Belmopan’s Area Representative, John Saldivar, owner of the Bandits Sports has been taking much criticism lately surrounding the use of the Belize Coast Guard vessels to transport the players to their games in San Pedro. Members of the opposition have referred to is as an abuse of his position since he is the Minister with responsibility for the Belize Coast Guard. Earlier today the Ministry of Defence issued a government release which reads, in part, “Ministry makes clear that the deployment of armed forces assets are the responsibility of the Commanders of the armed forces who are completely aware of the purpose of which they are to be used. In cases where these assets are donated for the primary use of deterring and detecting illegal activities which are in line with the Defence Mandate, the commanders of BCG and Belize Defence Force (BDF) may deploy them for other activities as they see fit, providing that these activities do not contravene any local or international laws or military standing orders. The Ministry of Defence has always been an avid supporter of the sporting community as it sees healthy competitive sports as a way to enhance leadership and to promote unity amongst the youth and sporting enthusiasts’ countrywide. As such both the BDF and the BCG have entered teams in various sporting disciplines and have established partnerships within the sporting community of Belize.” End of quote. Social media has been buzzing with comments both for and against the use of the vessels. Some say that they were not acquired for such purposes while others are saying they support the Government’s contribution to sports in that manner. There is also the criticism that Minister John Saldivar is only allowing this contribution to sports because it involves his personal Bandits team. In his defense, Saldivar noted that they have also done the same for the team, Smart Hurricanes. One local media had asked the US Embassy for their input on the situation considering that they have contributed significantly in acquiring the vessels for the Belize Coast Guard. Their response was, quote, “The U.S. Government has provided boats to the Belize Coast Guard. The primary purpose of these vessels is to deter and interdict criminal activity, particularly in support of counter-narcotics efforts.” End of quote.