From early January when the allegations against John Saldivar began surfacing, several sectors were clamoring for an investigation. The Prime Minster, at the time, felt that there was nothing much to go on as there were only allegations and nothing more. Fast forward one month later and evidence has surfaced, Saldivar has won and lost the seat of Party Leader and has resigned from Cabinet. The unions and non-governmental agencies are now asking for a thorough investigation following the release of text messages between Saldivar and Jacob Kingston, a former business partner of Lev Dermen. The media met up with Senator Osmany Salas who represents the NGOs. According to Salas the investigation should look at any other politician who was involved in the Dermen scandal.
Senator Osmany Salas, Senator for NGO’s: “We are urging the government, the Prime Minister, to ask the Financial Intelligence Unit to do it’s investigation and investigate any other politician that may have been or might be implicated in this whole Dermen fiasco. That investigation is sorely needed and let the chips fall where they may and let the authorities do what they have to do but it’s not enough just to have – we did in our press release we did strongly urge the Prime Minister to relieve Honorable Saldivar from his cabinet portfolio and form cabinet and as you said he beat the Prime Minister to the punch, that was only one step. We need to investigate and take that all the way through to its conclusion.”
Joining the call for an investigation is the Belize National Teacher’s Union. BNTU’s President, Elena Smith, drew an analogy with the William Mason scandal that allegedly involved John Saldivar. Smith also spoke on the urgency for the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “It’s appalling to say the least and you are well aware that BNTU from 2016 had called for the resignation of said minister because of the Mason matter and we are now in 2020 and we have reached that point again. So I guess because of the fact that he has resigned then there would not be a call for him to be terminated anyway but I think one of the important things that we have to put out there is the fact that if it is that he is resigning and tax payers money will be used to pay him as he continues his role as area representative I supposed that is fine but if we are going to be paying him and he’s no longer then then that’s a concern and I’m saying if because we don’t know what will be the details when he leaves from there. Other than that the other concern as it relates to the impact or the black eye that it has caused on the country of Belize. We know that this is now international and it really doesn’t look good for us to have persons in these high positions to be accused of meddling in such behavior and so that is one that we do not condone any at all and we trust that the government, again it was the BNTU who called for the UNCAC to be signed on to but signing onto it is one thing implementing is the other thing and so as a union we want to insist that the government ensures that it is fully implemented, that we stop the pausing that has been happening and we seriously take a look at how we are going to fully implement UNCAC so that these types of things cannot occur anymore, that persons are held accountable for their actions. You cannot just have a person at this highest level involved or allegedly involved in these sorts of behavior and they get a slap on the wrist.”
In yesterday’s newscast, the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, confirmed that he met with the Prime Minister to speak about the proposed investigation into the matter. He went ahead and added that the investigation can only commence when the case ends and they receive the evidence presented in court.