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Patrick Faber’s saga & UDP leadership

Last week I wrote about the relationship of John Saldivar and Dean Barrow and in that web was the fate of Patrick Faber. I find it amazing the developments I am seeing before my eyes as Patrick Faber’s saga continues. I say saga because in his own way, he is his own worst enemy.

I want it to be known that my perspective on these personalities are based on my very own personal and private relationship with them in a time when they were not in government office and only aspired for it. This is important to note because, one of the scariest thoughts for me then, as I navigated the currents of party politics, was to witness the attitude of entitlement and arrogance already on display by these political aspirants when they were still out of political office and only held office within the party hierarchy. Now in power, what I was scared of, is now observed on full display!

I opine that the office or position or power does not change the person; it only gives them the opportunity to fully be and display who they really are.

Patrick Alienates
Now Patrick Faber is an aspirant for the position of leader of the United Democratic Party, a post that in a way, he feels entitled to. Anyone involved in the party since 1998 at minimum can attest that he was always marked to take over leadership one day and thus he had to consolidate power in the Collet Division and have that constituency on lockdown, which he has been able to do since running for office as one of the youngest candidates ever. He was part of a succession plan, but that plan seems to have changed, because I can say without doubt that Dean Barrow is not handing him anything on a silver platter. Now I want to give my impressions of Faber, as he has evolved for the past 22 years that I have known him and known of him.

Faber grew up in party politics and he worked his way up the ranks to the point where he is today. However, he does not realise he has stagnated his own growth and that his own arrogance and sense of entitlement are his biggest downfall. He has failed to understand that you are only as relevant as what you bring to the table today, NOT yesterday!

Back then, in the young vibrant Patrick Faber at the start of his political career, I saw traits of not being able to listen to others and feeling he is always right. Scary for me, because no one can always be right…. I know I am not always right. As he became more and more important in the party, he grew more and more “airs” about him. This attitude is clearly manifest throughout the development of his political career.

Let’s take snapshots of the past Faber and I am sure none will easily forget when he defied police and BDF and tried to break the barrier at the University of Belize campus in Belmopan to disrupt a meeting of then Prime Minister Said Musa. He then embodied the kind of display that the UDP needed, to win over the people of this nation, and show the people the defiance of their opposition. Patrick made sure he was at every public protest and embodied the acts of “Civil Disobedience” that Barrow called for. Therefore, at the end of the day he was relevant then!

However, it seems that Faber’s shelf-life is expiring, and while he feels that he has put his safety on the line, to show his loyalty and readiness to stand for his party, that is not what is required now. In addition, from my vantage point, I opine, Faber has made some serious political errors that have dethroned him from the post of “Golden Boy” in the Barrow annals and now made him persona-non-grata. I think he also has alienated himself from the masses, except maybe those getting crony benefits in his constituency. I say “alienated” because he has taken on and commented on some matters that it was best he stayed silent on, and he truly comes off as petty and “fighta,” as we say in Kriol, and too often those fights are against the small people. His back-and-forth with teachers is monumental, and having someone of little tact such as Dr. Carol Babb to bolster his talking points has been of little help and credit to him. It is as if he forgets he was also a career teacher, and thus he has become a disgrace to the profession! Patrick has failed to learn how to pick his fights.

On the other hand, Saldivar has a ministry where, by its very nature, those under his command are trained to listen and follow, without dissent. Teachers, quite to the contrary, are known to belong to the best-oiled union machinery and are a force to be reckoned with and openly voice their dissent. They have embarrassed Patrick.

Meanwhile, departments such as the Belize Coast Guard and the Belize Defence Force and Police Department would never launch a humiliating public attack against Saldivar, who has been scared of being attacked by his own. Patrick cannot say the same. Thus, Saldivar, in that way is better off!

The wrath he got
While I really think Patrick is petty, arrogant and a brat at times, I still do not think he is as dangerous as I believe John Saldivar to be. I think he has a bit more moral integrity, and while he has allowed his political affiliation and ambition to cloud his judgment at times, I still feel that deep down he knows right from wrong very well, and at times would like to do what is right. He does not have what I see as the killer instinct of John Saldivar, no pun intended!

The most recent public display of this was in August 2019 with the $40,000.00 write-off of the loan of Joshua Perdomo, who was given preferential treatment when PM Barrow was passing write-offs of student loans in the National Assembly, because he said Cabinet agreed. Joshua is no other than the son of Cabinet Secretary Carlos Perdomo, whom per Barrow, he did not know as the CabSec’s son…. Hmmm, swallow that big pill! Well, here is the report of 23rd August, 2019 to refresh your memory as Faber gives his view of this Joshua Perdomo write-off:

“Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister:
“I think it is unfortunate and I will say this that I suspect that my other Cabinet colleagues will tell you the same thing. While you have to specify in the House, and the Prime Minister does this, that is, has the support of Cabinet and I was not present in the caucus. … I was away. But I suspect that even if I were in that meeting the details of these write-off motions would not have been discussed. So I am pretty sure that the details were not discussed. It would normally come from the Ministry of Finance that they are doing these write-off motions. As I think most media houses would know who broadcast the House meetings, this is a normal course that they do to write-off the assets that we believe are irrecoverable. I will tell you that I did not see that detail. I suspect my colleagues would say the same. In fact I am able to tell you that the Prime Minister, that while he is the Minister of Finance, he has said that he was not aware that it was the Cabinet Secretary’s son, but you will have to ask him for his own answer, but that is what he said to me. But that is unfortunate. While I can say that I did not know that it was happening and it was the Cabinet Secretary’s son that is unfortunate and is not the kind of thing that I would support. I am one in Cabinet, and even if I have an opinion, and I just shared my opinion with you, I cannot speak on behalf of the Cabinet. …. Certainly if you ask me for my individual view, that is not something that I would have supported. Whether or not the Cabinet Secretary can locate his son, I don’t know. You are right, it is a big pill to swallow. I don’t believe it is something that is feasible, but without getting into all of that and casting aspersions and jumping into conclusions, I think it is fair enough for us to put it back on the table at the Cabinet level and see what can be done.”

Ironically, while it was PM Barrow, as Minister of Finance who was tabling this write-off in the House of Representatives, it was John Saldivar, as a member of the Finance and Economic Development Committee, who decided to support the Cabinet’s write-off decision, along with other government ministers Hugo Patt; Elodio Aragon, Jr.; and Edmond Castro on August 27, 2019. Saldivar is politically savvy, and not wanting to make unnecessary fuss against PM Barrow, knew how to toe this party line.

Faber did the opposite. This is a classic example of how Saldivar will do what it takes to bring along and please those in whose hands his ascension to party leadership depends. Faber, on the other hand, was just being true to himself and showed a conscience, but that is detrimental in politics.

Saldivar, however, also courted public opinion and, believing his own lies to ease his conscience, wrote on his FB page:

“This motion, in and of itself, does not have the effect of relieving the debtor of his obligation to pay. That in effect occurred legally long before the motion came to the House, at the moment it became statute barred, the moment six years had elapsed without taking the matter to Court … The main evidence … was the legal advice of the Attorney General to the effect that collection is statute- barred due to the amount of time that has elapsed … The monies cannot be legally pursued … and must therefore be written off the books. That is what the Committee was asked to consider, that is what the Committee approved.”

I can categorically tell you Saldivar’s ranting is ill-conceived and I have always challenged their position that the money could not be legally collected. I know otherwise, and sadly have heard the PM give his stance on the issue of time limits to bring a case, seemingly unaware of the legal authorities that say time starts to count until the last payment was due and not when the money initially was owed!

The backlash!
As a result of what Faber had said publicly in denouncing the write- off for the injustice it revealed, he suffered a major backlash, as the newscast of 28th August, 2019, per 7News, reported:

“Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber is not a politician known to dodge the media — but he did so today when the press waited for him at the conclusion of another event. He said he didn’t want to get in trouble. Sources tell us, the Deputy Prime Minister is in trouble with the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Those sources say the PM scolded him yesterday at Cabinet for speaking out of turn last week. That’s when Faber commented publicly on the House-approved write-off for the Cabinet Secretary’s son, Joshua Perdomo… we are told the main thing the Prime Minister found is that Faber violated the firm principle of collective responsibility, which holds that members of the Cabinet must publicly support all governmental decisions made in Cabinet, even if they do not privately agree with them. And, so, Faber, who will formally launch his campaign for leadership with a divisional endorsement convention next week, has run into an early headwind — with gusts coming from the highest office in the land. There has been friction between the two before — partly because Faber has been quietly lobbying in the background for PM Barrow to firmly fix a date to step down, so the Deputy can step up.”

Now, if you know the Dean Barrow whom I knew and worked with, you will know he hates to be challenged publicly, and he hates that anything said could impact negatively on his reputation, even when what is said is true. So believe it or not, I think this Faber position could have been the final straw that broke Dean Barrow’s “camel back”… no pun intended!
Let us see where these chips will fall come 7th February, 2020!

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