John Saldivar – he is the UDP member who will go down in history for having retained the seat of Party Leader for less than 72 hours. Allegations of corruption have been written in Belize’s history annals against Saldivar which subsequently led to his resignation as a Government Minister. With all this, however, Saldivar has no intention of leaving the political arena as he is seeking another term as Area Representative for Belmopan. After having evaded the media for years, Saldivar made an appearance today on the Morning Show where he spoke on several issues ranging from the Lev Dermen scandal to government reform. As it relates to the Dermen trial and the revelations coming out of a courtroom in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saldivar has since admitted to taking monies from Dermen in the name of campaign financing. Saldivar says he wasn’t keeping track of how much monies he got but he says that the monies were spent on his constituency.
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “I think what we can also discuss is how these funds were used in my community and in my politics because as far as I am concerned ,like I said earlier, all of it was spent on the people.”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Well sir the thing is though, I will say this, you’re here this morning trying to clear your name and you’re telling me that you may not need to do that because the people don’t have a problem with you it’s the media who has a problem with you.
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “Well I’m saying the media has created a certain perception.”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: We could agree to disagree on that. That’s not here or there at this point in time.
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “But can you agree with me that there was no evidence that came out in trial that I was bribed ? Can you agree with me and face the public and tell them that ?”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Well the word ‘bribe’ was not used. I agree the word bribe was not used but in that exchange you were asked ‘how do I send the money? Do I wire it?’ You said ‘No that is not -‘ so but like you said they brought the money in for you, you never broke any laws, bringing more than the money, the FIU is here they all knew what you were doing basically.
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “I didn’t say FIU knew I’m saying I didn’t break any law.”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Right. You did not bring any money into the country illegally.
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “For the benefit of the public and for yourself; any investor that comes into Belize is able to bring cash into the country as long as they declare it and as long as there’s a declared purpose for it whether it be pocket money, spending money. People who come here, rich business people who come here on vacation say for a week bring loads of money if that is how they wish to pay for their expenses and they declare that and if during that time when they meet a politician they say ‘Okay here, hold on to something here.’ they already have the money in the country so it’s not like if it’s anything illegal and like I said and I believe all politicians will have to agree with this, all of us go to try to solicit funds to pay for our expenses in our constituencies that is par for the course in politics all of us do it. If we want to talk about streamlining or we want to talk about setting certain rules in how you do that I believe that that discussion must be had.”
Late Friday evening Saldivar issued a statement where he wrote on his rationale for lying to the Cabinet and the people of Belize. This morning, he was asked to expound on the statement of leaving his colleagues demoralized had he backed out of the leadership convention.
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: You said here you did it because ‘ I would have been removed from cabinet and I would have had to withdraw from the race. Patrick Faber would have been declared the winner and that would have left all of my colleagues demoralized and exposed.’, what did you mean by that ?
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “Demoralized and exposed, that’s what I meant by it.”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Who ? That Faber was obviously the wrong person –
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “I am not going to get into that discussion. I think Ernesto, people understand what I have said and I will not open any wounds with respect to myself and my colleague. I have made my statement, I believe that what would have happened had I stepped back would have been detrimental to my colleagues and to my party. I still hold that and that’s the end of that story. I will not —
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: No but I mention that because it’s not the end of the story because right now Belize is in limbo. The leaders they don’t – and I have to come back to this and you mention the public’s opinion but the public right now, and all over is what’s going to happen next ? So what’s the situation? You will obviously still run for —
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “I have told you and you will not get it out of me. I’m waiting for my party to decide on the way forward.”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: But this is the future of our country and you are an elected official who needs to disclose to the people what you think should happen. You want to be the leader of Belize, you want to be the next Prime Minister. This is not about your party.
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security:“Ernesto it hardly matters at this time what I want because it has to be what my party wants and so I am waiting and you will not get me to move from that position. I am waiting for my party to decide how they will move forward.”
While the Prime Minister removed Saldivar as Party Leader and had suspended him from Cabinet due to the testimonies coming out of Salt Lake City, Utah, Saldivar says there is no proof and that he has done nothing wrong.
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “That is why I started out in saying that the biggest damage that was done to my reputation was this narrative that I did something wrong and that I was a part of bribery and corruption. This was said that this gentleman was going to prove that, he has not and he has not even mentioned it. So yes I will take that story far and wide because when you’re faced with the facts, what was alleged cannot alter anything once you now face with the facts. This is allegations, allegations have now turned out to be false so I am supposed to take some kind of punishment for somebody alleging something that I didn’t do, proven now that I didn’t do it and I still must suffer some- no man I think we’re really turning justice on its head when you do that.”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Okay I’ll take that point but aren’t you a part of a bigger picture —
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “My party will make the assessment and I’m not getting there.—-“
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: The bigger picture is not your party, the bigger picture is your country —-
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “and the country will make that assessment at general elections.”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: What do you call corruption because obviously I’m hearing, like you said, coming out smelling like roses and all that.—
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “No, no, that was a comparison Ernesto, that was a comparison. When we compare PUP to UDP all I’m saying we come out smelling like roses. Again this is not saying that we are pious, we are innocent , we are human beings but compared to – and I don’t even want to start talking about all that they have been accused of that’s the comparison–“
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: But that’s their problem and they have to fight that. They also have a problem with the country with that and we know that and we know that fact.
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “Remember you asked me if we stand a chance of winning against the PUP and I am saying that as long as it’s against the PUP we will beat them.”
As we pointed out earlier, Saldivar is intent on staying in politics and he is hoping to do that by being re-elected in Belmopan as the Area Representative. As a matter of fact, Saldivar says he is confident that he will garner the majority support from the Belmopan voters.
Tanya Hulse, Host, The Morning Show: I know you said that you’re secured in your constituency and that perhaps might very well be the case but do you think on a broader perspective in terms of a national level people think that perhaps your political persona has been assassinated and how much of that ?
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “That was the attempt. Just to make a point to you that all the way leading up to the convention that was what was being hammered, this bribery and corruption and ‘John Saldivar involved in bribery and corruption’ I still won the convention handsomely.”
Tanya Hulse, Host, The Morning Show: And that leads me to what I wanted to ask you because I know you said in a statement, I can’t recall when but you alluded to the fact that there were people within and outside of your party that you felt were conspiring to create this perception that you were of this particular character. So then perhaps maybe instead of denying the allegations from the onset, and I don’t want to go —
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “Go back and rehash because I took a certain strategy Tanya and Ernesto, I took a certain strategy to win the convention because I knew whilst I was doing the campaign that it wasn’t about the public, it was about five hundred and seventy delegates. I took my message to them.”
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: “Was there any manipulation of that like buying those votes ?
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “No, no I took my message to them. They are the ones that heard my message, directly from me and they believed me and that’s why when they went there on the February 9th they supported me in overwhelming numbers. I regret it and that stands, I regret not disclosing to Cabinet and to the public.”
Tanya Hulse, Host, The Morning Show: Do you think you owe the Belizean public an apology ?
John Saldivar, Former Minister of National Security: “That’s what I’ve said in my release and that’s what I’m saying now to the Belizean public that I regret that bad judgment in terms of not disclosing. I knew from the beginning that there was nothing illegal that I had done and I had always said that, I knew from the very beginning that it was just innocent campaign contribution. I was wrong in thinking that I should not disclose it at that time, I should have and that if there is a mistake – and that’s not a crime- but if there is a mistake that I’ve made that is the mistake that I’ve made. But I am here to say categorically no bribery, no corruption and that is what the narrative that was being sold to the people. I went to my delegates and I told them ‘No sir that is not the case, no bribery, no corruption.’ I didn’t come on Love FM and I didn’t go on the media to carry that story because I felt it wasn’t necessary at that time. I spoke to my delegates and they believed.”
Saldivar is going against PUP’s Oscar Mira in the next general election. We will have more from Saldivar later on in the news.