BELIZE CITY–The People’s United Party National Executive decided to suspend Belize Rural North standard bearer Arthur Saldivar on Thursday, until the Party concluded its own investigation into the allegation that he allegedly made off with over nine hundred thousand dollars from his former client, Melonie Coye.
Saldivar’s suspension, however, did not go down too well with his executive committee, which fired off an angry press release and staged a boisterous protest in front of the PUP’s Independence Hall this morning, demanding an audience with Party Leader Francis Fonseca.
None of the Party officials were at Independence Hall, however; only Fonseca’s driver, George Dominguez, and his advisor, Albert Vaughan were present, and they had to endure a few hard words from the protesting committee members before they eventually left.
Neither was Saldivar present at the protest, but campaign pictures of him were in no short supply.
Uniformed police officers stood across the street for a little over four hours as the protesters ranted and raved in support of their candidate, who they felt was suspended contrary to the provisions of the Party’s constitution.
With a bullhorn, Wendy Castillo, who is a former president of the PUP’s United Women’s Group and the wife of Saldivar’s campaign manager, Linsford Castillo, chanted: “We want Francis. We want Francis”, while the others chanted, “The People’s champion, no suspension.”
In their press release, Saldivar’s committee said, “We completely and wholeheartedly DENOUNCE this illegal and unconstitutional decision taken by the PUP National Executive on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 to place our candidate and ELECTED standard bearer on two weeks’ suspension pending a so-called ‘investigation’.”
The release went on to say: “the decision only serves the selfish agenda of a few members of the national executive who are undermining the Party under the guise of ‘love for Party’.”
Crouched in clearly combative terms, the release said: “We will NOT allow any handpicked ‘replacement’ to come into our division and benefit from our years of hard work, which was accomplished with much blood, sweat and tears.”
The protesting PUPs from Belize Rural North had vowed that they would picket Independence Hall until the Party Leader met with them.
By early afternoon, however, after it was communicated to them that Hon. Fonseca would not meet with them, they called off their protest – without any assurance of a future meeting with the PUP Leader.
Reporters rushed back to Independence Hall around 2:00 p.m., after learning that the chairperson from Belize Rural Executive Committee, Carol Williams, had communicated with Fonseca and would make a statement to the media.
Williams read from a prepared statement: “Our intention today was to make it clear that we do not recognize or acknowledge the suspension. In a telephone conversation to me a few minutes ago, the Party Leader informed me that he will not meet with the executive committee. In light of the Party Leader’s reluctance to meet with us today, our committee is left with no other choice but to reconvene and determine our next move.”
On September 17, the PUP’s investigation into the allegation against Saldivar is expected to come to an end and a report will be made to the Party by the investigating team, which is comprised of party chairman, Henry Charles Usher, legal advisor Anthony Sylvestre and two members of the Order of Distinguished Service.