The allegations of area representatives and ministers being wined and dined by Mason makes for some very bad optics , according the Prime Minister, and he says they will have to deal with that. The Prime Minister almost bristled at the allegation made by the PUP at a press conference today that it was then Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, currently the agriculture minister, who introduced Mason to the Mennonites who were allegedly kidnapped by him:
“I tried to find out, was it yesterday, just yesterday in Cabinet, everybody who has an acquaintanceship with the man because I need to know, precisely to be able to answer your questions. That certainly is not true.I really, there can be no question of trying to hide from the fact, but Lord man, just the extent of the questioning makes clear that you all mean to draw more from this than it properly can sustain. What it can sustain is what it is and I’ve already conceded that optically it is a problem for us politically but I insist there is no suggestion that the acquaintanceship that various ministers had with this man resulted in any kind of impropriety. I hope to God nobody will try to make the giant leap that seems to be lurking in the wings and suggest that ministers, merely in consequence of an acquaintanceship is somehow guilty by association with respect to crimes that the is gentleman is accused of having committed. Lord man, we have to draw the line there.”
Barrow says that out of his cabinet, only Minister of State, Frank “Papa” Mena received campaign financing from Mason. That transfer of funds occurred ahead of the July 2015 bye-election for the Dangriga Division which saw Mena challenged by the PUP’s Anthony Sabal and the now deceased, Pastor Llewellyn Lucas.
Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize
“Papa Mena had said that at the time of his bie-election there was a contribution made from Mr. Mason. He is the only person that said there was any sort of donation made with respect to political campaigns. He is not hiding it but I prefer you ask him because I don’t think it was anything outrageous. He said a $10,000 contribution was made to his campaign.”
For his part, Saldivar says he is not concerned about any documents or evidence the police may find at Mason’s home that can be linked to his dealings with Mason:
“Well I certainly do not have any concerns but what he may have recorded about me and I’m sure I think I have to put in a plug there for my ministers from what I know of them and nothing untoward took place in any of those visits to his. We were befriended by him we thought he was a genuine business man and it turned out that he wasn’t but in the meantime we did have encounters with him.”
Saldivar was also asked about reports of recent sightings of him and Mason together.
John Saldivar, Minister of National Security
“Absolutely not and I can say that categorically. No such thing occurred. I can tell you last year that when I had an event out in San Pedro he came with me but that was before September. Not this year I can tell you that for a fact.”