John Saldivar’s candidacy is denied by the UDP’s Special Committee; LOO says he is pleading with Saldivar to retire
John Berchman Saldivar will not be allowed to run as a candidate under the United Democratic Party (UDP) banner. Last month, Saldivar and his immediate family were designated by the US Department of State after he was accused of “significant corruption” while in office. In light of the allegations, UDP Leader, Moses “Shyne” Barrow, established a special committee of senior party members to determine whether Saldivar was fit to run for the UDP. Today, the former Minister appeared before that committee, and at the end of the meeting, he was informed that he could not offer himself as a candidate for the UDP. This afternoon Barrow summoned the media for an impromptu press conference at the Party’s headquarters where he briefed reporters.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, UDP Party Leader: “The special committee was not in search of a perfect justice that we were not pretending to be the Supreme Court of Belize or the Magistrate’s Court but we were in search of our perfect commitment to the Belizean people. We were an continue to be in search of that regain of trust, that regain of confidence from the Belizean people and that all of our considerations had to put the institution and the message that the institution wanted to send to the Belizean people as the government in waiting whether or not we are ready to take the reins and lead the country in a direction away from the endemic corruption that has plagued Belize for the last forty one years. And I am pleased that the special committee has made a decision that indicates clearly to the nation and to the world that the United Democratic Party has a zero tolerance for endemic corruption, has a zero tolerance for any of our members that will engage repeatedly in personal misconduct or acts that even bring the scrutiny and the allegations of corruption. And this is what the special committee has said with it’s decision today for everyone to appreciate and to understand that the UDP, this era of the UDP has a zero tolerance for corruption.”
While the committee has voted against Saldivar, the former minister is not going down without a fight and is hoping for a second chance. This evening Saldivar issued a statement saying he has been informed of the decision and will be making an appeal to the National Party Council. Saldivar says that quote) “The final decision lies with the NPC and I, therefore, await the decision of that august body.” (end of quote) However, Barrow says he is pleading with Saldivar to use the opportunity to completely retire from the political arena.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, UDP Party Leader: “In my conversations with the media I’ve never said that this was black and white and that it was a matter of if they have the evidence then we would make a decision if they don’t well as some may have speculated that this was a kangaroo court and you know we were just going through the motions because there’s no sufficient legal or technical evidence. There is a mountain of circumstantial evidence of allegations of significant corruption all the way back to when Prime Minister Barrow moved Mr.Saldivar according to Mr.Saldivar himself from the Ministry of Immigration where his sister remained the CEO of Immigration and corruption continued in immigration. It is my position as the duly elected leader of the United Democratic Party that John Saldivar should not run for the UDP and should withdraw from politics in the position as an area representative or a standard bearer and deal with all of the matters that have befallen him and I think a retirement from politics at this time is the wise decision. Allow for the new breed, the new era to go forward. I’m sure his wisdom, his advice for the good things that he has done, the good things he has done for the party, the good contributions he has made to the party since the time of Manuel Esquivel Prime Minister of Belize he served Esquivel at RECONDEV before he became an area representative, he served Prime Minister Barrow I am grateful to Mr.Saldivar for all of his contributions to the party but it is my firm belief that the decision made by the special committee signals the end of his political career as an area representative of any official of the party.”
Barrow had recently endorsed Saldivar for the post of Western Region Coordinator, a position that Saldivar still holds. In the run-up for that election, Barrow joined Saldivar on the campaign trail and referred to him as a man of the people. The two have had a close relationship since Barrow became party leader but that relationship has now deteriorated. Today, Barrow was asked to discuss the change of heart he has had with support for Saldivar. Here is his response.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, UDP Party Leader: “It is a fluid situation. It has developed and I bumped my toe but I kept walking but then my toe is starting to rot. Do I say well I was walking two weeks ago and I’m still walking now but you know my toe is rotting and it’s peeling and it’s falling apart don’t I go to the doctor and get a diagnosis and if the doctor says you have a cancer in your toe do I say but I could still walk Doc and you know I was walking a few weeks ago or do I accept where the situation is now ? I am big on reform. I am big on rehabilitation. I am big on redemption. I am big on second chances so while others were not prepared to give Mr.Saldivar a second chance, an opportunity to redeem himself I had no difficulty with that because I have been in a position where I needed the people in Mesopotamia, the people of this country to give me an opportunity to prove myself. So I did that and you made mention of it. I did it unreservedly. I was not trying to be fancy. I was wholeheartedly behind this opportunity for redemption and it didn’t work out. Not my fault. Not anyone’s fault the reality is the reality. We have now a situation where there is a designation by the United States Department, there is a criminal investigation by the Commissioner of Police it is just too much for the party to continue to carry. We have carried it, I have carried it, I have done my best to masterfully reimage it, reposition it and I have to accept when the end of that road has come.”