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Former Minister John Saldivar is ‘designated’ by United States, barred from U.S. due to alleged bribe-taking and corruption

john saldivar belize

Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2022. 3:21 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Unwanted history was made today as Belize joins the relatively small list of countries with persons designated under the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2022 (SOFOP) Section 7031(c).

Former Minister of Government and Belmopan area representative John Birchman Saldivar, 55, is accused of “significant corruption”, specifically, accepting bribes “for the improper acquisition of Belizean immigration documents and [interfering] in public processes for his personal benefit during his tenure as a government official” per a State Department statement from spokesperson Ned Price. Additionally, he is accused of “misusing” a U.S.-donated Coast Guard boat for his personal gain. Acts of corruption such as these undermine Belize’s institutions, processes, and public faith in governance. This is based on “credible information” provided to the Department and the phrase encompasses the nature of the corrupt acts and potential impact on Washington’s interests.

Per a fact sheet issued by the U.S. Embassy, Belmopan, accompanying the official notice, “Designations are not time limited.  As a general matter, when an individual is designated under Section 7031(c), that individual will be ineligible for a visa to travel to the United States indefinitely. However, Section 7031(c) contains exception and waiver provisions that may permit an individual to travel under certain circumstances.”

The designation does not result in the imposition of any financial sanctions, per the Embassy. As for whether his actions specifically harmed or violated American or Belizean interests, the Embassy maintains that “Corruption inflicts substantial costs upon a country’s economy, society, and security. Corruption stunts much-needed foreign investment and foreign assistance; facilitates organized crime, drives migration, and undermines rule of law and citizens’ faith in their government.  Corruption in a foreign country directly impacts U.S. national security, economic, and foreign policy interests, and those of our partner nations.   Corruption undermines democracy and good governance.”

Additionally affected are his immediate family members – his wife and three children, including a minor.

The State Department said it generally does not discuss sanctions but that Section 7031(c) requires the designation once credible information has been received and that the announcement may be public or private.

Saldivar was briefly the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and a few months ago was designated regional leader for its western caucus; additionally, he is seeking a return as Belmopan area representative.

 

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