John Saldivar is back in the news tonight as he is one of three men hoping to succeed Dean Barrow as the UDP’s Party Leader. We have been down this road before back in early February. In that first round Saldivar was up against Patrick Faber and won handsomely as the UDP’s leader elect. His fall from grace came within seventy two hours after that victory when Prime Minister Dean Barrow found that Saldivar had lied to him about accepting monies from US criminal, Lev Dermen. The news of Dermen’s contributions to Saldivar surfaced in January but Saldivar vehemently denied the allegations. Prior to February’s convention Prime Minister Dean Barrow led a press conference where he spoke on how the aspiring candidates could be disqualified from the race. For context we bring you the interview dated January 15.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “If any of the two leadership aspirants turns out to be somebody who received cash, I would fire that person and I believe that the party would absolutely disqualify such a person from proceeding with the leadership challenge because how will you get fired from the cabinet? Remember, if I choose to, I hold the whip hand you know. Recollect that I don’t need to go anywhere until the general elections are called. If I were to have to fire a leadership aspirant and the party says “Well, we don’t care that you fired the person, we will still elect that person and we will say, he must take over and lead us into the general elections.” well I will save them from their own folly you know because I will make it clear that cannot happen but we are really spinning wheels and getting into outlandish, theoretical scenarios. Man come on and be practical, if any of the leadership aspirants were to be fired by me before the leadership convention that’s the end of it. You must know that practically, that’s the end of it. What you are interested in is what would be done with a leadership aspirant who proves in quotation marks “guilty|” and I have told you and I can tell you again and I can say it a thousand times if you wish that is the fact. I aint going no place until I see what the results of the trial will be in terms of the evidence led you know ? Or alternatively I would have to get a solemn sacred promise from the leader elect, made in front of the Cabinet and backed up, in a way that I will explain, by the Cabinet if evidence emerged that he was the recipient of funds that he will resign and I would say to the Cabinet, I couldn’t force it, but I would expect that you would oblige him to resign for your own sakes otherwise just pack your bags, leave and hand over the government to the PUP.”
That statement was almost six months ago. Fast forward today and the fact is that Saldivar has admitted to receiving monies from Lev Dermen and he had lied to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Interestingly, while he was forced to resign as the Party Leader Elect and he was fired from the Cabinet, he is still being allowed to run in Sunday’s leadership race. According to UDP Chairman, Michael Peyrefitte, the vetting committee found no issue with Saldivar going a second round.
Hon. Michael Perefitte, UDP Party Chairman: “There was nothing in our view that prevented him from contesting for leadership. Whatever is out there then the delegates will decide whether or not that is not significant enough to them for them to vote for him or significant to them for them not to vote for him; that’s their choice. We, based on our investigation so far no laws were broken, he wasn’t accused of anything illegal in Belize and he is running to be the political leader of one of the mass parties of Belize – so we didn’t see anything there that would disqualify any of the candidates.”