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Feb 13, 2020

Saldivar’s Fall from Grace in 72 Hours

John Saldivar was elected as the next leader of the U.D.P. on Sunday at a convention with all the bells and whistles and he portrayed himself as the future of the party.  But all that soon came crashing down.  Within three days, he had lost the top U.D.P. post and suspended for an indefinite period from Cabinet. Twenty-four hours later, John Saldivar called it quits as Minister of National Security.  The decision to only suspend him from cabinet, triggered calls for his firing, suggesting that the Prime Minister did not do enough since the release of incriminating text messages in the Utah court that he took money from accused fraudster, Lev Dermen.  In the past, Saldivar had survived numerous scandals including one involving his relationship with accused murderer William “Danny” Mason, but the ongoing Dermen saga, turned out to be the last straw. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Lev Dermen

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The political maelstrom that swept through Cabinet over the past few days has left in its wake an acute self-consciousness for the U.D.P. government.  Prime Minister Barrow told Belizeans in mid-January that swift action would be taken should any member of his administration be found blameworthy for having accepted monies from accused fraudster Lev Dermen and then lied when asked about it in Cabinet. On Wednesday, he suspended John Saldivar indefinitely from Cabinet.  It followed an assertion made by Jacob Kingston that monies were paid to government officials on behalf of Dermen in an attempt to ultimately obtain diplomatic immunity.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The allegations contained assertions that Belizean officials were paid by Dermen and his associates in connection with Dermen’s efforts to obtain Belizean nationality, and a Belizean diplomatic passport and ambassadorial or consular status.”


Those allegations were substantiated on Tuesday when Kingston took the stand and testified in the courtroom of Judge Jill Parrish, providing evidence that monies were indeed paid out to National Security Minister John Saldivar during a transaction in Miami.


John Saldivar

John Saldivar

“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.”


He continues to do so, however, the string of text messages between Kingston and Saldivar was damning, corroborating the claim made against the Belmopan Area Representative.  That piece of evidence turned out to be the smoking gun that many, including PM Barrow, were anticipating.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The testimony given in the trial this Monday and Tuesday by one Jacob Kingston has proved, to say the least, explosive.  Kingston incriminated Minister John Saldivar, in particular, and produced text messages in support of his evidence relating to the allegations he made against Minister Saldivar.”


Since an emergency meeting held with Cabinet, as well as all thirty-one standard bearers of the United Democratic Party on Wednesday, Saldivar has turned in his resignation.  That was done earlier this afternoon when the Office of the Prime Minister received a formal letter in which Saldivar indicated that his departure was with immediate effect.  This comes hard on the heels of an indefinite suspension placed on him, as well as a request for Saldivar to abdicate his post as newly-elected leader of the United Democratic Party.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The U.D.P. will in due time choose a new Leader Elect for the party.”


There are no indications who that individual is, but a few names are already being mentioned, including the possibility that Deputy Party Leader Hugo Patt or Second Deputy Leader Beverly Williams may also be eyeing the coveted seat.


Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, United Democratic Party

“People can apply to be the leader and of course under the U.D.P. constitution anyone from the National Assembly can express their interest in becoming leader or now maybe the Honorable Hugo Patt or the Honorable Beverly Williams, having been elected on Sunday, could decide that they now want that leadership spot.”


In looking back, Saldivar’s fall from grace has been swift, sudden and hard, despite the fact that it was all predicted.  Had he come clean when asked by his colleagues if he accepted monies from Dermen, perhaps it would have been an entirely different outcome and his political career wouldn’t now be hanging in the balance.  Likewise, one cannot help but wonder what must be going through the minds of his many supporters, those who voted as delegates, as well as those who financed his campaign in hopes of collecting on those favors somewhere in the not too distant future.  All things said, Saldivar’s short-lived success at Sunday’s convention was nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory.  In the process of unseating Patrick Faber to become the next U.D.P. leader and prospective prime minister, he has lost everything, including his credibility and integrity.  In explaining his resignation, Saldivar says, quote, he will now give himself an opportunity to get out from under the cloud of suspicion resulting from the barrage of accusations leveled against him.  He expressed the hope of regaining the confidence of the public and the support of Cabinet once he has cleared his name. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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