Former Belizean security minister denies corruption allegations
BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) – Former national security minister in Belize, John Saldivar, who the United States last week described as a person involved in “significant corruption,” says he is being “wrongly accused.”
The US State Department had claimed that Saldivar had “accepted bribes for the improper acquisition of Belizean immigration documents and interfered in public processes for his personal benefit during his tenure as a government official.”
Washington said that section 7031(c) provides that officials of foreign governments and their immediate family members about whom the US Secretary of State has credible information of direct or indirect involvement in significant corruption, or a gross violation of human rights, are ineligible for entry into the United States.
“Corrupt acts such as these undermine the integrity of Belize’s democratic institutions, and fuel perceptions of corruption and impunity, diminishing confidence in governance,” the State Department said.
But Saldivar, who served as a government minister from 2008 to 2020, told a news conference late Thursday that while his nine-year-old had not been included in the State Department notice, his “son of 15-years-old has been named, my other son who has lived the last 16 years in the United Kingdom has been named, as well as my daughter, my eldest daughter who has also lived in the United Kingdom for the last 16 years, as well as, of course, my wife.”
“I find this to be egregious. I find this to be unjust for them to also be targeted in this, not to mention that I find it unjust to also be targeted without any opportunity at all to respond to the charges. But this is not just about John Saldivar, this is about the human rights of all.
“This is about natural justice, this is about due process. Let me state, therefore, for the record, as I have stated many times before. I am innocent of any allegations that have been made against me,” said Saldivar, who appeared at the news conference without his attorney.
“At no time have I participated in any corruption at the Immigration Department while I was the minister or even before or after. And there can never be any proof brought out against me in that respect.”
“I challenge the United States government to provide that proof. I have no difficulty in facing a trial whether here in Belize or abroad in the US once that evidence is presented to me, so that I may answer properly. I am not a corrupt person.”