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UDP Demands Evidence of Saldivar’s “corruption” from U.S.

PoliticsUDP Demands Evidence of Saldivar’s “corruption” from U.S.

Photo: John Saldivar’s press conference

by Kory Leslie (Freelance Writer)

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Nov. 29, 2022

On Friday, December 2, former Belmopan area representative and Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, who just about two weeks ago was designated as “significantly corrupt” by the US Department of State after an announcement by the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, is scheduled to appear before a UDP Special Committee that has been set up to review the allegations against him. The review is being carried out in an effort to afford Saldivar what the UDP leader, Hon Moses “Shyne” Barrow has referred to as due process. In what seems to some to be an attempt to give the committee process a semblance of an impartial judicial proceeding to determine Saldivar’s innocence or guilt, the UDP is now asking the US Department of State to hand over any evidence of its claims against Saldivar—a request to which, many say, the United States is unlikely to respond.

UDP chairman Michael Peyrefitte, who sent the written request to the US on behalf of the party, told the media during a Zoom press conference this week, “We have a member of our party who is looking to enter into a convention to represent our party and a designation is given like the one that was given not only against him but his wife, his children, a minor child, everybody except the dog and so we want to see what evidence they are depending on or what evidence they use to come to that decision so that the UDP may look at that evidence and come to our own decision, so we just wanted to know what they had because they didn’t present any information. They didn’t say that he was invited or charged or anything of that sort so we want to see what evidence they have so that we as an organization can assess that evidence and think of a way forward,”

He went on to state, “We’re saying, show us the statements even that were made against this person. Give it to the local police department. Give it to the DPP. Have them institute charges. And then that would possibly have a huge effect on our position that we would take as a party. But when you just say ‘we’re designating you’ and give no evidence we have a right to ask what that evidence is. You have to understand, you know. There has not been a request for extradition you know. There has not been an indictment in the U.S. you know. He has not been charged with nor legally accused of anything.”

Peyrefitte did note, however, that the way the public perceives the matter could have political implications and that the party will have to take this into account when deciding to whether to allow Saldivar to represent the UDP. “The goal will be to make a recommendation that we believe is in the best interest of the UDP. You have to balance perception with fairness as well. So there will be deliberations, there will be a discussion on the matter and everybody who will be sitting in that room will have the best interest of the UDP at heart and we have to take everything into consideration before we make a recommendation,” he said.

As reported, Saldivar, who the US State Department accuses of being involved in “significant corruption while serving in his public position as a Belizean minister” was quick to refer to his designation as “baseless”, and “malicious” in posts on his Facebook page and addressed the nation last Thursday in a press conference to declare his innocence and reaffirm his intentions to seek to seek to serve as UDP standard bearer in the Belmopan constituency by participating in an upcoming Belmopan convention.

Peyrefitte also commented that while Saldivar conceded to committing an “error” by utilizing a Coast Guard vessel to take convicted US fraudster Lev Dermen on a trip for personal purposes (something Peyrefitte himself views as an “abuse”), he does not see this as sufficient to impose such a designation on his colleague.

Peyrefitte also seemingly used the designation imposed on Saldivar to raise questions about the conduct of those who are a part of the current administration—issuing what almost seemed to be a warning to the current members of the PUP government:

“When you behave in a certain way in office, there will be a day of reckoning you know. And you have to understand that how you comport yourself when you’re in office is very important because things may come against you that may be fair or unfair. But you have to be very careful that you go out of your way to not just do the right thing but to also seem to do the right thing. If you notice, you don’t see the PUP celebrating this at all because they may very well know that their own day of reckoning may soon come given their performance and their behavior over the first two years of being in government,” he said.

Saldivar in his press conference seemed to suggest something similar by referencing previous bribery allegations that had been made against the now Prime Minister Briceño during his tenure as the Minister of Natural Resources. Upon his return from Venezuela on Monday, Hon. Briceño was asked about those allegations, which he immediately denounced:

“As to the issue of the so-called bribe, let’s start with the obvious. Don’t you think that if the Barrow administration felt that there was some sort of bribery, they would not have taken me to court a long time ago? They were in government for thirteen years. They had thirteen years to levy charges against me, and they did not, because they know it is a stupid thing,” he said.

The UDP Special Committee is expected to make a decision by December 9.

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