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Capital City sees multiple challenges to Belmopan kingpin John Saldivar

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Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2020. 8:40 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Four candidates will contest the capital constituency of Belmopan in November, with a fifth hoping to join if a certain judicial decision causes a major shakeup.

Incumbent area representative John Saldivar began the year on top of the mountain, the elected leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) to succeed Dean Barrow. He ends it seemingly fighting for his political life, caught out taking campaign financing from an Armenian-American businessman, Lev Dermen, who was convicted and is awaiting sentencing for fraud and other charges; while another former cohort, William “Danny” Mason, faces a lengthy stretch in prison for murder and awaits trial on other charges.

Saldivar is facing a tough challenge from the People’s United Party’s (PUP) Oscar Mira. There is also independent candidate Anna Banner Guy, a former UDP city councillor whose mantra is integrity; Patrick Menzies, pastor and an activist who leads a newly formed BelizeCan Conservative Party; and Arthur Saldivar, attorney and former PUP standard bearer in Belize Rural North, who is prosecuting a challenge to the election on the basis of lack of redistricting.

Mira says he is a former Belize Defence Force soldier who will give his all in Belmopan as he did at the border and to the Belmopan community.

Menzies bases his campaign on a religious background, stating that the righteous deserve to govern, both Belizeans and those residing in the diaspora, and that government should be smaller and the role of the private sector more robust. He also mentioned the contrast between personal liberty and freedom and the “socialist” outlook of the outgoing Prime Minister, despite the UDP being a centre-right party on the political spectrum.

Banner-Guy, the odd woman out in the last municipal election after she ran afoul of Saldivar, says residents have told her they are getting tired of perceived corruption in leadership, an obvious dig at the incumbent.

Arthur Saldivar, an independent, says he will not seek formal nomination until and unless the Belize PEACE Movement obtains an injunction to delay the election until redistricting has been dealt with; there would have to be adjustments, he believes, if he is successful.

John Saldivar, meanwhile, continues to keep a low profile; he recently went into self-isolation for COVID-19 after contact with colleague Tony Herrera of Corozal.


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