August 21, 2004 – As the Republican delegation from the Virgin Islands boards a plane to attend the 38th Republican National Convention in New York City, Edward L. Browne, the hunger striker who recently gained national attention will join them.
Jim Oliver, Republican Party state chairman for the Virgin Islands, said delegates and alternates were chosen in April, however, a cancellation by one of the alternates opened a spot for Browne to attend in an official capacity. "It's a rare opportunity," said Oliver. Oliver said Browne had already planned to attend the convention as a private citizen. "Each member of the delegation pays for their own airline tickets, so, to attend, a person must have the resources and be able to take the time off," said Oliver.
The Republican National Convention will take place at Madison Square Gardens, Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. This is the first time the Republican convention will be held in New York City, the Democrats have held five conventions in that city.
At the convention, Lilliana Belardo de ONeal, will cast nine votes for President George W. Bush and Vice-President Richard B. Cheney on behalf of V. I. Republicans. In her 3-minute speech V.I. national committeewoman will refer to Brownes hunger strike and ask that the territories be given the right to vote for president of the United States of America. It is anticipated that close to 48,000 people will attend the convention.
On Aug. 2, Browne began a hunger strike that would last for twelve days. During his fast, his cause was reported on several major radio, newspaper and television stations, gaining national attention. Browne received responses from the White House and the campaign camp of Democratic nominee John Kerry. (See "Officials' Responses Prompt an End to Hunger Strike").
Oliver said that security clearance for Browne had to be fast tracked. "Things are not as easy as they were four years ago," Oliver remarked. Oliver said that all delegates, alternates and media have to have a special security pass to enter the Garden and a security photo ID with a number that is scanned to enter the convention floor. The Department of Homeland Security has designated the Convention a national special security event.
This will be Browne's first foray into organized politics. Oliver sees a bright future in politics for Browne. "Mr. Browne is very refreshing, as a young man he feels that he can make a difference."
The list of Virgin Islanders who will be attending the Republican Convention follows.
Lilliana Belardo de ONeal, Rules, Delegate Chairperson
Holland L. Redfield, II, Bush Appointed Whip
James M. Oliver, Rules & Phone Person
Samuel J. Baptiste, Platform
Reuben Fenton, Credentials
Humberto ONeal, Rally Person
Lawrence T. Boschulte Permanent Organization
April M. Newland, Platform
Patricia G. Murphy, Community Service Program
Tracy Pardo de Zela, Permanent Organization
Herbert L. Schoenbohm, Public Relations
Edward L. Browne
Mytsooko King, Credentials
Delegate Aide, John R. Richards
Alternate Delegate Aide, Bobbie L. King.
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