Prime Minister Dean Barrow has announced changes to his Cabinet. The news of a special Cabinet sitting began circulating last night. Some had speculated that it had to do with the upcoming weather but by this morning we were hearing that there were rumblings in the Government’s Cabinet. Those rumours were confirmed at around eleven o’clock this morning while Cabinet was in session at the Administration Building in Belmopan. After waiting in the hot sun for the ministers to exit, we were informed that the Prime Minister would be holding a press conference to speak of the changes.
“Ministry of National Security will be divided into two, a standalone Ministry of Defense and a standalone Ministry of Police. The Ministry of Police will be headed by Senator Godwin Hulse so Senator Hulse becomes the new Minister of Police. Minister John Saldivar becomes the Minister of Defense. Minister Hulse continues as Minister of Immigration but gives up the lands ministry, the Natural Resources Ministry and to take over that ministry the Attorney General will be made a senator and then Minister of Natural Resources. As a press released indicated all other current ministerial assignments remain unchanged at this time.”
Last Friday during a press conference, Prime Minister Barrow had stated to the media that there is not sufficient reason or evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Minister John Saldivar to strip him of his portfolio or take any disciplinary measures. With the news of the Cabinet changes, the question on everyone’s mind was, ‘what did the Prime Minister find out?’ Without being asked he spoke of the reason behind the changes.
“Before I take your questions I should start by saying that I met with Minister Saldivar this morning before the special cabinet meeting, notice for that meeting only went out after 7pm last night. I’ve of course been reflecting on the situation for a while and spoke to you immediately after I came in on Friday at that time I indicated that the situation was still fluid, was still evolving. I had of course already been more than halfway towards the point where I knew that I would have to and in fact decided to take action. One thing tom make absolutely clear and then we can go straight into your questions. I said on Friday that at that juncture I was not prepared to move because optics aside I did not think that anything that Minister Saldivar did amounted to criminality or corruption. He was perhaps conned into this acquaintanceship/ friendship with this individual in the same way that many others including some additional ministers were. Nothing since Friday has occurred to make me depart from that point of view but as was made clear in the question and answer session we had on Friday the optics also include the fact that while I’ve not run a poll and while I don’t have any scientific evidence for saying this, the optics made clear that the public perception is that it is untenable for Minister Saldivar to continue to head the police ministry in the current circumstances.”
This is the second time that the Barrow administration has split the Ministry of National Security. The first time was on June 1, 2010. At that time, the National Security ministry was split with Doug Singh named Minister of Police and the current Cabinet Secretary, Carlos Perdomo given Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Defense, just as in 2010, will handle the Belize Defense Force and the Belize Coast Guard.