It was some nineteen months ago that John Saldivar was faced with the Lev Dermen scandal. He was accused of lying to the then Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, and was left out in the cold after the US court in Utah provided evidence that Saldivar was receiving monies from Dermen as campaign financing. Saldivar was pretty much mum at the time and would only say that he was innocent and had done nothing wrong; that changed today. In a press conference held at the UDP Headquarters, Saldivar claimed that Barrow was indeed aware of the monies coming in from Lev Dermen. It is explosive as it is a complete contradicition to the narrative back in 2020. Here is how Saldivar made his claim to the media and the nation as the event was streamed LIVE.
John Saldivar, Former Belmopan Area Representative: “I spent the last few days trying to get some finances to finish up my pig farm project and to get into production so that I can sustain my family and pay my bills. Which posterboy of corruption would have to do that ? I am still struggling to pay my mortgage. Which poster boy of corruption would have to do that ? I’m still paying the car note for my car. Which poster boy of corruption would have to do that ? I repeat again I have never accepted a bribe and have never been a part of any corrupt scheme. I say now though that I had informed the Prime Minister prior to that fateful Cabinet meeting that I had been receiving campaign contributions from Lev Dermen. I did not come out to clear my name because to do so woul have put my in contradiction with my Prime Minister and what he had said at that fateful press conference. I start off with this introduction because as recent as yesterday one of my colleagues, my own colleagues referred to me as I referred to myself earlier ‘the poster boy for corruption.’ and gave this as the reason for supporting my opponent in Belmopan. I also start of with this because this is the reason for me being excluded and alienated from my party since November last year. And of course the fact that I lost by two thousand votes, a similar amount from which I had recovered a couple decades before.”
Reporter: You are saying that your former Prime Minister –
John Saldivar, Former Belmopan Area Representative: “You have the recording Jules.”
Reporter: Well and knew – I have the recording of what he said at the press conference.
John Saldivar, Former Belmopan Area Representative: “You have the recording of what I said this morning go and review it. I will answer no further question on that review the recording. I have said what I have said.”
As we noted, Saldivar’s comments contradicts the narrative from last year. We take you back to January 15, 2020 when Dean Barrow addressed the media on the Lev Dermen matter.
Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize [ Jan.15, 2020 ] : “I have asked ministers squarely ‘did you get any money from this gentleman.” they have told me no.”
That was in January; a few weeks later John Saldivar won the UDP Leadership convention and continued proclaiming his innocence on the matter.
John Saldivar, February 09, 2020: “I know that there’s nothing that’s gonna come from that that’s gonna affect me in any negative way. I’ve always maintained my innocence.”
Saldivar served the shortest stint in history of UDP leadership as a few weeks after beating Patrick Faber, evidence came out of a Utah courtroom implicating him with Lev Dermen; that was when Barrow took action against him.
Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize: “Ministers had sworn to Cabinet that none of them had taken any money from Dermen and associates. I said in Cabinet at the time and later at a press conference that any minister subsequently proven indeed to have taken money and therefore to have lied to Cabinet would have to leave the Cabinet. That time for leaving in view of what happened Monday and Tuesday in Salt Lake City Utah, that time has unfortunately come.”
In this morning’s press conference, Saldivar presented no evidence that Barrow was aware that Dermen was financing his campaign. It is pretty much Saldivar’s words against Barrow’s. The problem is that Barrow is not willing to comment. Our newsroom reached out to him for comment but all he would say is, quote, “I have no comment. I am retired from politics and I refuse to get involved.” End of quote.