Juan Antonio Briceño
|Leader of the Opposition|
|Assumed office |
31 January 2016
|Governor General||Colville Young|
|Prime Minister||Dean Barrow|
|Preceded by||Francis Fonseca|
|Member of the Belize House of Representatives for Orange Walk Central|
|Assumed office |
30 June 1993
|Preceded by||Leopoldo Briceño|
Juan Antonio Briceño
17 July 1960
Orange Walk Town, British Honduras
|Political party||People's United Party|
|Residence||Orange Walk Town, Belize|
|Alma mater||St. John's College|
University of Texas
Juan Antonio Briceño, commonly known as Johnny Briceño (born 17 July 1960), is a Belizean politician who served as leader of the People's United Party (PUP), as well as the Leader of the Opposition, from 2008 to 2011. Previously, he was Deputy Prime Minister from 1998 to 2007. On February 8, 2016, Briceño again became Leader of the Opposition in Belize.
In 1993, Johnny Briceño was elected to the National Assembly as the representative for the Orange Walk Central division; in 1994 he ran in the municipal elections in Orange Walk Town and served as a member of the Town Council for two terms from 1994 to 2001.
In 1994 he was elected Co-Chairman of the People’s United Party; in 1996 he was elected to one of the two top positions, as Deputy Party Leader and he became the youngest Belizean ever to become Deputy Leader of the People’s United Party. Briceño served as Deputy Party Leader from 1996 until 2008 when he resigned and offered himself as a candidate for Party Leader. During his years as Deputy Party Leader Briceño and the PUP won national elections in 1998 and in 2003 and as the leader in the northern region the Party won more than 50 percent of their seats in the national as well as in local elections.
A decade in government, Johnny Briceño served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Natural Resources and the Environment. He also assisted the Prime Minister with many of his international obligations.
As a minister of government, he led efforts to modernize the Ministry of Natural Resources by implementing a computerized land management programme in Belize. As a result, thousands of Belizeans were able to acquire land titles and to register their properties. He also improved and enhanced the department of geology, increasing staff and hiring experts. This was an important decision and one which certainly help to play a role in the discovery of oil in Belize in commercial quantities.
As Minister of the Environment, Johnny Briceño led the way in the development of regional initiatives on environmental protection and sustainable management of the region’s natural resources. Today Central America and the Caribbean have joined forces on several initiatives to protect forests, keep the waters safe and clean and to work together in disaster planning and mitigation. Through his lobbying efforts, the Mesa-American Barrier Reef System project as well and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center have been established and working on regional efforts to mitigate against climate change and to look at the sustainable management of the resources of the regions. A native of Orange Walk Town, Briceño was first elected to the Belize House of Representatives from the Orange Walk Central constituency in 1993. He was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Commerce and Industry in 1998 after the PUP returned to power in the 1998 election. In August 2004 he led a group of ministers, known as the G-7 alliance, who made a number of reform demands, including the dismissal of Ralph Fonseca from the Cabinet. When Prime Minister Said Musa failed to meet these demands, the group resigned; however, Musa subsequently agreed to all of the demands except for the dismissal of Fonseca and the G-7 ministers remained in the Cabinet. Briceño was later one of the ministers who opposed Musa's proposal to settle the country's Universal Health Services debt; as a result of this, Musa attempted to demote Briceño from his position as Deputy Prime Minister, but Briceño refused to accept the lesser posts in the Cabinet that he was offered and instead resigned from the Cabinet on June 5, 2007.
At a national convention of the PUP in July 2007, Briceño was re-elected as one of the party's deputy leaders. In the February 2008 general election, in which the PUP was defeated, Briceño was re-elected in his constituency of Orange Walk Central; he was one of only six successful PUP candidates.
On March 30, 2008, Briceño was elected as the leader of the PUP at a party convention in Belmopan, succeeding Musa. He defeated Francis Fonseca, who was considered to be the candidate preferred by the party establishment, receiving 330 votes against 310 for Fonseca.
Citing unspecified health issues, Briceño abruptly resigned as both PUP and opposition leader in October 2011 without leading the party in a general election. He retained his seat in the National Assembly. He was succeeded in both leadership positions by Fonseca.
2015 recording incident
In March 2015, shortly after the PUP's decisive defeat in municipal elections, a recording was made public of Briceño sharply criticizing the 1998–2008 Musa government. In the recording, Briceño accused Musa and Ralph Fonseca of stealing "millions, tens of millions of dollars," and stated, "... had this been another country they would have been in jail right now." Briceño also claimed he went deeply into debt personally as PUP leader on the party's behalf, and blamed Francis Fonseca for losing the 2012 general election and local elections.
Briceño claimed the recording was made without his consent and refused to comment on it. Francis Fonseca characterized the incident as an "internal party matter."
- "Hon. John Briceño takes oath as Leader of the Opposition". The Belize Times. February 14, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
- Hon. Juan Antonio (Johnny) Briceno Archived 2014-09-24 at Archive.today. National Assembly (Belize). (accessed 23 September 2014)
- "Vildo is Deputy P.M. – Florencio replaces Johnny!", Amandala Online, June 5, 2007.
- Adele Ramos, "Musa and Ralph step down - PUP D-day March 30!" Archived 2010-02-24 at the Wayback Machine, Amandala Online, February 15, 2008.
- "Confirmed winners", Amandala Online, February 8, 2008.
- "Johnny stuns Francis in 'Pan!", Amandala Online, April 1, 2008.
- "Johnny Briceño steps down as Leader of the PUP", The San Pedro Sun, October 7, 2011. (accessed 23 September 2014)
- Ali, Marion. "CONfirmation!", The Reporter, 13 March 2015. (accessed 31 March 2015)