And while they will be having that special meeting to talk about a high end resort on San Pedro – they won’t be talking about one of the most environmentally unsound areas in San Pedro. That’s the area known as San Mateo – a squalid backwater festering at the back end of the island. It’s the other San Pedro and when some volunteers who were doing social work on San Pedro saw it – they said they had to help. So the group of US volunteers committed to raise the money for to buy material so that roads can be created in San Mateo. Now, residents have formed a petition to get infrastructural help from the Ministry of Works. We put together this story with the assistance of our friends at the San Pedro Sun.

Jules Vasquez Reporting,
Seeing a scene like this, you’d think it was the Collet or Port Loyola area in Belize City but this is San Pedro – the underbelly of La Isla Bonita. The area is called San Mateo where dozens of London Bridges snake like streets through the mangrove swamps. The area was first settled about 12 years ago and is now home to an estimated three hundred residents. Everette Palacio is on of the first to come here.

Everette Palacio, Resident
“It is not too safe because as you can see the condition of the area, latrine wise especially like the water goes up and the tide is very high. Those latrines they overflow and the children in this neighbourhood traffic these bridges and sometimes they would fall in those waters and that’s not too healthy for those children.”

The problem is that there are no roads, and without that there can be no infrastructure.

“Without streets we cannot get electricity, we cannot get the proper sewer system, we cannot have the water sewerage and electricity.”

But now roads are being built. These dry brushy areas have already been cut – and that’s where the road will go down. The effort was initiated by the University of Mississippi which saw the suffering in the area and volunteered to fundraise to pay for materials. The work will have to come from the community.

“Instead of only depending on the volunteers, we decided to call upon our government and I am spearheading a list of names that I have already picked up to send it to the Minister responsible, the Ministry of Works.”

But why would anyone choose to live in this swamp? Palacio explained that it’s because of the cost of living.

Everette Palacio,
“Why would people come in and build, I believe that they are running away from the expense of renting a room here on the island because that is very killing.”

They report that the Town Council has agreed to assist with heavy equipment for the effort. We’ll keep following the project to see when the roads are actually put down.

Channel 7