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#443827 - 08/03/12 12:47 PM Vega: No Apologies For "Giving" Land To Family"
Marty Offline

Hon. Gaspar Vega: No Apologies For "Giving" Land To Family

Last night on the news, you heard the PUP making the case that two UDP Ministers, Gaspar Vega and Rene Montero had given their family members lavish parcels of land easily and inexpensively.

Today, we caught up with Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega in his role as Minister of Agriculture. He was in Blue Creek for a Cattle Sweep - and, thus, had the misfortune of being the first public official to stage an impromptu press conference under a cattle shed. But no matter the circumstance, he was obliging, and remarkably candid about land that he "gave" his relatives. It's a little long, but bear with us, it's worth it - here's how his exchange with Jules Vasquez went:...

Jules Vasquez
"You have set up what they called a friends and family program to bestow your friends and family with pieces of land. How do you respond to that?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega, Minister of Natural Resources
"Jules, I don't know if you have the list."

Jules Vasquez
"I do."

Hon. Gaspar Vega, Minister of Lands
"Maybe we can work with the list."

Jules Vasquez
"Let's go to the list. Diana Rosado who they say is your daughter."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Yes she is my daughter."

Jules Vasquez
"We see 3 pieces for her."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I gave her a piece in Mountain Pine Ridge, 10 acres of land. I gave her a house lot in Corozal and one in Belmopan. And Jules I don't see anything wrong with that. I gave my daughter 2 house lots and 10 acres piece of farm land. I don't think there is anything wrong. I myself don't see anything wrong with that. It's not like I am giving her land to sell so she could have a party or whatever the case may be. I think she can build a house and I think eventually she can have a little farm. Nothing wrong with that."

Jules Vasquez
"Then we go on to Zamir Vega your brother, which is in San Pedro Town."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"That's a house lot. Yes I gave him a house lot in San Pedro."

Jules Vasquez
"But as you know land in San Pedro is very expensive and we see the purchase cost here is $2,000."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"All house lots we selling in San Pedro is between $2,000 - $2,500. All caye land, once it's a house lot. So that is the going price."

Jules Vasquez
"Then we have 3 parcels for Omir Vega; San Estevan, Burton Canal and Mount Pleasant, that's Belmopan again."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"San Estevan, thats a land that he had a long time ago. All he did was push it through and finalize the thing. In Burton Canal - I gave him a lot in Burton Canal and one in Mount Pleasant. He lives in Belmopan."

Jules Vasquez
"Leticia Vega, that's 2 lots. Leticia is your?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Yes Leticia Vega, that's 30 acres in San Estevan if I am not mistaken. Its cane fields Jules. I mean they are getting so petty. I wanted to go to German Vega because that's the main focus."

Jules Vasquez
"Ok, lets jump ahead. We have Eduardo, Karen....."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Karen is German Vega and Ignacio. Karen has 2 house lots that they say she got for $300. These 2 house lots that they are talking about Jules are 2 house lots that he bought right behind his present house. Everybody in Orange Walk knows that those lands belong to BSI from in the 1950s when they built the factory. He bought the 2 lots from someone who had bought it from BSI. They had a little alley in between the two lots that ended right behind his present house lot where he lives. Under the PUP, German Vega/Ignacio Vega started the process of acquiring that little alley. It was the PUP mayor at the time that approved it. Johnny Briceno was the minister of lands. All I did was finalize the process and for that little alley is what he paid $300."

Jules Vasquez
"Then we see that Ignacio Vega has another 7 holdings here in Indian Hill East Progresso registration."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Indian Hill; that's a cane field that my father, since he was the youngest of all nine of us. All the cane fields that my father owned were left to him. That's a cane field. The 3 or 4 lots in Progesso that had come up in the news when we had just gotten in office in 2008 and you can check with Mr. Albert Burns who my brother bought these lots from because they are all lagoon frontage and he bought the land from Albert Burns."

Jules Vasquez
"So you are saying that's a private transaction?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I guess that's what I am saying."

Jules Vasquez
"They have a purchase price here for $800. That Progresso registration section .026 acres."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I don't know what the $800 is for. That must be wrong."

Jules Vasquez
"Maybe it's the tax arising."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"All the Progresso lands that he has he bought from Albert Burns. Albert Burns is a gentleman that is not in politics so he wouldn't lie. I'll tell you what I gave German/Ignacio Vega. I gave him 65 acres to Karen Vega, I still say German Vega because that's his wife and I gave him 135 acres of land in the Carmelita area. Out of those 135 acres - 50 acres was his that the PUP had cancel in 1998."

Jules Vasquez
"Is that lot 01574?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Yes this one is it. All the rest of lands that he has were bought through the private sector. What I want to say is that these people know about it - like the lots they say that I sold for $300. They know that those lands were for BSI I guess from just around when I was born."

Jules Vasquez
"Now are these lands - from your defense of it - are they fair market value?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Yes, you think I should charge my brother more than the rest?"

Jules Vasquez
"Cosme Hernandez has 8 as well. Without tediously going through the entire list - would you accept that 11 people in your family circle....."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Jules, my family are the biggest cane farmers in San Estevan. San Estevan is the biggest sugar cane branch in the whole country. My family doesn't sit down and gossip around the corners. We work ever since. That's why we are successful - we work hard you know Jules - my family, I have like Cosme Hernandez delivered more than 2,000 tons of cane. You know how much land have to be cultivated for you to deliver that amount of cane and I am talking about one member. This is what people must understand and he did not start to produce that type of cane 2 years ago since I became minister of lands and I think that is what the people must try and acquire the proper information. You are a cane farmer that delivered 3,000 tons of cane - more or less how much acres of land you need to develop."

"So how come now that they realize that they this now it's me who gave it to them."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you accept the characterization that - this is what the PUP said; normal people have to wait in line, have to jump through hoops for years to get a piece of land."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Jules I am not a normal person in Belize. I work much harder than a lot of other people."

Jules Vasquez
"Yes but your family is normal people."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"My family is as hard working as me."

Jules Vasquez
"But they are getting preferential treatment."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"They are not getting preferential treatment from me. They've been able to do this ever since Jules. It's not now that they acquiring it. That's what I am trying to tell you. He is not a cane farmer of 2,000 plus tons of cane today. He has been a cane farmer. Every single Hernandez in San Estevan is a cane farmer and they are the biggest cane farmers of that village ever since, not since in the last 2 or 4 years."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, Florencio Marin Jr. says he has - they are in his name apparently 128 parcels in San Jose Palmar. The chairman came and said that that can't be. My point is he says that there is no way that's really his name in the lands registry."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Jules I would have to check that. I have not checked that yet to tell you the truth. I don't watch CTV3. I don't watch Channel 5 and I don't read the Belize Times. I can look into that to tell you the truth."

Jules Vasquez
"It would be very irregular if 128 parcels are for him?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"He didn't deny the ones in Sarteneja that in his company."

Jules Vasquez
"He did, he said that he is not a director. I ask him is his father was and he also denied that."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I could deny anything. But people like yourself, if you really want to do a documentary since this is going back and forth, go to San Estevan and visit the parcel numbers then you will see the cane fields, then you will decide - then you will be able to figure - they just plant this cane today or you can get some advice or somebody to guide you or can say if this cane field is 10 years old and 15 years old - just so that you can make your math."

Marion Ali, reported
"How about the allegations against the lands that have been allocated for Rene Montero? Part of the Elijio Panti Reserve being de-reserve to allocate lands."

Jules Vasquez
"Block E13601 Mountain Pine Ridge."

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"Like I say that I would have to look into. I would deny if I did it Jules like I clearly came out and told you I gave my brother that 100 plus acres, I gave my sister in law 65 acres and if that is the case with Montero I will assume responsibility. But I have to look into it."

Jules Vasquez
"Looking at this, do you think this will deal you a fatal blow from a political perspective or even within your own party?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega
"I have faith in God. I only fear him because I can't hide from him, the rest, future will tell. I am not scared."

We'll have more form Vega and many others later as we discuss the Cattle Sweep - which is finally making it possible for Belizean cows to be exported to Mexico.

Channel 7


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#443840 - 08/03/12 01:54 PM Re: Vega: No Apologies For "Giving" Land To Family" [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Gaspar Vega not scared of scandal and puts faith in God

The Prime Minister did not address directly the land amassed by the Vegas, nor did he indicate if his government would reprimand the Minister or condemn his actions. While the PM has some of the land is bought from private hands, for most people the land transactions stink to high heaven, and whether by luck or nepotism, the Minister of Natural Resources disagrees and says that his people paid the required prices and all transactions were done by the books.  The media was invited to accompany Vega on a cattle sweep in Blue Creek today and the matter was raised. According to Vega, he only gave his brother, Ignacio German Vega, one hundred and thirty five acres. While for the average man it is hard to conceive even getting one or two acres of land in Belize, for the close associates, who Vega confirmed majority are relatives, it sounded like it was pretty easy. Vega made it clear today that while he sees nothing wrong with facilitating land titles to his relatives, unlike other people, the Vegas are hard working people. Here are his words.

Jules Vasquez, 7 News

Gaspar Vega

“This is what the P.U.P. said; normal people have to wait in line, have to jump through hoops for years to get a piece of land.”

Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister

“Jules I am not a normal person in Belize; I work much harder than a lot of other people.”

Jules Vasquez

“Yes, but your family should be normal people?”

Gaspar Vega

“My family are as hard working as me.”

Jules Vasquez

“But they are getting preferential treatment.”

Gaspar Vega

“They are not getting preferential treatment from me. They’ve been able to do this ever since; Jules. It is not now that they’re acquiring it. He is not a cane farmer of three-four thousand plus tons of cane today. He has been a cane farmer—every single Hernandez in San Estevan is a cane farmer and they are the biggest cane farmers of that village ever since; not in the last two or four years. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I gave my daughter two house lots and one ten acre piece of farm land. I don’t think or see anything wrong with that. It’s not like I’m giving her land to sell or have a party or whatever the case may be. I think she can build a house or eventually have a little farm.”

Jules Vasquez

“This one right here, Zamir Vega?”

Gaspar Vega

“That’s a house lot. I gave him a house lot in San Pedro.”

Jules Vasquez

“As we know house lots in San Pedro are very expensive, but we see here the purchase cost is two thousand dollars?”

Gaspar Vega

“All house lots in San Pedro are between two thousand and two thousand five hundred dollars; all key land once it’s a house lot, that’s the going price. But look at the land that he is saying I sold for three hundred dollars. And it’s the P.U.P. who actually sold him the alley.”

Jules Vasquez

“So looking at this Do you think that this will deal you a fatal blow from a political perspective or even within your own party?

Gaspar Vega

“I have faith in God. I only fear him because I cyaa hide fah he. The rest, future will tell. I’m not scared.”

Channel 5


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#443846 - 08/03/12 02:14 PM Re: Vega: No Apologies For "Giving" Land To Family" [Re: Marty]
JZB Offline
"All house lots we selling in San Pedro is between $2,000 - $2,500. All caye land, once it's a house lot. So that is the going price."

I want some!!! Where do go to buy some of this land, or do I have to be adopted by a minister first?

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#443847 - 08/03/12 02:15 PM Re: Vega: No Apologies For "Giving" Land To Family" [Re: Marty]
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Amazing!

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#443928 - 08/04/12 01:01 PM Re: Vega: No Apologies For "Giving" Land To Family" [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Pretenders, liars and cheats

This matter of “land grab” is not new. It’s been happening over and over and over again, across the various governments we have elected. No matter which government is in, it will continue. It will continue because who is going to stop it? Which political party is going to voluntarily subject themselves to a reduction of feasting at the public’s trough?

Don’t listen to what they say. Talk is cheap. Pay attention to the deeds. That’s what they mean.

In every government, almost every elected member of government, particularly those close to the respective Minister of Natural Resources, have gotten acres upon acres of the finest, virgin territory in this land, all for a pittance – that is, for them and their family members. When you hear them in their press conferences and in the National Assembly hurling rocks, it is a case of the sinner calling the sinner a sinner: “your sin is worst than my sin”; “we are better sinners than you.” They’re all guilty; they should all be tarred.

For many of these elected rogues, it is how they survive when they are booted out of office. It is called land speculation. It’s a source of income: they buy the land for cheap in government; they are able to sell at a handsome profit when they are out. And if the economy is good, oh geez! They make a killing.

Ever notice how many signs for real estate agents are littered all over The Jewel? That’s partly because the economy is bad, here and abroad. When it’s better, those lands will go in a hurry, especially the prime, exotic parcels you see undisturbed around.

A handful of people own all the land in our country. Possession of land is what separates the haves from the have- nots, the elite from the proletariat, the thieves from the innocents. In other countries, these land lies to the landless cause bloody revolution. But we are a nice and decent people; we don’t make bad. We don’t act up. Some of us cry for the politicians. We make them out to be gods.

It’s a shame, but it is what it is. We give them the green light to do as they please, carte blanche, if you know what we mean. You think they are suddenly going to have a conscience? They going to look out for you now? They never have. What makes you think they will now?

Which politician has ever seriously looked out for the masses? Which one? Remember “Southside Upliftment”? Remember Mahogany Heights? Remember “Imagine the Possibilities”? All lies, Belize. All a dream…

All this licentious looting of our lands will only end when this finite resource we call Belize has all been parceled off, and sold. A lot of ordinary Belizeans, who are not so connected to the elected representatives, can tell stories of having to leave home at 4 a.m. to journey to the office of the particular Minister of Natural Resources to try and get lease approval for a house lot. If you are from Belize City, and you are lucky, that’s a 50 by 75 lot, primarily in swamp, oftentimes without street access, and across hundreds of feet of London Bridges. That’s the real.

Or it will stop when we make it stop. When we decide those elected larcenists have had enough. It will end when we finally say enough is enough. When we decide that the “slightas” we get on elections day is peanuts to the millions they get all year ‘round. It will stop when we start holding the elected officials accountable, and we start prosecuting and jailing the white collar thieves.

A lowly Belizean man gets 5 years for stealing a tin of milk. The lowly Belizean woman gets 6 years for stealing a ball of cheese, just for trying to feed her “kiddies.” But the man in parliament gets praises and adulation for stealing hundreds of acres of our best land. We say, “there goes the big man now.” We glorify him. We deify him. We make him king.

Some politicians will say they file every year with the Integrity Commission, that their assets and liabilities are registered at the National Assembly with the said Commission. Don’t let them tell you that. Nobody checks them things. Nobody goes to see if whether the land the Minister says values $10,000 is not actually closer to $100,000. Nobody verifies that the house he says he lives in is actually closer in value to a million, while he says he has a mortgage for $150,000. It’s all a sick joke, Belize, and we are the butt of the joke.

Only the people can save the people. There are no saviors in our midst, at least none wearing red or blue garb, and none who think themselves kings. Philip Goldson died a long time ago. The rest are mere pretenders, liars, and cheats. Check them out. They call press conferences and give fancy speeches. Nothing else about them is real!

Amandala

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#444220 - 08/09/12 01:08 AM Re: Vega: No Apologies For "Giving" Land To Family" [Re: Marty]
Nobody You Know Offline
I'll pay double for as much of that San Pedro land he wants to sell,CASH. Notwithstanding it's not his land to sell...

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#445030 - 08/23/12 12:33 PM Re: Vega: No Apologies For "Giving" Land To Family" [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

PM Says Deputy Vega's Comments Not Objectionable

The Prime Minister's Press Conference today as all about the missed Superbond Payment - but the media did manage to get in a few questions edgewise about other burning issues.

The first thing we wanted to know is: what was the PM's response to the remarkable interview given by his Deputy three weeks ago.

Vega freely admitted that he had quote "given" lands to his family members - and that he was entitled to do so because he was quote, "not a normal person in Belize" - a status earned by his, quote, "working much harder than other people."

The Prime Minister said he does not find that objectionable...

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"You see, I didn't see the interview, and I didn't see your piece. I don't know whether you put it quite like that in the piece. But, at least you're saying that if he said, he was not a normal person, he explained what he meant by that, 'I work harder than normal persons' If you just put that out there, 'I'm not a normal person,' that sounds awful. But, if you put it in context, then, it's not nearly so bad, is it? I just hope that you did put it in context for the news, as you're doing now. So put, 'I am not normal because I work harder than most people.' I find that unobjectionable."

And while the Prime Minister hemmed and hawed on that one - he all but stonewalled when it came to the question about "giving" land to family members:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Well, I don't know what the circumstances are. I don't know the exact degree of consanguinity of these various family members. If some included a third cousin twice removed, they then just become the normal electorate and constituents. So, I would need some more details before I would venture to answer your question."

Deputy Vega never disputed that the names on the list were his immediate family members.

Channel 7


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