US Designates Former Belize Minister For Significant Corruption

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

BY NAN STAFF WRITER

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Nov. 15, 2022: The United States today designated former Belizean Minister John Birchman Saldivar for involvement in significant corruption.

Specifically, the US State Department said Saldivar accepted bribes for the improper acquisition of Belizean immigration documents and interfered in public processes for his personal benefit during his tenure as a government official. 

Saldivar had represented the Belmopan constituency in the Belize House of Representatives from its creation in 2008 until his defeat in the 2020 general election. He was previously Area Representative for Cayo South.

As such, Saldivar and his immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States. These include his wife Darlene Karen Saldivar as well as children Johnelle Saldivar, Jevoughn Saldivar, and a minor child.

Saldivar was the United Democratic Party (UDP) standard bearer for Cayo South in the 1998 and 2003 elections, but was defeated both times by Agripino Cawich of the People’s United Party. He was elected to the seat in the by-election triggered by Cawich’s death in August 2003, defeating Cawich’s son Joaquin.

In 2008 the city of Belmopan was redistricted out of Cayo South and given its own constituency. Saldivar contested that seat instead, defeating the PUP’s Rolando Zetina. He was re-elected in 2012, defeating former PUP Area Rep. Amin Hegar.

Saldivar served as the Minister of Public Service and Government Improvement from 2008 to 2012 in Belize. From 2012 until February 2020, Saldivar served as the Minister of National Security.

Saldivar stood as a candidate for UDP party leader in a convention on 9 February 2020 to replace the longtime incumbent, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who retired from party politics. He defeated Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber, but three days later was forced to resign after allegations surfaced he accepted US$50,000 from accused fraudster Lev Dermen, who was on trial in Salt Lake City, leaving the future of UDP leadership unclear. Although he remains a UDP member and in the Belize House, Saldivar was stripped of his Cabinet post.

“Corrupt acts such as these undermine the integrity of Belize’s democratic institutions and fuel perceptions of corruption and impunity, diminishing confidence in governance,” the Department said in a statement.  “These designations reaffirm the commitment of the United States to combat corruption, which harms the public interest, hampers countries’ economic prosperity, and curtails the ability of governments to respond effectively to the needs of their people.  The United States continues to stand with all Belizeans in support of democracy and the rule of law and will continue to promote accountability for those who abuse public power for personal gain, regardless of their position or political affiliation.”