The drug planes just keep falling out of the sky over Belize … and it is happening in an unprecedented number in the history of this country. I could surmise that we have never seen this phenomenon in Belize and it is incredible that not one of the occupants of these “suspected” narco-planes is ever caught and worse yet, the cargo is never found, in, or near, the aircraft. It is as if it is a well-coordinated exercise with local support and foreign agents and assets. Law enforcement authorities are absolutely clueless or helpless in bringing a stop to this criminality. I feel I can predict where these planes would land next, but the intelligence units or arms of the Police, BDF, and Coast Guard are either outright incompetent or complacent.
This wave of planes falling out the sky is accompanied by unprecedented crime rates, drugs and ammunitions findings. Imagine murder cases are still high, and have evolved into some of the most heinous type, including the beheading of a pastor. We have never seen so many missing people, who seem to disappear without a trace, and those found are usually in conditions that indicate the brutality of their last minutes. Crime is still rampant and broad-daylight shootings are now the norm.
On top of it all, now we are dealing with the rather disappointing reports of the level of sexual harassment in the Belize Defence Force, as recruits are being targeted by senior officers. Then, to top it off, even internationally our name stinks as in a shocking court revelation out of Utah, USA involving one Lev Dermen, who is singing like a canary about bribery and corruption with government officials in Belize.
According to a report by Belize’s News5 of 23rd January 2019, one ministerial name being called is John Saldivar. The news report states:
“Dermen is the accused mastermind in a scheme that defrauded the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of more than five hundred million dollars in tax credits. He sits in a prison in Utah awaiting trial which is in a few days. But here in Belize, the name of Minister John Saldivar is embroiled in yet another scandal. The issue has been bubbling for two weeks and now there is a long list of exhibits to be presented to Judge Jill Parrish, which includes text messages between Minister Saldivar and one of Dermen’s former business partners. Jacob Kingston is also to testify against Dermen, making allegations of bribery of government officials here and in the U.S. as part of a wider pattern of corrupt activities.”
John Saldivar is the common denominator
One thing all those events I mentioned above have in common, is that they are all taking place under the leadership and watch of Hon. John Saldivar, who is the Minister responsible for National Security. It is under his leadership that the planes are falling out of the sky, yet we are not able to stop them, nor apprehend those involved. It is his Ministry that must allocate budget for matters such as buying the $25,000.00 night goggles the BDF need to be able to do night flights, so they can patrol our potential landing sites and deter the illegal landing of these narco-planes.
This same Ministry of National Security must ensure that there is a well-maintained fleet of vehicles in both the BDF and Police to ensure quick response to these landing sites. Better yet, these agencies should be doing stakeouts at these potential landing sites, which I am sure the Police, like myself, know.
Again, it is under the watch of John Saldivar that we had his one-time business partner, Danny Mason, arrested, charged and convicted for the decapitation of Pastor Lucas. Imagine, Danny Mason had entered business transactions with Saldivar and was even named as a shareholder in a company with Saldivar. To date, neither John’s friend or his police personnel can tell us to whom the head of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas was being delivered to as proof of a done deal. Neither have investigations revealed if the minister the head was destined for was a minister of government or a minister of church.
Then, there are the incessant shootings and murders and disappearances and the overall increase in criminal activity, all under the watch of the head of National Security, John Saldivar. Then to top it off, just days leading to the grand convention of leadership, in a Utah court it is revealed that the person Lev Dermen is talking about and calling the name of, is no other than John Saldivar.
Dean Barrow stood by him
It is clear that the effectiveness of Saldivar in his capacity of head of National Security is not stellar. He has not been able to reduce crime, nor has he been able to clear his name in the Lev Dermen scandal. Nonetheless, and ironically, PM Barrow has stood by Saldivar, as if Saldivar has some strong obeah worked on him or a voodoo doll controlling what PM Barrow says and does in defence of Saldivar. For example, on 17th January, 2020, Barrow asserts he will deal with any minister found complicit in the Lev Dermen case:
“That matter with respect to the proceedings in the U.S. involves unnamed ministers, allegations against unnamed ministers. I made the point that the allegations are that one minister was getting monthly contributions from this Levon and another minister got monies by way of a wire transfer. No names have been called, but the trial is soon to commence, and presumably once that trial is commenced the evidence that the prosecutor currently tells the judge he is prepared to lead, will be led, and I repeat that the names clearly will come out and the evidence to prove that they were recipients of money and for a corrupt purpose will be forthcoming. If or when that happens, I say to you sir, and to all members of this house and to the nation, anybody, any minister indeed that has been found to be complicit in any corrupt act and to have received money for purposes of a bribe will be fired by your humble servant.”
But when the minister’s name was called and it turned out to be John Saldivar, and the Utah news reported that text messages between Saldivar and Dermen existed, then PM had a twist on his answer and via press release he launched the John Saldivar defence. He stated:
“The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has been made aware of a new item publicly extracted in Belize from the Lev Dermen trial documents in the U.S. Various media houses have asked the Prime Minister whether the new extract, which alleges the existence of text messages between Minister John Saldivar and Lev Dermen’s convicted co-conspirator Jacob Kingston, provides a sufficient basis for the Prime Minister to act now.
The short answer is that it does not.
The extract speaks only to the alleged existence of the text messages. It does not disclose the contents of those messages or even the subject matter of the texts. It absolutely does not constitute so much as an allegation – much less provable material – that Minister John Saldivar received money from Kingston or Dermen. The Prime Minister can only act if there is evidence of the receipt of money by Minister Saldivar or some other improper or incriminating act. If the Prime Minister were to move against Minister Saldivar in the current circumstances and before any evidence of wrongdoing is forthcoming, that would be a gross violation of the rules of fair play and the Minister’s Constitutional rights.”
Once again, nothing is good enough evidence for him it seems, and despite the magnitude of the allegations, he is not prepared to act and seems to be hoping that nothing else explosive happens before the upcoming UDP convention this weekend.
Patrick Faber as an option
Now the option other than Saldivar is Patrick Faber, whose name has not been associated with any allegation of the likes of those with which Saldivar’s name has been called. Faber, however carries with him the under breath whispers of those calling him “woman beater,” “woman abuser,” “wife beater,” etc. Of course not all are whispers, nor behind his back. There are those like Shyne Barrow, who on his Facebook page wasted no time in reminding Faber that there have been allegations against him too. He states:
“ When you were arrested for beating and choking two women, one of who [sic] worked for you at the Ministry of Education the victims [sic] statement to the police was recorded, medical examination certified [sic] but you claimed it was just an ALLEGATION!” you were not fired based on an ALLEGATION!!!”
The irony of it all cannot be missed, as Shyne Barrow, who is pointing his finger and pointing out the difference between allegation and conviction, himself was convicted and is a felon who served time in a USA prison and is thus now an expert in “allegations” and convictions. The telling part of his tirade is that Shyne wasted no time listing all the ills he knows of Faber and clearly an indication that he has taken sides and surely it is not Faber’s side.
The entire Barrow Clan is stacked against Faber, yet Faber is not giving in. There are rumours surfacing in back quarters within the party that the Barrow Clan is against Faber because he was recorded saying that when he becomes Party Leader he will put a stop to the gross Barrow nepotism and stronghold as all members of his family fleece off the people. He has apparently been critical of the overwhelming power “Sister B” wheels and how the Barrows have consolidated power creating their own oligarchy.
Now, if that is true, it would explain the sudden change of the days of old when Dean Barrow said, “Patrick Faber was part of the UDP’s succession plan!”
On the other hand, Saldivar, even if he thinks it, would not call out the Barrow nepotism. He would play his cards well to show loyalty to Dean to get the backing he needs to get in power, but once in power, he is smart enough to know he can then act on what he wants, because he then is king! He may even forget he once pledged loyalty to the Barrow Clan, because it was a transactional relationship to get what he aspires for – UDP leadership!
If I were a delegate and had to choose, I know that of the two evils I would prefer Faber … not because his abuse to women should be tolerated, but because that seems less evil than being a leader, and potential Prime Minster, who has a record of too many narco-planes falling out the skies … and too many questionable associations, from Danny Mason to Lev Dermen. Saldivar’s track record as Minister of National Security leaves us living in much insecurity and concern of how much more coincidence it could be that it is always his name being called in the most questionable cases and allegations of corruption and abuse of power.
However, for me having to make a choice through this process of deduction tells us how bankrupt as a nation we are. We seemingly lack good, honest, credible and sterling leadership in this country! Let the votes be cast and let’s see who it will be!