How Did Grand Belizean Estates Acquire Prime Land in San Pedro?

Manuel Heredia Jr.

How did San Pedro developers Grand Belizean Estates get a hold of land conservatively worth at least four million dollars for only three hundred and fifty thousand dollars? And where does Minister Manuel Heredia Junior fit into the mix? The story goes back to 2011 when directors of San Pedro Junior College approached Heredia Junior for assistance to construct a school building. One year after, the School had their building, worth three hundred thousand dollars, while Grand Belizean Estates had fifty acres of land worth millions. Today we got an explanation from Heredia Junior himself, via phone.

On the Phone: Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“I approached Cabinet about the situation and at the time they told me that government didn’t have the cash or the finances to do the three hundred and fifty thousand dollar Junior College that Maestro Angel wanted to do. They told me that if I could find another way the Cabinet is willing to help and they believe the need is there. I did my research and beside land that the previous administration had sold to some friends, there was fifty acres that they didn’t manage to do the final transaction, so it was still G.O.B. land. So I approached Grand Belize who had bought the hundred acres from these two particular persons and said look…we need three hundred and fifty thousand. They said but we only paid two hundred and fifty, two hundred and seventy five thousand for the other two parcels. I said man but this is a high school they need three hundred and fifty, and they agreed. So the land was transferred to San Pedro High, and I was able to get the three hundred and fifty thousand dollars to have them agree, and the transaction was done between Grand Belize and San Pedro Junior College, or San Pedro High because the land is vested under San Pedro High. They did all the transaction. All that government did was to facilitate the transfer of land from San Pedro High School to Grand Belizean Estate and the money was paid to San Pedro High School, not to Manuel Heredia, not to G.O.B. but directly to San Pedro High School.”

…Area Representative Manuel Heredia Explains His Involvement

Heredia Junior insists that his participation was only minimal – just facilitation. He also maintains that Grand Belizean Estates paid far more than what was paid for similar fifty-acre parcels. Still News Five has managed to get hold of a reference to a Lands’ assessment which claims that at the time the land was transferred to Grand Belizean Estates; two hundred and two parcels on that large plot of land were being sold for twenty-thousand dollars each. That’s more than four million dollars. In fact, it is known that similar parcels in that area were being sold for thirty-five thousand dollars each. So essentially Grand Belizean Estates got hold of land officially valued at more than seven million dollars, and all it cost them was a school building valued at three hundred thousand dollars. Heredia Junior maintains that the company paid a lot to reclaim the land, and also claims that the reason it is coming up right now is political mischief.

On the Phone: Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

“I just tried to facilitate, but Grand Belizean Estate not long ago…and I doubt that they have sold this land yet…Grand Belizean reclaimed…spent a few million dollars to reclaim part of that land and they have not even finalized, because I go regularly to the Grand Belizean Estate. There is a nice beach where locals and tourists go every day. This land is not by the beach but further up, a low-land that was sold to them. They are reclaiming that land. If a piece of land is worth a thousand dollars probably it would cost you sometimes four thousand or six thousand to reclaim it. It would cost you three, four, five times the original cost of the lot. But whatever the case, Grand Belizean Estate, after you sell them the land…it is not my business what they will do with that. They are supposed to be lucky. That can be checked with the Lands Department how much he paid for the other two parcels and how much was paid for this one…much more than he paid for those two. But the reclamation…man, that cost four, five, six times more than the value of the land. What I believe is happening over here is because election is around…they know that this particular area rep is so popular in San Pedro that they want to undermine me.”

Channel 5