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John Saldivar tells his side of the story

John Saldivar tells his side of the story
February 14
21:33 2020

Friday, Feb. 14th. 2020 –

John Saldivar tells his side of the story.

Late Friday evening, the former minister of national security and Belmopan area representative in the cabinet wrote a lengthy explanation in response to the recent revelations in the Lev Dermen scandal and his resignation from the cabinet. The following is his side of the story.

. . . . . . .

Yesterday I tendered my resignation from Cabinet. The actual text messages of conversations purportedly between Jacob Kingston and myself have now been published in the local media. I categorically state that those messages do not appear to accurately reflect my recollection of any conversation with Jacob Kingston. Mr. Kingston’s credibility as a witness is highly questionable and expert scrutiny of the text messages reveal serious discrepancies that creates high suspicion of being deliberately manufactured. Be that as it may, I feel it is time to tell my story.

I have always maintained that I was never, ever bribed by Lev Dermen, I was never a part of any discussion to move any money from the United States to Belize, and I never involved myself in any act of corruption or wrongdoing.

This is what I have said repeatedly in all my public releases. I was always careful not to say that I did not receive any cash because I knew that I did receive campaign contributions from Lev Dermen just like many other politicians on both sides of the aisle who knew Lev Dermen. These contributions were not tied to any favor or quid pro quo, hence were not illegal or improper. Jacob Kingston himself has testified in one instance of campaign contributions, and in another instance was unable to say the reason for the monies. At no time in his testimony has Kingston referred to bribery in connection with any monies he claims to have given to me or to have seen given to me. The media and others are ignoring this fact.

The question would then be why did I not say this from the outset?

Well, I was in the middle of a heated battle for the leadership of my Party and if I had disclosed this information I would have been removed from Cabinet and I would have had to withdraw from the race. Patrick Faber would have been declared the winner and that would have left all of my colleagues demoralized and exposed.

My failure to disclose was a mistake and I deeply regret it. I should have opted to make full disclosure to Cabinet and to the public from the outset. This mistake was unnecessary and avoidable since there was nothing wrong or illegal about receiving campaign funds. Today, I apologize to Cabinet and to the general public for this poor judgment, however, I repeat that I have not been the beneficiary of any bribe nor the participant in any corrupt deal and there has been no testimony to the contrary.

I have already resigned from Cabinet to stave off the mounting pressures on my government and Party. In the ensuing days I will be consulting with my constituents and my colleagues to determine the way forward in my political career. I still have the desire to continue to serve my people as I have done nothing wrong in receiving monies to service my constituency.

This whole episode has caused me to reflect on the real jeopardy that looms over the head of politicians who pursue their work with zeal and gusto. The demands of our constituencies are great and resources very scarce. We politicians spend most of our waking hours soliciting money to fulfill the needs of our constituency. We knock on every door possible and we talk to every potential donor. We meet all sorts of people the background of whom we know very little about and there is no mechanism beside a quick Google search to do a background check. So when we meet people who are willing to help and a cursory check turns up nothing negative, then we gladly accept their contributions. In my case in Belmopan the investment in my community is visible especially in sports where among our various sports programs we assist almost five hundred youths to be active in the various disciplines. On a daily basis I assist many individuals and families with cash for various purposes from health to education to water bill, light bill and the likes. This money has to come from somewhere and it’s not coming from government whose budget for sports and community assistance is very limited. The money to help our constituents come from business people who have the compassion and desire to help. If politicians are going to be held criminally liable when they accept financial contributions from persons who later on turn out to be criminals, then all of us politicians are in jeopardy of one day being considered a criminal for having taken an innocent contribution. There are some politicians even in my Party who are pretending sanctimoniously that they don’t do the same.

I repeat that I maintain my innocence of any wrongdoing and I hope I can repair the damage done by my not being forthcoming from the beginning with my Cabinet colleagues and the public about campaign contributions from Lev Dermen.

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