank You” to all who have been with us on this grueling but rewarding journey of 30 years.  

With your help and God’s favour, blue skies and illuminating sunshine will return and bless our beloved Antigua and Barbuda for the next 30!