With less than 48 hours left for the UDP Convention on Sunday, it is anybody’s guess who will be the new party leader. At some points in the last few months, things seemed in favour of Faber and then there were some instances where Saldivar seemed to be ahead in the race with the support from the majority of the Cabinet members. Saldivar, however, unlike Faber has had multiple scandals brought to the forefront. This is one of the issues discussed among media members earlier today.
Jules Vasquez, News Director, Channel 7: “There are big decision makers in the party who are so intent on having John Saldivar elected that they are trying, forgive the crude analogy, to fit a fat man through the eye of a needle. And I’m not referring to any physiological state of being, far be it from me to do that but I mean that it is untenable, impractical and unwise to have someone who is at the center of so much suspicion of wrongdoing- unproven-but in politics perception is fact and the man is dogged by a very negative perception based on the goings on in the courts in Belize and in Utah. So I’m saying that while the Prime Minister keeps saying ‘Well I don’t have proof.’ I understand one needs a standard of proof but in politics there is such a political risk when you have a candidate who by being associated with so many little conspiracies becomes himself a political risk that it’s untenable. So anybody in their rational mind will say ‘Boy let’s wait to hear what comes out of Utah.’ but rationality is not at a very high premium right now in the UDP. The UDP is operating, and I’ve seen it in the PUP, is operating against all political practical thoughts I believe.”
In addition to the multiple scandals that follow Saldivar, there is the matter of his anti-media behavior. His interviews with any media house have been limited despite the portfolio he holds which entails the security of Belize’s land, air, and sea.
Renee Trujillo, News Director, Love News: “John Saldivar has evaded the media for months and months and months-“
Jules Vasquez, News Director, Channel 7: “Refused every interview, multiple requests.”
Renee Trujillo, News Director, Love News: “I could remember one time there was a Coast Guard graduation. I went to the Coast Guard graduation, asked him for an interview ‘I’m sorry I’m not prepared to speak to the media.’ I remember one time I texted him and I still have the text in my phone asking him for a comment I don’t remember what scandal he was caught up in at that point but I don’t remember what it is but I texted him – ‘No I will not be giving any interviews.’ He constantly denies the media any kind of interview.”
Jules Vasquez, News Director, Love News: “I think how that really important thing that we have the principle that all public figures, and we argued with the Belize City Mayor about this, as you see me you give me; you are answerable to us because of who we represent and so it is the standard all over the world that a public official when he meets the press has to answer and the Prime Minister has more or less lived up to that- I would say 90% of the time. I’m just saying that’s the standard of public accountability that is non-negotiable and John Saldivar has consistently failed to live up to that. He is, you can safely say anti media.”
Faber has not been exempted from scandal. While Saldivar’s international friends of questionable characters have brought his character into question, Faber’s domestic issues brought his candidacy into question. As it relates to his openness with the media, he has been known to be media-friendly and almost always ready for interviews but only with selective reporters.
Marisol Amaya, News Director, KREM: “Faber has actually reached this point where he denies interviews out-rightly to Hipolito and to myself. I even remember one occasion – and that’s because he’s lumping one member of an organization together with the entire organization so because of what is said on a talk show ‘I noh di talk to Krem.’ but I am not on the WUB.”
Jules Vasquez, News Director, Channel 7: “And he bex with Polo because of that speech he gave up at the Marion Jones.”
Marisol Amaya, News Director, KREM: “And so he’s like we’re biased in our reporting and whatnot and I remember one time where he had granted an interview to Renee and because of the relationship that I have with Renee I asked and Renee said ‘You can join in the interview.’ Faber didn’t have a problem because the interview had started with Renee. Renee had to leave for her twelve thirty news so it was me who continued doing the interview. I put in about two more questions, and I’m going to ask the questions that I want to ask, and after a couple questions he said he will not continue with the interview and walked off. So now though you see where he’s gone on the talk shows and you remember the day coming down the National Assembly at the last House meeting what he said.”
Jules Vasquez, News Director, Channel 7: “Yes he refused to do an interview, only if I led the interview, he wouldn’t do it with you.”
Marisol Amaya, News Director, KREM: Exactly but now there seems to be a shift and he’s not confrontational anymore right ahead of the convention all of a sudden this guy changes his stance in terms of how he engages the media.”
Jules Vasquez, News Director, Channel 7: “I agree that over all it’s extremely concerning that any person elected to high office, especially the highest office has to be completely, you have to have “as you see me you give me.” is the engagement; you can’t be picking your spots and pick your reporters that is Trumpian.”
Marisol Amaya, News Director, KREM: “There’s an interesting thing I think depending on how things unfold on Sunday if Saldivar doesn’t win we may not get an interview at all to question him about everything that’s been said.”
Jules Vasquez, News Director, Channel 7: “The last time he lost as the deputy he did not appear at the ITVET.”