By Michelle Sutherland
United Democratic Party (UDP) Leader Hon. Moses “Shyne” Barrow is calling for the Police Department to criminally charge former UDP minister and standard-bearer convention candidate John Saldivar, who Barrow ostensibly views as a burden that could cost him the next General Election.
Barrow, in his New Year's address to the nation, called on the Belize Police Department, the Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, and even the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution to “do the right thing” and charge Saldivar for willful suppression—the same charges that were levied against former UDP minister Rene Montero.
According to Barrow, pursuing the charges against Saldivar is not only a UDP issue but should be a bipartisan one that sends a message that corruption will not be tolerated by any of the departments named including the Briceño Administration.
In his speech, Barrow indicated that while he had heard the Commissioner publicly say that he would launch a criminal investigation against Saldivar, this is the second such investigation that was supposedly launched, yet no report to the public has been given. He pointed to the contrast between Saldivar’s investigation and that of Montero, whom he said was arrested and charged in no time at the request of a PUP Minister.
“We await the Commissioner of Police and the DPP's decision on the allegations of Mr. John Saldivar, where he was heard in a recording admitting to wilful suppression,” said Barrow. “The Opposition is doing its part, but the government continues to fail, and I am losing confidence in the Commissioner of Police day by day. … If we are serious about ending corruption, then we need to go through the process, and that means a thorough investigation.”
In his response to Barrow’s statement this week, the Commissioner of Police acknowledged that he had publicly said that a criminal investigation had been launched against Saldivar. Williams also stated that the investigation is still ongoing and that investigators have already recorded several statements. He also pointed out that the investigation against Montero was local and that there was no need to secure additional evidence from any external law enforcement agency. This, according to Williams, made the process way easier and faster and so it would only be logical that the process against Saldivar is going to be longer than was anticipated.
“As a matter of fact, his [Barrow’s] own chairman said that they have written to the State Department requesting certain information, and they have not received it. So for him to say what he said, I found to be very disingenuous,” Williams said.
In a previous interview with The Reporter, Barrow had told us that, at this juncture, only if criminal charges are brought against Saldivar, then would he be banned from participating in the Standard Bearer’s convention set for the first week in February.
He had also stated that he would do everything in his capacity as Leader of the UDP to prevent Saldivar from representing the party after the National Party Council had voted in favor of his candidacy pending the convention.
Saldivar’s candidacy has been under scrutiny following a recent designation by the United State Department, which claimed that he was “significantly corrupt,” thereby, refusing him entry into the US along with his immediate family members.