Suspended! That is the word from Independence Hall, after the People’s United Party’s (PUP) National Executive convened a meeting on Wednesday to discuss, among other things, allegations of misbehavior on the part of sitting Belize Rural North standard bearer Arthur Saldivar, who is also a prominent attorney.
It is alleged that Mr Saldivar relieved former clients Melonie and Marlene Coye, who were released from charges of money laundering following a successful criminal appeal in March, of some $900,000 in monies recovered from the Central Bank, where it had been held under lock and key pending the result of the appeal.
Arthur Saldivar has denied wrongdoing, but the party is conducting its own investigation, as party leader Francis Fonseca told reporters in a brief session downstairs of party headquarters just before noon on Wednesday.
“The People’s United Party has discussed the issue of Belize Rural North and the candidacy of Mr. Arthur Saldivar our standard bearer in that area. And I want to say we had a very robust discussion, and at the end of that discussion the party took the decision that Mr. Arthur Saldivar would be suspended as a candidate for the Peoples United Party in Belize Rural North and from all party activities, pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation that the party is carrying out into the very serious allegation that has been made in respect of certain monies, which a client of Mr. Saldivar says he took, and has not returned to her.
That investigation has been ongoing. We expect that investigation to be concluded and a report to be delivered to myself and the national executive by September 12th, and the party will then convene a meeting at the National Executive on September 17th, at which time a final decision will be made on this matter.”
Arthur Saldivar is not allowed to engage in party-related activities with regard to his suspended candidacy, up until a report on the investigation is completed on September 12, and the party makes its final decision five days later. But he appeared calm and even challenging as he briefly addressed reporters on his departure, quoting the party’s most famous figure.
“Well the outcome is of no importance at this time. Just suffice to say the people of Rural North have a champion to fight on their behalf. When it’s time to talk, we’ll talk.”
Rt. Hon. George Price used that particular phrase during a press conference in the midst of the 1993 General Election campaign. While Mr Saldivar appears confident, the charges are serious and go beyond just the Coye incident. Francis Fonseca tackles this and the related question of whether Arthur Saldivar, at this point, is too much of a liability to an opposition intent on providing a qualified alternative to the current administration ahead of elections.
Francis Fonseca – PUP Leader
“We are concerned and the Committee will be looking at some of those. We understand that some complaints have actually been filed, while some have been made in the public and have not actually been filed. So yes, we are concerned about that and that is forming a part of the ongoing investigation into this matter.”
“At this point is Mr. Saldivar a liability to the PUP?”
“You know that’s not a determination that we are yet prepared to make. We are going to await the outcome of the investigation, and the entire National Executive of the Party will make a determination on this matter, and will make a final decision.”
Francis Fonseca says due process has been afforded to Arthur Saldivar, beginning with his appearance on Wednesday where he made representations, and he is being interviewed along with other witnesses in connection with all the cases he faces. He is a campaign manager for the Eastern Caucus and has not been suspended from that post. Mr Fonseca says the party will do its best to balance the wishes of the people of Belize Rural North, who reelected Mr Saldivar earlier this year, with the Constitution of the PUP and the party’s intent to stay on the straight and narrow.