Hon. Patrick Faber and Hon. John Saldivar, the two political leaders who contended for leadership of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) last Sunday, have been hostile to the Kremandala organization for most of their political careers. As human beings, we pray for the best for both of these leaders, but the fact that they don’t reciprocate has naturally been a concern, because both of them are powerful government politicians who aspire to lead our country.
It is possible that these gentlemen’s dislike for Kremandala is not congenital. These two, both second generation UDPs, might have come by their animosity toward Kremandala through environmental influences, through rubbing shoulders with and trying to please the party’s first generation bosses, namely Manuel Esquivel, Dean Barrow, Hubert Elrington, and Michael Finnegan. Those four gentlemen, during periods when they were not members of the majority party in government, have at times been cordial with Kremandala, but when they are in the majority they have been venomous toward the organization.
At the UDP convention at the Belize City Center last Sunday, Saldivar made a giant leap closer to the top job in the country when he defeated Faber, but on Wednesday, just three days after his great victory, he handed in his resignation as leader-elect of the UDP because of some very damaging testimony in a court case in Utah about his integrity.
The story from the government is that Saldivar maintains his innocence, but resigned in the best interest of the party. We might not have kept our ears close enough to the ground, but we did not hear of his mentioning the interests of the country when he decided to step down.
You’d have to be living in a monastery not to know that these are dangerous times in Belize, dangerous times because a Minister of government who was chosen as leader of his party, a step from being prime minister of the country, was under siege; and now that that Minister has resigned, supposedly because he recognized the hopelessness of his leadership at this time, or because of pressure from the Prime Minister and ranking party members, the times have become even more dangerous.
It isn’t lost on anyone that at the time Saldivar was chosen as the leader-elect of the UDP, he was the Minister in charge of National Security – – the Police Department, the Coast Guard, and the Belize Defence Force – and a great many of the recruits of the last decade had to get a recommendation from him or one of his colleagues to get into the uniformed forces.
It may seem farfetched that Saldivar’s supporters could have encouraged him to try and muscle control of our country, and the reason most would not think that likely is because Belize has never had a leader who wasn’t democratically elected. Belize has also rarely had so many leaders in one party that are corrupt.
Belize’s situation would have been more precarious at this time if the main Opposition, the People’s United Party (PUP), were a pariah in the eyes of the Americans (they are not), and the Americans liked Saldivar (we have heard that they do not). As it stands, there are no ideological differences between the two main parties, both being pro-USA while maintaining ties with our brothers and sisters in socialist-leaning states in our region, and the Americans don’t like Saldivar. If they liked Mr. John, it is unlikely that a certain case would have come up in Utah at this time.
Our political parties being both philosophically palatable, the Americans’ only interests are that there is a reduction of planes loaded with narcotics that land on our territory, and that our government is vigilant in preventing the laundering of the ill-gotten gains of persons operating in the underworld.
It isn’t easy to watch anyone fall so hard, but the welfare of an individual or small group pales beside the welfare of a nation. John Saldivar maintains his innocence, and some of his supporters want us to note the recent attempt by the Democratic Party in the US to impeach their president, Republican Donald Trump, and the kind of evidence that has to be presented to get an elected politician in that country to step aside.
We have no opinion on the US case; what we know is that we can’t copy them in the handling of these matters. The United States is a huge country that can pay for its mistakes. Belize doesn’t have that luxury. You have to prove corruption to make a case against a political leader in the USA. We should step to action in Belize on just the whiff of corruption, because just a whiff is enough to blow our house down.
In an interview broadcast on Love FM, the Attorney General, Hon. Michael Peyrefitte, said that the way the Prime Minister and the UDP handled the situation shows a clear difference between the two major parties. It’s 2020, and we have to note that our involvement in this ugly case in Utah begins in the period of the Penner/Citizen Kim passport scandal. After hearing the submission of the organization called COLA, the Chief Justice of Belize, Hon. Kenneth Benjamin, called for the police to get in on the investigation of the matter, but the Prime Minister and the UDP decided it was sufficient to “backbench” the Junior Minister of Immigration, Mr. Elvin Penner, and carry on as usual.
The actions of the UDP suppressed much evidence that would have come out about the dealings of Ministers and high ups in the UDP with the sales of passports, and other nefarious activities. The UDP, in another incarnation, liked to say truth crushed to earth will rise. It does. They keep telling the electorate about the corruption in the PUP when the PUP were in office between 1998 and 2008, while they have extreme fear that the full details of UDP dishonesty will come to light if another government is in office.
There are many things to say about what has transpired in the last few weeks in our beloved Belize, mostly things to say about the ruling party and who did what, and why, and who is allied with whom, and why, but the foremost concern is that we are being led by a weak, disgraced government that not only insists on holding on, but also has to hold on until it can get its house in order to face the electorate.
The UDP just held a convention to prove whom they didn’t want, at least not at this time. Posthaste, if they will be honorable, they must get a new leader and then face the people in a general election.