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#260351 12/21/07 08:28 AM
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 6,267
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DEcember 20 Evening News - Channel Seven

Barrow Unveils Deer Caye Gravy Train

Last month we took you to Deer Caye, a small pair of islands just northwest of Ambergris Caye. The Deer Cayes, all 1600 acres of them are in a wildlife reserve, but the land itself is not part of the reserve. And while the Southern Caye is in private hands, the larger, Northern Caye was in government hands, but not anymore. At yesterday's House meeting, the leader of the Opposition disclosed to whom the deer cayes have been sold. Here's what he had to say.

Jules Vasquez Reporting,
On November 6th we showed you Northern Deer Caye, it had already been surveyed and we saw those lines all across the island - even into the seabed - the sea bed of an area that forms part of the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. But no matter all that, when asked about Deer Caye 10 days after we aired our story, this is what the Minister of Natural Resources had to say.

Hon. Dean Barrow, UDP Leader
"Will the Minister of Natural Resources say whether government has sold or agreed to sell land in the Deer Caye Range and if so how much land and to whom""

Hon. Florencio Marin, Minister of Natural Resources
"Madam Speaker no sale or agreement to sell has been made by the Land and Surveys Department. However, applications for land in Deer Caye have been submitted to the Department and preliminary research is in progress to assist in determining the extent of national lands available."

Hon. Dean Barrow,
"Will the Minister give an assurance that if government decides to sell or agrees to sell that he will inform the House and the nation?"

Hon. Florencio Marin,
"Madam Speaker, I think I have served in this town long enough to know my duty as a Minister."

And it appears his duty is to sell, and cheap - island property for upwards of $200 an acre. Not bad when you consider that those who he sells it to, on-sell it for 40 times that - as much as US$5,000 an acre. So this is the plan of Deer Caye now - it was approved on December 4th 2007, just three weeks after that House meeting and shows the island cut up into blocks. Principal among those are 50 acres given to Horse Shoe Company, 50 acres to Jumbo Company and another 30 acres to DA Company. The Leader of the Opposition disclosed it at yesterday's House meeting.

Hon. Dean Barrow,
"There is grant number 1179 of 2007 to Jumbo Limited, a company at the corner of Orange Street and Water Lane in Belize City in the Belize District, 50.9 acres of land at Deer Caye north of San Pedro Town, Belize District, bounded and described as shown by plan number for the princely sum of $13,023.40. 50 acres of Caye Land.

I know for example with respect to the Deer Caye Range and the acres that they have transferred, these same people who bought for less than $250 an acre are selling now for US$5,000 an acre. So they do these transfers, the people turn right around and flip what they get from them. They give to these people for $250 an acre.

The second one is granted number 1177 of 2007. DA Holding Company Limited of 63 Albert Street Belize City, block number 2, 30.26 acres of land situated at Deer Caye north of San Pedro Town Belize City for the princely sum of $7,867.60. The third one Madam Speaker is grant number 1176 of 2007. Horse-Shoe Company Limited of 73 Albert Street, Belize City Belize District, block number 1. 100.56 acres of land situated at Deer Caye, north of San Pedro Tlown, Belize District, for the princely sum of $26,145.60.

He knew that this thing was a matter of public controversy because Channel 7 had actually shown us footage of pegs that were in the water surrounding one or other of the cayes in the Deer Caye Range. And so everybody including the environmentalists were up in arms."

Hon. Florencio Marin,
"Where the cayes are concerned, I also took a position that if development were to happen, we cannot tie capital and I instructed that section of the civil service that the cayes will be sold at $200 an acre to everybody that came around. There was no change up nor down. Why? As I said not to tie up capital but also developing cayes required a lot of money by the way of dredging to fill and improve the beaches for tourism development."

Hon. Manuel Heredia, Belize Rural South Area Rep.
"These potential developers that you are talking, I know several of them. They are developers. They are speculators that are sold the land for $200 and they turn around and sell it for $15,000 to $20,000 an acre. This land issue is not about empowering Minister. You are totally wrong in that. It is about making campaign monies; it is about enriching a few people. I will give you an example, jump in San Mateo, which is an area that I will regard as a ghetto in San Pedro, which is very unfortunate, in have seen the purchase prices that have been issued to those people. Low land, a piece of land, 50 by 75, $9,000, $11,000 - just recently. And you are talking about $200 an acre. Is that empowerment?"

And while Deer Caye was of particular interest to us, Barrow read a long list of special names who'd gotten special pieces of land and we'll have more on that in tomorrow's newscast.

Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 6,267
OP Offline
More news - this from Channel 7, transcript of Friday's evening broadcast. Suggest that folks start their day reading Channel 7 and Channel 5 evening news transcripts. You really do have to read both of them - Channel 7 has published two reports on the subject of these land transfers. Channel 5 has nothing at all on the subject.

Here is the article:


Barrow Exposes The Great Land Grab

But before we were pushed away, the PM did answer questions from another media house about what the leader of the Opposition called a land grab that's been happening under the Natural Resources Minister Florencio Marin. In case you missed it, at Wednesday's House meeting Barrow outlined some choice land transactions to friends of the government. Here's what he had to say and what Minister Marin said in response.

Hon. Dean Barrow, UDP Leader
"The name by which I am now known in their circles, Mr. Quitar. Well I want to tell yourself, members of this House and the nation exactly why to them I am now, always have been, and always will be, Mr. Quitar. I want Madam Speaker to talk about the record of giveaways, the land grab over which this Minister of Natural Resources has presided over the last few months. Because we have all the details I can give you the grant numbers for every single portion that I am talking about.

And then Madam Speaker when I turn the pages of my notes here, I find Nexus Development Company Limited, 0.88 acres on Dead Man's Caye. Again I didn't even know there was a Dead Man's Caye. Nexus Development Company Limited, grant 1103 of 2007, 0.27 acres and others. Dead Man's Caye: Nexus Development Company Limited, 93.110 acres Montego Caye. This is not helping the Belizean people and I will tell you who Nexus Development Limited is right now. The agent for Nexus Development is Francois Chebat, the campaign manager for the Prime Minister in the Fort George Constituency. He is also the agent for Marlin Reef Resort Development Limited, 45.032 acres, Dead Man's Caye. Marlin Reef Resort Limited another 50.305 acres Dead Man's Caye. Nexus Development Company Limited again, 0.35 acres. They've already grabbed up the land on Dead Man's Caye. This now 0.35 acres is on Caye Caulker.

Resort Investment Limited, grant no. 1169 of 2007, 232.6 acres on Blackbird Caye. And who was the agent for Resort Investment Limited, who did the pickup, Arnaldo Papi Pena. And you want us not to tell the Belizean that we are going to take away these things once they elect the UDP? Justice demands it, the poor people out there who can't get anything for themselves demand that we act properly.

Right after Resorts Investment Limited, Toledo Free Zone Limited. Again Arnaldo Papi Pena, we know who else is involved in that company with Pena, 461.22 acres west of Elridgeville. Then Madam Speaker there is a grant, we haven't been able to discover the exact acreage on Southern Long Caye to one Orlando Habet. Isn't that the name of the PUP candidate in the Cayo Northeast constituency?

And then we come to one Isidoro Galvez, otherwise known as Charlie Card, block number on Turneffe. That is the father of Isidoro Galvez Junior, who is the PUP candidate for the Cayo South constituency. Isidoro the father, gets this block 2 in the Turneffe. Isidoro the son, the standard bearer, gets block number 1 at Iguana Creek and he also gets grant 912 of 2007, 29.83 acres southeast of Arnaldo Road.

And then I actually have one here for Michael Espat. I only know one Michael Espat. Grant 899 of 2007, block 2, sea coast or Orange Point Ares Toledo, signed on the second of November of 2007. Malcolm Vasquez, 20.279 acres, Caye Caulker signed on the second of September 2007.

And then Madam Speaker we come to Mr. Karim Adele. Grant 877 of 2007, 3.932 acres, Great Monkey Caye, another name unfamiliar to me. Karim Adele again, grant 876 of 2007, a lot in San Ignacio. Miriam Adele, I imagine some relation to Karim Adele, lot in San Ignacio and Karim Adele again 874 of 2007, a lot in San Ignacio.

And then it ends up Madam Speaker with a household name, William Arthur Lindo, Bill Lindo. Yes unfortunately my cousin, like you said boy you could choose your friend but you can't choose your relatives, how that has haunted me. William Arthur Lindo, 85 acres on South Riders Caye. I close by saying again that this is the record of the PUP that the people of this country are concerned about."

Hon. Florencio Marin, Minister of Natural Resources
"I want to say here that I stand by my actions as Minister. I do not solicit any Belizean to come and ask me for any land. But when they come, I attend to them and if the land is available and if the land is available free of encumbrance, I have accommodated requests. And as long as I am there, this policy will continue. I will attend to everyone. What the Member from Queen's Square failed to report, I even attended to his son. I make no apologies for what I have done to serve the Belizeans in the best interest of the country and to develop Belize. With regards to names of other people being called, I had no fear whatsoever. He can continue to spy on the Ministry of Natural Resources as he has done so well. But just let me tell him something Madam Speaker, in this life what you sow is what you reap."

And speaking with the press yesterday, the Prime Minister did as expected, he defended the actions of his Minister of Natural Resources.

Rt. Hon. Said Musa,
"I support the decision to provide land to our people. Obviously we can get into a question about quantity and purchase price and all that, but certainly the policy of my government is to make land available to the Belizean people, especially those in need; who need a house lot, or who need a piece of farm land, because that is the way. Land is a very valuable resource and we do have to step up the distribution of land as we have been doing. And as we heard yesterday in the House, close to sixty thousand or more lots and parcels of land have been distributed by this Government."

Florencio Marin has said that he is retiring from electoral politics after this term.

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