Thursday, February 13, 2014

Credible sources have confirmed that Area Representative for Belmopan and Minister of National Security, John Saldivar has been removed from his post and replaced by recently elected UDP standard bearer for Orange Walk East, and former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Elodio Aragon Jr.

Also put out to pasture was Senator elevated to Minister of Public Service and Election and Boundaries, Charles Gibson. Elodio Aragon Jr. will then be sworn in as Senator and elevated to take Saldivar’s spot while Saldivar scoots over to Public Service.

The decision was taken during cabinet meeting yesterday and was reportedly unanimously supported by cabinet. Aragon was vigorously supported for ministerial post by Deputy Prime Minister Margarito Gaspar Vega.

What prompted the move by Prime Minister Barrow, sources were allegations brought against now former National Security Minister, John Saldivar and Charles Gibson regarding the ensuing passport/visa scandal. That however has not been confirmed. As National Security Minister, Saldivar failed to activate investigation into what occurred at the Immigration and Nationality Department which resulted in a jailed South Korean in Taiwan expeditiously receiving a Belizean passport and citizenship without setting foot in Belize. Saldivar’s sister Candelaria is CEO in the Ministry of Immigration.

Disgraced former Minister of State with responsibility for Immigration, Elvin Penner who facilitated the issuance of passport and conferring citizenship to the jailed fugitive, Won Hong Kim, continues to enjoy certain largesse even though he purportedly has been stripped of his positions as minister and head of house committee. Penner will or has benefitted from a contract he signed with a wind mill company to lease 100 acres of land in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. The large parcel of land was allegedly recently given to Penner. The company is expected to produce electricity for the national grid, an insider says.

Other changes are expected as PM Barrow tries to save his administration which is teetering due to rampant corruption perpetrated by members of his cabinet.

“…..there are times when indeed I feel that my troubles are being caused more by the difficulties that the behavior or the actions of some of my ministers, the difficulties that sort of behavior has resulted in,” Barrow said to the media following the last meeting of the House of Representatives held on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014.

Sounding rather delusional and incoherent, Barrow went on to say that he was, “very worried indeed because I am absolutely convinced that the government is doing a phenomenal job with respect to the kind of public spending that I have told you about, with respect to the improvement on the quality of life, with respect to employment creation, with respect to the success against crime, with respect to being able to solve the huge issues of the day: ASR, B.S.I., the B.S.C.F.A., the super bond; matters that are extremely weighty and critical in terms of the national interest.”

Not only critics but also Barrow’s supporters differ vehemently with those assertions. Unemployment and poverty have been at their highest ever since Belize’s Independence in 1981 and economic growth has fallen dismally way short from Barrow’s meager projections last year.

“And on that basis, I would have felt that notwithstanding the well-known difficulties of anybody trying to get a third term—and which would have to be present in any case—I would have felt that at this early juncture we would have been able to feel pretty good about where we are—delivering goods and services, making sure that people can see tangible improvements,” Barrow went on.

“But there is no doubt at all in my mind that the scandals have threatened to swamp us, they have threatened to cause us to come undone and naturally that is a source of great regret because to some extent, it is self-inflicted.”

Appearing confounded by the disgracefully corrupt acts perpetrated by his ministers of cabinet Barrow attempted to distance himself but obviously failed since he is at the top and has religiously defended their actions. “I have been personally extremely hurt because I at the top of the pyramid run completely straight and that I believe is well known. But when indeed I have to defend or appear to be defending behavior that is the opposite of straight, my personal credibility takes a great hit,” the PM said.

Barrow’s administration has only a slim majority over the opposition People’s United Party in the House. Following premature elections held in February of 2012, one year short of completing their first term in office, Barrow’s UDP only gained 17 seats with the PUP winning 14.

Today’s maneuver is an attempt to stabilize things. Whether it will work is left to be seen as feelings will be hurt and fallouts are as certain as there are other scandals involving other members of Barrow’s cabinet looming.