It is wise to look inside the souls of persons whom you put in positions of leadership. It is not possible to know everything about anyone, but leaders play such critical roles in our lives that we are remiss if we hand them power over our country’s resources, and to an extent our lives, without doing the due diligence to find out who they really are.
In a month’s time, the highest ranking members of the United Democratic Party (UDP), which has been the party in control of government for three consecutive terms, will be deciding on a new Leader. The leadership convention date is set for February 9, 2020; a venue for the event has been selected — Belize Civic Center; and the delegates who will vote in the election have been chosen.
The leadership change in the UDP is necessary because their present leader, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, is in his third term as Prime Minister of Belize and, in one of the few governance reforms his party introduced while he has been Prime Minister, a three-term limit was set on persons who hold the highest office.
So, sometime in the evening or night of February 9, 2020, the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean Barrow, will no longer be the leader of the United Democratic Party, which he has led since shortly after the party lost in the 1998 general election.
Whoever emerges as the new leader of the UDP will not replace the present leader in the hearts of UDP faithful, at least not immediately. The person who becomes the new leader of the UDP on February 9 could be installed as Prime Minister of Belize, but that is up in the air. PM Barrow had indicated that he would demit office shortly after his party chooses a new leader, the idea being that the new leader would have a few months to show his capacity, an idea that looked good to the UDP some years ago.
The next general election being so near, however, no later than November this year, and the party being so tainted by corruption, they may not want to burden their new leader with all that baggage: they may want their new leader to have a fresh start.
The ruling party really doesn’t have to worry about a leadership race causing a serious fracture in their ranks that could force the Prime Minister to stay on, to heal wounds. If their recent past is any indicator of the future UDP, they will rally around the new leader, because if there is anything about the UDP that no one doubts, it is that they will sail into hell to protect their party.
To make doubly sure that the cohesion within their party is not disrupted, the party’s attack dogs on their propaganda organs are in full force with their usual savagery to prevent anyone from outside getting too close to what they perceive as a wholly internal matter. They could have their way if their leader didn’t have a greater ambition, which is to be leader of all of us.
Two men, Hon. Patrick Faber and Hon. John Saldivar, are vying for the title, Leader of the United Democratic Party. It may be that these two talents who have stepped forward for the convention on February 9 are the best that the party has to offer. It is for sure that they are that party’s most ambitious.
These two men have been targeting the highest office in Belize since they were children. One of them will be one step closer to their dream on February 9, and may even be given the prized job of Prime Minister, if only for a few months, if P. M. Barrow decides to step down.
Persons who aspire to lead our country must expect that their personal and professional lives will be put through the fine-tooth comb.
Faber, 41, is presently the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics (Valdosta State University, USA), and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership (University of North Florida, USA).
Saldivar is presently the Minister of National Security, a portfolio which includes the Belize Defence Force, the Police Department, and the Coast Guard. He holds Economics degrees from the Florida State (USA) and Minnesota State (USA) universities.
On the personal side, Saldivar was in a common-law relationship, with children, but he married another woman. Faber has been married, but is now divorced. His breakup with his wife did not go amicably, to put it nicely.
Saldivar is a sports lover and he has used his personal wealth gained through politics to advance the interests of his private club, Bandits Sport. Faber is Minister of Sports, and under his watch the UDP has used much of the Petro Caribe funds to construct modern sports auditoriums across the country. Both men do share in that success —stadium-building.
Faber, as Minister of Education, has sometimes been at odds with the teachers of Belize, who are not always on the same page with him when he tries to push through his ideas. He has openly declared that when the UDP is in power, party members get preference for jobs in the government.
It is considered public knowledge that Saldivar, as Minister of National Security, directly controls all the hiring and promotions in the armed forces, from the lowest to the highest ranks, but that is believed to be UDP modus operandi across the board.
These two are no altar boys. Faber has been described as petty and vindictive by some members of the UDP who are supporting Saldivar in this race. Saldivar’s name was mentioned in the passport scandal, and in the furtherance of his sports club he formed a business relationship with a man who later was convicted of murder.
Over the years Patrick Faber’s character has been on full display for the nation, while not as much is known about John Saldivar; he has largely escaped scrutiny because he is based outside of Belize City, the media capital. Faber’s bio pops up immediately when you Google his name; Google Saldivar and you will find his educational qualifications and little else. Faber wears his emotions on his sleeves, while Saldivar is a lot more guarded, so his true personality is largely hidden from view.
In one month’s time one of these men will be leader of the party that presently controls government, and will lead the UDP into the next general election. It is necessary that we find out more about them.