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Editorial: 26th. Jan. 2020

Editorial:  26th. Jan. 2020
January 25
10:08 2020

Editorial: 26th. Jan. 2020

A court in Delaware has released information identifying Jacob Kingston and John Saldivar, who authorities say were complicit in facilitating/receiving payment from a wealthy Armenian American, Lev Dermen, in return for a diplomatic posting for Dermen.

US prosecutors intend to produce evidence from the cell phone of Kingston to make their case against Dermen and by extension against Saldivar, who is running for political office as Leader of the United Democratic Party in Belize, although Saldivar is not the person on trial.

Jacob Kingston was arrested in the United States on August 23 last year, and appears to be co-operating fully with U.S law enforcement authorities. The facts as we know them are these:

  1. Dermen was introduced to Saldivar in Belize in 2013 when Saldivar was Minister of Immigration and National Security. The two men met up in the US for a championship football match in 2015 The relationship lasted from 2013 to 2015. This information comes directly from Saldivar.
  2. Saldivar as Minister of Immigration and National Security has no power to make diplomatic appointments. That is a matter exclusively for the Prime Minister. As a member of the inner circle of Cabinet, however, he is in a good position to make recommendations.
  3. We know that a recommendation was made to the Government of Belize on behalf of Dermen for a diplomatic posting, but it came to nothing because the United States Government which has to approve, did not. None of the above is proof of anything of a criminal nature, but there’s more.

US prosecutors appear to be depending heavily on evidence obtained from Kingston’s cell phone, from text messages sent and received. This could be damaging.

They also appear to be depending on statements from Dermen himself, who appears to be co-operating to save himself from a long prison sentence. If Dermen implicates Saldivar as the person who received bribes, that could be a fatal blow to Saldivar’s hopes of ever becoming Party Leader in Belize.

Apart from all this, there is what some protagonists refer to as “a willing suspension of unbelief.” If Dermen was hell-bent on getting a diplomatic posting from the Government of Belize, is it not likely that he would have confided his ambition in the Minister of Immigration and National Security?

And given the known fact that a diplomatic appointment was proposed (but failed in the end) is it not likely that Saldivar is the Cabinet Minister who backed the proposal for Dermen’s appointment.

This takes us into the realm of speculation. But the Prime Minister knows who it was that backed Dermen, and he may know a great deal more. There’s no speculation in that.

Is it going to be necessary to show proof that Saldivar obtained bribe money? If Saldivar were under trial for a criminal offence, there would certainly be need for this level of proof. But Saldivar is not under trial. Only his reputation is at stake. But that is a matter of deep concern to the electorate.

It could determine the future of the UDP.

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