The Saldivar shuffle is precipitated by Hurricane Mason

John Saldivar is no longer the Minister of National Security, a position he has held since 2012 when the United Democratic Party won its second consecutive general election. He is now the Minister of Defence, responsible for the Belize Defence Force and the Belize Coast Guard.

Senator Minister Godwin Hulse has assumed control of the Police, losing the Ministry of Natural Resources to another now Senator Minister, Vanessa Retreage, also the Attorney General.

That was the extent of the very minor reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Monday at a press conference in Belize City. Just three days before, on Friday, he had told the media that he did not have any evidence on Saldivar’s relationship with William Mason which would cause him to remove Saldivar as Minister of National Security.

While he did not say that he had gotten such information in hand Barrow moved on Saldivar almost immediately after Friday’s press briefing. He met with Senator Minister Godwin Hulse on Saturday to ask him to take on the sensitive Ministry and made the announcement at a special Cabinet meeting on Monday just after he broke the bad news to his former Minister of National Security.

On Monday, PM Barrow told the media, “Nothing since Friday has occurred to make me depart from that point of view. But as was made clear in the question and answer session that we had on Friday, the optics also include the fact that while I’ve not run a poll and while I don’t have any scientific evidence for saying this, the optics make clear that the public perception is that it is untenable for Minister Saldivar to continue to head the police ministry in the current circumstances.”

The current circumstances are that the investigation, such as it is, is still evolving with police actively looking for Melissa Ferguson, the Canadian woman who was Mason’s companion while he allegedly extorted multiple persons in Belize and also allegedly committed the crimes of kidnapping and murder. Police commenced a manhunt for Ferguson six days after the arrest of Mason on July 15.

Multiple Police sources have told the Reporter that Ferguson is believed to be in possession of video footage and/or documents which may be incriminating to Saldivar and other Cabinet Ministers and high-raking police officers.

Saldivar has made no official comment since his removal as Minister of Police, a powerful position. It is almost a certainty that the sanction on him by the Prime Minister will negatively impact his ambition to one day be the Prime Minister of Belize.

He had stated on multiple occasions that he would challenge his colleague Patrick Faber, currently Deputy Prime Minister, for that position when Barrow steps down in late 2019 or early 2020. Saldivar has not indicated a change in his ambition.

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