Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2020. 8:47 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: As is wide knowledge, National Security Minister John Saldivar is taking on current Deputy Prime Minister and First Deputy Party Leader Patrick Faber for the biggest post in the United Democratic Party: its leader.
This is their third race against each other for a party post and it is a case of what a difference a decade makes for both men.
In August of 2010, Faber and Saldivar both went after the post of party chairman, succeeding Doug Singh, at the National Convention in Orange Walk.
Then, Faber had the support of party leader Dean Barrow and then first-deputy Gaspar Vega, in whose backyard the convention was being held.
Faber secured 422 of 550 delegates to Saldivar’s 122 – a 300-vote thumping.
But he told Channel 7 News afterwards, “I wouldn’t want anybody to run away with the idea that it’s because of the party leader’s endorsement. There were some constituencies that I had to use my merit, that people were not so happy about what is happening and wanted to see change and I had to say to them that this is between my chairmanship and your constituency.”
Of his ambition to one day be party leader and Prime Minister, he said, “There is no secret that I am ambitious and I would wish to be the leader of the United Democratic Party one of these days. But I am not in a hurry.”
Saldivar, meanwhile, said, “My history as a candidate is that I always rise from defeat and I am a very resilient person. Defeat does not make weak, it makes me stronger.”
There was an indirect clash three years later in Corozal, when Faber directly challenged Vega for first-deputy leader. Vega, then as now, was backed by Saldivar, and it was a narrow defeat for Faber – 331 to 233, a difference of 98 votes. Of note that is Barrow backed Vega, according to the Amandala, “at this time” to preserve what he calls the “ethnic and geographical” balance inside the party and in the government.
With that, Faber was out of the party leadership. But he plugged away and Vega’s influence whittled away until 2016, when he stepped down in a shock decision as first-deputy at the party’s national convention in Dangriga. Faber and Saldivar would meet again, this time at the ITVET Compound in Belize City.
That result also went Faber’s way, 336 to 248, a difference of 88 votes. His support dipped from over 70 percent in 2010 to about 57 percent in 2016, losing 86 delegates while Saldivar gained 126. (Note that 504 persons voted in 2010, compared to 585 in 2016).
So what to expect Sunday? The impressive array of area representatives backing Saldivar suggests he has this in the bag. But Faber claims to have undercut that support in the past few months and now he has the majority. The Prime Minister, now on his way out, has kept his vote secret as opposed to coming down one way or the other. Sometime on Sunday afternoon, the conclusion to this intra-party trilogy will be known.
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