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Feb 14, 2020

B.N.T.U. Demanded Saldivar’s Resignation Since 2016

Elena Smith

The national president of the powerful Belize National Teachers Union Senator Elena Smith says that it is time to take action against corruption.  The B.N.T.U. is the latest body to speak out against the Saldivar scandal. In a matter of four days, Saldivar was stripped as leader elect of the U.D.P. and after a brief suspension, he resigned from cabinet responsibilities. Saldivar says he hopes that he regains the confidence of the public and the support of Cabinet once he has cleared his name. But that’s going to be very difficult now that the exchange of texts between Jacob Kingston and himself have come to light in which he requests the usual tranche of twenty-five thousand dollars from Lev Dermen. For the B.N.T.U., the decision to suspend him prior to his resignation is a mere slap on the wrist and unacceptable.


Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“It is appalling to say the least. You would know that BNTU from 2016 had called for the resignation of the said minister because of the Mason matter. We are now in 2020 and we have reached that point again so I guess because of the fact that he has resigned there will not be a call for him to be terminated. I think the important thing that we have to put out there is the fact that if it is that he is resign and tax payers’ monies will be used to pay him as he continues in his role as area representative, that is fine but if we are going to be paying him and he is longer there then that is a concern. I am saying if because we don’t know what will be the details when he leaves from there. Other than that the other concern as it relates to the impact or the black eye that it has cast on the country of Belize. We know that this is now international and it does not look good for us to have persons in these high positions to be accused of meddling in such behaviour.  You cannot just have a person at this highest person involved or allegedly involved in these sorts of behaviour and they get a slap on the wrist. It can’t continue to happen.”


Hipolito Novelo

“The Prime Minister, during his press conference, said that he would fire if one of the two aspirants for leadership would have been proven to be the somebody that had received cash.  John Saldivar, his name has been called in the U.S. District Court in Utah, text messages have been revealed and the Prime Minister has suspended him indefinitely and not necessarily fire Mr. Saldivar. What is the union’s take on that?”


Senator Elena Smith

“Well hence I have said people do these things and get a slap on the wrist. Because if you are saying that once these persons are proven, and I am sure that we have seen proof now, and what has kept the government from firing him.  We support an investigation and it is not just an investigation into his actions. Other names were called. We heard about the mayor in Belmopan and we heard the talk about getting monies for four other person. Who are those persons and what will happen to those persons? Is it that we will be shielding those persons forever? Investigation must happen and at the end of that swift actions must be taken. It cannot just be slight action that will be taken. It has to be something that will show that we will not tolerate these sorts of behaviour. It does not matter who it is.”


Hipolito Novelo

“Is the union considering joining the Opposition in their national demonstration in one or two weeks and do you believe that it is time for a national demonstration?”


Senator Elena Smith

“Again, as you know B.N.T.U. does not take part in political, partisan activities. From time to time we do know that when the Union have these actions that we joined by whoever is in opposition and we have no control over that. But for us to go out there and say we are joining them it is not something that we do. We do believe that action must be taken. Too many things have happened and our people have been very quiet. We have not taken a stance the way we ought to looking at what has happened. Whether we will be taking action and when it is a different matter.”

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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