After Mai revealed that case publicly in the House sitting, Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega snapped back and pointed fingers at the People’s United Party on similar accusations. According to the Minister of Natural Resources, while the PUP is quick to make accusations, they have themselves engaged in the very act they now condemn as the opposition.


Gaspar Vega – Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Natural Resources


“I will make mention of one Mr. Meggs applied and paid for a piece of property which was the prime property of the residence of the health inspector of every health inspector that visited Orange Walk town, that is where he was housed or she, and the only reason why he has not gotten a title is because I have not issued it and they have not challenge it in court because they are ashamed of what they’ve done.”


And in view of the continuous rise in land battles, we checked with Orange Walk Central Area Representative John Briceno on the accusation and he said that in this case, the matter was not properly clarified adding that the Minister of Natural Resources was making at attempt at distracting the attention from his managerial abilities in the ministry.

 

Screen_Shot_2014-02-06_at_8.28.16_PMJohn Briceno- O/W Central Area Representative


“I want to make it very clear that was not done through the ministry of natural resources and when I pointed it out to him he did admit to me that yes it was something not done through the ministry of natural resources, that it was something that was handled through the ministry of finance something that I had no control over, and certainly it is something that I had no knowledge that it was being done so I just want to make that very clear that Dr. Meggs applied to get that parcel of land, he paid for that parcel of land but it was a transaction that it was not done under the ministry that I had a control of, I had no knowledge about it, I was not consulted about it, but it was done something solely between Dr. Meggs and officials from the ministry of finance.”


But Minister Vega was not done. He proceeded to blurt out yet another accusation again at the Orange Walk Central Area Representative.

 

Gaspar Vega – Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Natural Resources


“There is another piece of prime land that one Amir Carrillo has where the vendors go and put their stalls right at the Barracks, that was were the last representative for the Orange Walk North for the PUP had his office, Servulo Baeza.  That piece of land was given to Amir Carrillo and again the only reason why he has not applied for his tittle is because he is embarrassed because he got it just before the 2008 elections.”


John Briceno- O/W Central Area Representative


“It was sold to Mr. Amir Carrillo and that was the very same case that was made, also that property had a building in it and at one time the then minister, Servulo Baeza use to use it as his office and during one of the elections I think somebody deliberately set fire to the building so it was, the building was in ruins it was just in pieces and likewise Mr Carrillo made a case to the ministry of finance making a case that this building is right next to his property and here we have a half burnt building where government was just doing nothing with it and he was making his case that he was expanding his business and he wanted access for it, and that is why he got that building or that property was then sold to Mr. Amir Carrillo.  At that time nobody was using the property, there were not vegetable vendors as what Mr. Vega was talking about, that is an absolute, complete, 100% lie  on Mr. Vega, now after it was sold and Mr. Carrillo clean the property then these people started to come in.”


Reliable information received from family members of Carrillo indicate that monies were paid to the ministry of finance. The purchaser, Carrillo paid the market value for the land which stands in tens of thousands of dollars. And contrary to what Minister Vega said, Carrillo has been trying to get his title to the land but up to date has been unable to finalize this under the present government. But the question remains, were not both parcels in question here government property at the time of the PUP’s governance? Briceno confirms they were, but adds that the process was valid and legal.


John Briceno- O/W Central Area Representative


“A lot of these properties were abandoned, building were in a bad state of disrepair and the government decided that the wanted to get rid of these properties and felt it is best for them to sell the land so that then a government can get some revenues and be the government does not have to spend in the up keep of these properties.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“So in other words this was a decision from the then government?”


John Briceno- O/W Central Area Representative


“Yes it was a policy of the government at that time  that they wanted to get rid of most of these properties because they were such in a bad state of disrepair, it would have cost the government a lot of money to repair and even after the repair, you would have the up keep that whenever you would bring it people that are staying there that are not paying rent so they don’t take care of the building because they say well it is not mine, so the government felt that it was the best decision at that time was to sale these properties.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“So, in short it was all legal, all legitimate nothing under the table?”


John Briceno- O/W Central Area Representative


“Of course, it was very, very, very clear and all legal and there were not deeds that would be worked out or anything with that and the other properties across the country of Belize.”


In his interview, Briceno mentioned that the processes were conducted under the Ministry of Finance and not the Ministry of Natural Resources which he oversaw. We asked him to clarify that point.


John Briceno- O/W Central Area Representative


“The properties that the government has there under two classifications; one is just land itself which under the ministry of natural resources and any property or any land that has a building is under the purview and the responsibility of the ministry of finance.”


According to Briceno, Government handled the matter surrounding other similar areas such as little England in Orange Walk the same way, and even in other parts of the country.


And finally, we go back to the matter of the East Sports Centre for which as we have reported the documents have been hard to come by. Well, again in yesterday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, the Minister of Natural Resources exclaimed that it was Briceno, former Minister of Natural Resources who had cancelled the lease to both parcels of land that make up the East Sports Centre. Briceno says he did not cancel nor did the PUP at the time in office. He explains that he had received a recommendation to cancel the lease but after speaking with Elodio Aragon refrained from that.


John Briceno- O/W Central Area Representative


“In one of those meetings he asked me to please not to cancel the lease and that the committee is going to continue to look after the Sport Centre and I decided that at that time probably it was in the best interest let s leave it as it is and let them continue to manage the facilities, the sport centre, unfortunately if it had happened they did not continue to function as a committee and eventually I understand that the lease expired and that is why if you look at the officials in the ministry of natural resources talking about expired lease, they are not talking about expired lease on the Guadalupe Park, they are talking about the lease being expired where the basketball court is and by that means if the lease was expired then obviously the lease was never cancelled.”

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