Black Immigrant Daily News
Photo: George Lovell
“Car Dealer”, “Colonel”, and the “Big Deal”
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 2, 2023
This Sunday’s UDP constituency convention at the University of Belize Jaguar Auditorium to elect a standard bearer for Belmopan is widely expected to attract less than 1,000 voters from the constituency pool which, as per the Belize Elections & Boundaries Department published statistics as of the end of last month, is 9,400 registered voters. Belmopan has the second largest number of voters in the nation’s 31 constituencies, 6% of 188,963 registered voters.
The field of 3 candidates is led by former 4-term area representative John Saldivar, who was briefly elected the UDP Party Leader just two years ago.
Following the party announcing in August 2022 that it was opening up for constituency standard bearer nominations at the end of September 2022, former 2-term Belmopan Mayor, Khalid Belisle, and political neophytes, businessman Emil Torres and George Lovell, a BDF retired lieutenant colonel and former CEO of the Ministry of National Security, a ministry Saldivar headed in the last administration, entered the race, along with Saldivar.
On November 15 the US State Department designated John Saldivar as corrupt and banned him for the foreseeable future from entering the United States. On December 2, 2022, a 7-person UDP Special Committee narrowly voted to disallow Saldivar’s candidacy in the convention.
But on Saturday, December 19, 2022, the UDP National Party Council voted “Yes” in a virtual meeting, (43 to 39) to allow John Saldivar to run as a candidate. Khalid Belisle then immediately officially announced his withdrawal from the race.
UDP Party Leader Hon. Shyne Barrow subsequently told the media that he was denouncing Saldivar and endorsing George Lovell. Unconfirmed reports are that Barrow is trying to mend fences with Saldivar, who is regarded as the favourite to win the election.
Voting is scheduled to be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Most observers expect a turnout of less than 1,000 voters, despite the fact that it is billed as an “open” convention, which means that any registered voter not designated a “PUP” by UDP Belmopan’s organizers and supervisors, can vote.
In the November 2022 general election Oscar Mira, the PUP candidate won the constituency 4,172 votes (60.09%) to John Saldivar’s 2,004 votes (28.86%). Anna “ABG” Banner-Guy (IND) polled 684 (9.85%) and 83 votes (1.20%) were rejected.
Belmopan is believed to have grown to have become the third-largest municipality in Belize, behind Belize City and San Ignacio. Its population according to the 2010 census was 16,451, and it is estimated to be more than 26,000 as of 2022. Sunday’s convention is the first of 21 contested conventions, standard bearer candidacies having been or expected to be endorsed for 10 constituencies. 64 applications to contest conventions were approved last year.