Last Thursday, residents of Caye Caulker voiced their discontentment with the ferrying of sand dredged off the coast of the island for use in neighboring San Pedro.† A group of angry citizens proceeded to block the path of several dump trucks, preventing them from offloading sand onto a waiting ferry.† The material, they argue, should be used to repair faulty streets on the island.† According to chairperson Wayne Miller, the village council is bound to a contract with businessman Damian Chamberlain.† That particular agreement, nonetheless, expires at the end of the month.† On Friday, Chamberlain met with residents in Caye Caulker, at the end of which an amicable agreement was struck.† The residents are prepared to purchase the sand from Chamberlain.† But where is the area representative and Minister of Tourism in all of this?† Over the weekend, the media caught up with Belize Rural South area representative Manuel Heredia who said that help is coming their way.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Area Representative, Belize Rural South

ďIíve heard about it but definitely I donít know what are the issues because I havenít been to Caye Caulker.Ē

Reporter

Manuel Heredia Jr.

ďCan you explain to us what is the situation with Caye Caulker?† Theyíre saying that they believe that theyíve been neglected by you as their area representative and as the Minister of Tourism who their main [source of] revenue comes under your portfolio.† How do you try to make amends with those citizens on Caye Caulker that you are working to get their island up to the level that San Pedro is?Ē

Manuel Heredia Jr.

ďYou know, when people react itís because of something that they donít like but if you can recall the rain is something natural.† Something natural that is all over Belize, all over our region and if you go to the island of San Pedro itís likewise and resources are limited.† So, our prime minister had made an extra effort to make sure that they assist every single area of Belize and Caye Caulker and San Pedro will be no exception.† And I have given the goods and services the same way, sometimes even more than what San Pedro gets.Ē

Reporter

ďSir, I know that one thing they want to know is that if the government would be able to support buying the sand from the company and keeping it in Caye Caulker because it really came from their island, the dredging outside of their coastline?Ē

Manuel Heredia Jr.

ďLet me be very clear on that.† Anything that is on the seabed is the property of the Government of Belize, not for the residents of any particular island.† Likewise in San Pedro, they have done likewise.† They dredge and an island in front of Belize was filled with sand that came from San Pedro.† A perfect example, Cozumel has a sand bank, Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres beaches from sand taken from Cozumel.† Probably the residents might [disagree] but itís not the property of the residents.† Itís the property of the Government of Belize and the chairman, if you saw the chairman, he said it clearly, the sand is for Mr. Chamberlain, he does what he wants with the sand.† Government will give them material, the right material to use in the streets that they need.† With this rains, if you put that sand over there itís a waste of money, itís a waste of time.† So they, we have the expertise, we have the people.† Ministry of Works will be going over there shortly and will make sure that they do an assessment and the government will provide some funding to be able to assist them.† To these people itís all about politics, itís not about reality, itís politics.Ē

Channel 5