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Feb 6, 2023

John Saldivar Returned as U.D.P. Standard Bearer for Belmopan

John Saldivar is back! On Sunday at the University of Belize Gymnasium in Belmopan, the embattled former U.D.P. Minister of National Security won the majority of votes to return as the standard bearer for the United Democratic Party in the City of Belmopan. It has been a tumultuous journey for the veteran politician following his defeat in the 2020 General Elections. Viewers will recall that the National Party Council overturned an initial decision to disallow Saldivar from contesting the convention. So on Sunday, a convention was held for the first time in almost two decades – Saldivar versus political newcomers Emil Torres and retired Colonel George Lovell. News Five’s Duane Moody was there and files this report.


John Saldivar

John Saldivar, U.D.P. Standard Bearer, Belmopan

“I, John B Saldivar, do solemnly swear that as United Democratic Party standard bearer for the Belmopan constituency, I will work diligently to bring victory to our United Democratic Party. I pledge to be true and faithful to the principles and ideals of the party. I will uphold the party’s constitution and will work hard to the very best of best of my judgement and ability so help me God.”


Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, U.D.P. Chairman

“After the ballots being cast today, four hundred and fifty-seven went for Mister Emil Torres, five hundred and twelve went for Colonel George Lovell and nine hundred and one went for John Saldivar.”


Duane Moody, Reporting

…and with that, John Saldivar was officially returned as the U.D.P. standard bearer for Belmopan and is now set to contest the next general election, whenever it is called. For almost two decades, Saldivar had enjoyed the party’s endorsement for that constituency. But the former party leader, and ex-Minister of National Security, has been at the center of a series of scandals, including a designation by the U.S. Department of State for involvement in significant corruption. But Saldivar showed up on Sunday unshaken by the controversies and instead expressed his confidence that he still enjoyed the support of the voters of Belmopan.


John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Candidate

“After suffering many setbacks in my political career I think this is the signal that we are back.”


Duane Moody

“Talk to us about the machinery because it is always the preparation that leads to the win.”


John Saldivar

“It has been wonderful. We’ve had a lot of volunteer work. Contrary to what some people may think, we don’t pay our campaigners to work; our campaigners volunteer. They do it because of two things. They know the service that I’ve been providing to their communities, their neighbourhoods where they live and they want us to return to that and they know the type of person that I am as a representative – a man to my word, I deliver, I have the compassion for the people and that’s what the people are crying out for.”


Political pundits say it is a considerable turnout for a convention, which commenced with a rush of persons filing into queues outside the UB Gymnasium. Just before midday, candidate Emil Torres was pumped as his machinery actively brought in those voters.


Emil Torres

Emil Torres, Candidate

“We got our people out there right now just bringing them in. Right now it kinda calm. Remember dah rice and beans time; people deh home, dehn just come out of church, dehn di take wah lee cool off di eat di rice and beans. Come one o’clock, we had wah head start ina di beginning so lef the rest. Noh worry about the noise of the market, we di check wi change.”


Retired Colonel George Lovell also threw his hat in the race. He was the C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Security under his opponent, John Saldivar. Lovell enjoyed the support of party leader Shyne Barrow and believed that Belmopan needed the change he would bring.


George Lovell

 (Ret’d) Col. George Lovell, Candidate

“The numbers were not as impressive as we are seeing it here today and I believe that the Belmopan voters are sending statement, a clear statement to say that listen we are prepared to come out here and decide who will be that U.D.P. standard bearer for Belmopan and I am feeling good about this because I am quite certain that you are looking at this person as we speak.”


The poll closed just after four p.m. on Sunday, and a total of thousand nine hundred and twenty-six votes were cast. The counting began immediately after that. Within an hour, unofficial results declared Saldivar, the winner. Feeling vindicated and accomplished, he spoke of the success.


John Saldivar

“It boils down to the love of the people and those politicians who don’t understand that won’t win elections in the fashion that I do.”



“In your mind does this terminal put to rest all that has been said about you?”


John Saldivar

“Well that’s not for me to decide. It’s for others who criticise me to decide to give it up. The people of Belmopan have spoken so if they still want to march like little Johnny against what everybody else is saying, that’s up to them.”


Defeated, Lovell and Torres exited the gym to congratulate Saldivar.


(Ret’d) Col. George Lovell

“The people have spoken and we have to respect what the people wants. This will not just be the end of George Lovell because there is a whole lot of me that the people have and I have to behind it.”


Emil Torres

“I respect the leader of the party, I respect John Saldivar. He is our standard bearer and I will support him. That dah di way it supposed to be; we are one party.”


Michael Peyrefitte

“Even though John Saldivar was victorious today, I mean he is a seasoned political. I think credit must also be given to Colonel Lovell and to Mister Torres who put up good fights given the fact that they were political novices, so to speak, in the game. So we applaud them as well. They came out hard and they put out their best and I hope to not see the last of them in politics.”


There were forty-four spoilt ballots. Duane Moody for News Five.

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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