Andre Perez Takes Leave Of Absence As Minister, AG To Investigate
Tonight, under the glare of allegations of sexual misconduct - Minister of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation Andres Perez has taken a leave of absence. An official press release says he has requested leave from the Cabinet. But, Belmopan insiders suggest to us it is more like compulsory leave. Government is under pressure to act as the minister - who is married - faces credible allegations of sexual misconduct with another woman. But, he has also put forth his own side of the story - in which he outlines a narrative that he is the victim of a scheming and manipulative former lover. That person is attorney Wendy Auxllou - and she has told us that his version of events is quote, "Perez trying to control the narrative and paint himself as the victim."
So, who's right and who's wrong - and who crossed the line of their respective codes of conduct? Was it the Minister or the Attorney? Well, Government says there's going to be an investigation, and, quote, "at the conclusionâ€¦the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs will advise the Prime Minister on whether there has been any actionable wrongdoing." End quote,
So, what happens next? Well, AG Anthony Sylvester has some digging to do. Perez himself has issued two statements totaling about 12 pages, and Wendy Auxillou issued a 5 page one today - then rescinded it - based on legal advice. She says she is working with an attorney to craft her response - and, no, she won't be appearing on Uncut.
But, most importantly, she has alleged that Minister Perez "indirectly offered" to settle their personal dispute with an offer of government land. She also maintains that his actions were of a predatory nature - starting with when she worked in his ministerial office as legal counsel.
A second statement from Perez this weekend quotes him as saying,"There is nothing to settle". It adds, quote, "while he had previously sought to amicably hear out the grievances of Attorney Wendy Auxillou, he could not make any progress as she kept demanding land and facilitation of lands transactions for her, which he flatly turned down."
So, this government investigation has a lot to go through: allegations, counter-allegations and a whole bunch of screenshots. From the perspective of this newsroom, it's one more affair which ended badly and got even worse after that. But - in Belize's 5P's governance framework - where Politics, Power, Passion, Patronage, and Property often commingle - this case checks all the boxes and that's why the ministerial future of Andres Perez is definitely up in the air. And that's because as banal as his action of allegedly sending a nude photo may seem in the current social context and cell phone culture - it's far from optimal behavior for a public official. We'll keep following it.