BELIZE CITY–The Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) held a National Executive meeting this morning at its Independence Hall headquarters at which it decided to suspend the Belize Rural North constituency standard bearer, attorney Arthur Saldivar, who was recently catapulted into the national spotlight with an allegation that he commandeered $900,000 from a former client, Melonie Coye.
There is, however, no claim filed at the Supreme Court Registry, and neither has Saldivar been served with any notice of a civil action, for which he would have been mandated to provide a defense to the court before a trial date is set.
Attorney Eamon Courtenay, S.C., who is representing Melonie Coye, had said that Saldivar would have a chance to explain the allegation against him to a Supreme Court judge. Presently, the Supreme Court is on vacation until its next session, which starts in October.
While the issue may be litigated in the future, the political fallout for Saldivar appears to be immense, because the PUP has moved against him due to the seriousness of the allegation.
Arthur Saldivar, the man whose political fate now appears to hang in a delicate balance, walked past reporters in front of the party’s Queen Street headquarters, snuffed out an expensive cigar and walked upstairs to where the PUP executive meeting was being held.
He quickly came back downstairs, however, and when asked to make a statement, Saldivar said, “Well, the outcome is of no importance at this time. Just suffice it to say that the people of Rural North have a champion to fight on their behalf.”
Then borrowing a line from the late Rt. Hon. George C. Price, Saldivar added, “When it’s time to talk, we’ll talk,” and with his trademark grin, he slipped out of Independence Hall in the company of his campaign manager, Linsford Castillo.
Shortly after Saldivar made his hasty departure, PUP Leader Francis Fonseca emerged at the main entrance where reporters were gathered and he made a statement, saying: “We just interrupted our meeting of the National Executive to offer a brief statement, because I was made to understand that you all have been waiting out here.”
“I think you have been made aware of the fact that at its meeting of the National Executive today the People’s United Party has discussed the issue of Belize Rural North and the candidacy of Mr. Arthur Saldivar, our standard bearer in that area,” Fonseca prefaced his remarks to reporters.
“We had a very robust discussion and at the end of that discussion the Party took the decision that Mr. Arthur Saldivar would be suspended as a candidate for the People’s United Party in Belize Rural North from all party activities, pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation that the party is carrying out, into the very serious allegation that has been made in respect of certain monies that he took [from a client] and has not returned,” Fonseca explained. “The media is aware of that allegation,” he added.
Fonseca said that investigation has been ongoing and they expect that investigation to be concluded and a report to be delivered to himself and the National Executive by September 12.
“The Party will then convene a meeting of the National Executive on September 17, at which time, a final decision will be made on this matter,” Fonseca told reporters.
When asked if he is concerned that there are other complaints pending before the General Legal Council about Mr. Saldivar’s conduct as an attorney, Fonseca replied, “We are concerned and the committee will be looking at some of those. We understand that some complaints have been filed, while others have been made in the public, but have not actually been filed.”
Fonseca said that the PUP is not prepared to make the determination that Mr. Saldivar is a liability.
“We are going to await the outcome of the investigation and the entire National Executive of the Party will make a determination and a final decision,” Fonseca said.
Fonseca said that Saldivar has made representation at the meeting and he will be interviewed as a part of that investigation, as well as other witnesses on his behalf.
“So there is due process. We understand that the Belizean people expect that we act decisively when matters like this come up,” Fonseca explained.
The PUP’s decision to suspend Saldivar will most likely create a vacuum in Belize Rural North for the duration of his suspension. Party insiders, however, are viewing the suspension as an important test for Party Leader Francis Fonseca.
While Saldivar backed out from giving Amandala an interview on Wednesday, there was no mincing of words from his campaign manager Castillo.
Castillo told Amandala today, “I strongly believe that such investigation that they (the PUP) are carrying out is just delaying the inevitable.”
He went on to state, “Speaking as the campaign manager of Arthur Saldivar, I believe that very powerful individuals within the party are bent on removing my candidate as the standard bearer for Belize Rural North.”
“This has nothing to do with the Melonie Coye money,” Castillo said.
“The Melonie Coye situation is simply a red herring that is being tossed in front of the Belizean people along with other baseless allegations to paint a picture of Arthur,” Castillo declared. He then noted, “there was no investigation before the decision to suspend Arthur.”
“I can tell you what the decision of that investigating committee will be: They are coming for the head of Arthur,” Castillo said.