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Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion

Posted By: Marty

Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/12/14 03:46 PM

GOB subdivides part of the proposed reserve area

The San Pedro Sun can confirm that a grant awarded to Hol Chan Marine Reserve by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) has been cancelled and is considered null and void. The grant of $199,500 was awarded to Hol Chan on October 7, 2013 for the management of the proposed expansion of the current marine reserve. The proposed ‘Ambergris Caye Wetlands Project’ expansion document has been before the Cabinet for the past three years but has yet to be signed into law. On the wake of the cancellation of the grant and delay of the signing of the proposed reserve, the Government of Belize (GOB) is surveying a part of the swamp and wetland to distribute housing lots within the proposed reserve.

The proposed expansion of Hol Chan would include Mexico Rocks, the wetland/swampland areas near Mata and Cayo Frances Lagoons (Conservation Area) and the shoal on the leeward side of Ambergris Caye. Combined, the three areas have an area of 370 square kilometers and the management zone of Hol Chan would expand to over 400 square kilometers when added to the existing Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The proposed expansion of Hol Chan would strengthen Belize’s conservation efforts since when signed into law, it would be a part of a larger corridor of protected areas which would border the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve and the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.


The PACT grant was slated to be used for the initial stage of the management of the proposed expansion of Hol Chan. The money was to be used for the purchase of additional patrol vessels and salary for the additional personnel for the first year. Now that proposed expansion has been shelved, and after an additional three months’ grace period was extended, PACT decided to cancel the grant.

Manager of Hol Chan Marine Reserve Miguel Alamilla did confirm that the grant was lost. He explained that the documents for the proposed reserve expansion were submitted to the Fisheries Department under the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, headed by Honorable Lisel Alamilla. He said that the Minister is responsible for taking the document to Cabinet, then to the House of Representative for it to be signed into law.

A letter dated July 28th leaked to The San Pedro Sun and addressed to Beverly Wade, Fisheries Officer indicated that PACT was cancelling the grant. “The Board considered that the project commencement is currently delayed by nine months and the reason for the delay is the legal expansion process which is outside your Department’s control…. Therefore, the Board has decided to withdraw the grant awarded for the execution of this project. Consequently, please be advised that the grant agreement entered into on the 7th of October 2013, is considered null and void,” stated the letter which was signed by Natalie Rosado, the Acting Director of PACT.

“We got the grant and were given the assurance by the Government of Belize that the proposed reserve expansion would have been approved and the Statutory Instrument (SI) would be signed into law,” stated Miguel Alamilla. He said that when the project initially went before Cabinet for consideration, some Ministers, including the Area Representative Manuel Heredia had some “concerns,” and as such the proposed reserve saw some “setbacks.” He indicated that those concerns were clarified, but over the past three years “dates after dates” have been set and changed for the proposed reserve to be signed into law.

The San Pedro Sun was also reliably confirmed that the Government of Belize, through the Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr., is working in collaboration with Council Severo “Severito” Guerrero in surveying over 40 acres of wetland/swampland within part of the propose reserve. The area, in which survey work has been carried out, is the southern portion of Area F, which is the proposed protected area along Mata and Cayo Frances Lagoons (Conservation Area).

The wetland/swampland is being subdivided with the intention to distribute residential lots. The concern was raised since the proposed subdivision, which is believed to be five times larger than San Mateo, would create yet another inadequate housing development for the island if the lots are distributed for future residential expansion. According to the source, by giving out the pieces of “swamp,” it would encourage people to build in yet another unplanned area without any form of infrastructure, thus creating a similar problem like San Mateo, but on a much larger scale.

The San Pedro Sun contacted Mayor Daniel Guerrero, who confirmed that a subdivision is being planned but said that the project is not a San Pedro Town Council project and is being conducted through Heredia Jr. The Sun also contacted Lisel Alamilla for comments. Alamilla responded by text message indicating that she is not aware of the subdivision since it falls under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture. When asked for further comments as to why the proposed reserve expansion has not been signed into law, she did not respond. The San Pedro Sun will be following up on this developing story.

San Pedro Sun

Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/12/14 05:24 PM

More info on the history of this is here;
//ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/486199/4.html

https://sites.google.com/site/accsdbze/proposed-marine-protected-areas
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/12/14 05:48 PM

The majority of voters are poorly educated and naive. They don't understand whats going on and believe politicians that tell then they will be given land for their votes. This is exactly the same pattern that created the San Mateo slum. Impoverished voters are told of how they will be empowered by owning land the government gives them and promised infrastructure at a later date as they take possession of uninhabitable swamp. In the case of San Mateo international agencies came to rescue inhabitants living in health hazards when government didn't come through with the promise of infrastructure. [Linked Image]
San Mateo Something our local government can be proud of.
They created this beautiful community by cutting down some old ugly mangroves.
Posted By: SFJeff

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/12/14 07:53 PM

A lot of people hide behind pseudonyms on mssg boards. So for those of you who do not know me, this is Jeff from Rojo Beach Bar/ Azul Resort. Hello all.

So the other afternoon I went to drive the road to Grand Belize estates (road going west on the island, just south of Indigo.) I wanted to see if I could see any tarpon rolling or bonefish tailing. I parked at the bridge and looked south. To my amazement, I saw three people walking in the middle of the lagoon. They looked to be carrying slings to spear fish... "Kind of a tough place to spearfish?" I thought... They were walking north towards the road. As they got closer I was like "Wait a minute...?" I realized they were not carrying spears... One was carrying a case, the other a tripod, the third a chainsaw. They were surveying. They were in water up to their chest.

"Want to take a picture of us for Facebook?" They yelled/joked...

I replied "Tough place to survey, you been out there all day?" They then realized I was not a tourist. I waited and they eventually got to the road.

"So who do you work for, Ken or someone or the town?"

"The Town..." they answered... Whether they meant the SPTB, GOB, who knows... We then talked about what they were doing. And what they are doing is (pardon my language Marty) absolutely [#%!] insane.

I mean I was there to FISH. This is the "land" they are giving away. Parts of it are four to five FEET under water. It is NOT swampland. It is a LAGOON. I've been there in boats before.

I looked around and then realized I saw dozens, if not a hundred survey stakes in the water.

So not only has the whole Cayo Francis Reserve been shit canned (thanks Heredia and anyone/everyone else responsible for stalling a genuinely great idea/effort to its ultimate death) but it's been replaced by what has the potential to make San Mateo look like the Hamptons.

So this is what buys you a vote here on this island? Really? You're given cheap title to a piece of land you will NEVER responsibly be able to inhabit and in return you check off the name of someone who obviously does not give a shit about the future of this island. Sad.

What's the point of improvements on the island, if we simultaneously green light disasters in the making such as this?

Sure, chances are, even if given title to the land, no one is going to build there for quite some time. I mean after all, it's under water. But at some point someone will halfheartedly fill then build. And then someone else. And it won't be done right. And it will be another disaster.

This island is being primed to be 300-400 feet of high $ development from the beach going west, abutted behind such by a sea of slums. Is that really what we want???



Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/12/14 09:36 PM

from a friend…

Note, pretty much the entire area you are looking at has been surveyed. It's confusing because it looks like mostly water, not "land." That's because it is. Zoom in on the pics and you can see all the stakes in the water. There are a couple shots looking back to the east. One is taken at the furthest WEST point that has been surveyed. You can see the tower behind Indigo to give you a scale of the area. The other is taken looking east from the bridge, about 40 feet past the last survey marker. In the pictures looking SOUTH, the survey markers go off for about as far as you can see in the distance. To get closer pics of all the markers I'd have to go by boat.

The markers are all but indistinguishable because they are far away. They are far away because I did not have a boat. Pretty much EVERYTHING you see in the pics looking south from the north and looking east from the west has been surveyed into lots.

Click any image to get a larger version....


As far west as was surveyed


Looking east from the bridge


Squint and you'll see survey stakes to the horizon


View looking south from road

Posted By: Maya House

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/12/14 10:32 PM

Heredia...yet another sell out! Makes me sick. He and Mayor Danny are absolutely thick as THIEVES, literally. You never see one without the other. And for whatever reasons, they are clearly only doing what the majority of elected politicians around the world do in this day and age. Get what they can get for their own personal gain. And we idiotically just keep voting them in, over and over. Freakin' 'sheeple'! Are we ever going to wake up.
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/13/14 12:47 AM

Now it seems less confusing why Heredia had this to say last year -
According to Minister Heredia, the proposed protected reserve should be handled in sections with a primary focus on Mexico Rock’s Marine Reserve. “We need to have as much space reserved to benefit the tourism industry but certain factors need to be addressed. These factors include the allocation of dredging areas,” said Heredia. “Mexico Rocks is ready and we need to move ahead with that, then we can move with the less controversial Cayo Frances/ Mata Frances Lagoons and finally we can tackle the Bajos area which is the most problematic because of dredging. The community has to remember that once this is legalized this will be the largest Marine Reserve in the country,” continue Heredia, “Once the proposal allocates areas for dredging for persons that own property within the area, the project has my full support.”
- He's gona need a little dredge for this area to be land.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/14/14 08:19 PM

Here is a background article on the creation of San Mateo subdivision.


August 10, 2000

http://www.sanpedrosun.com/old/00-321.html

San Mateo Phase II - Financially and Environmentally Unsound?

The San Mateo subdivision Phase II is being proposed on North Ambergris Caye on a 590-acre section of wetlands, lagoons and mangrove swamps. The plan calls for 308 lots to be "created" for housing. The site of this proposed subdivision has caused much controversy and criticism in recent months. The tract in question was given to local government by Caribbean Coves as a future tax credit. According to unconfirmed reports this area was given because the developers thought it to be undevelopable. This pristine acreage between Buena Vista and Punta Arena was designated as a conservation area in Ambergris Caye's Conceptual Master Plan of 1993. This "land" was also designated a site for protection in a Wildlife Sanctuary Expansion and Management Plan proposed by Green Reef, the local marine conservation group. That plan in turn, was endorsed only last year by both Mayor Alberto Nuñez of the San Pedro Town Council and Area Representative Patty Arceo, and subsequently the Belize Hotel and San Pedro Tourist Guide Associations. The "land" is composed of mainly wetlands, mangrove and lagoons that the coastal ecosystem depends on as a critical feeding and nesting ground. It is also a nursery and suspected spawning area for mutton snappers, cubera, bonefish and tarpon. Lobsters are often found in this area as well, since there are a number of sinkholes that tunnel out to the reef through underground waterways. Recreational activities include bird watching, hiking, kayaking and sport fishing as just a few of the many income earning eco-tourism benefits. The above reasons illustrate how development would negatively impact the environment and adversely affect the island's natural resources and economy in the process; by destroying wildlife habitats and sabotaging the eco-tourism market. Development of this area is also contrary to many international environmental agreements of which Belize is a member, including the International Ramsar Convention and the World Wildlife Fund. Proposed development of this area is already generating negative publicity from other countries and eco-conscious organizations which may result in the loss of future tourism dollars and jobs for the local population.

The need for decent land and housing is of great concern to all on Ambergris Caye. The San Mateo subdivision, as proposed will not give the residents of this island either but rather, will continue the cycle of slum conditions for the residents it was designed to help. As stated by the local Area Representative, the proposed San Mateo Subdivision will not be given basic infrastructure such as water and sewerage at this time. Residents who purchase a lot will not have access to clean, fresh water for cooking, bathing or drinking. Homeowners who currently live just on the other side of the cut of Ambergris Caye, are seen crossing the ferry daily, carrying five-gallon buckets, in search of water. The occupants of San Mateo will have to hike miles daily in order to secure potable water. With a lack of sewage and refuse disposal in a plan for a subdivision that is to contain 308 houses, the health risks to the residents of the island and visitors is tremendous along with being an environmental disaster in the making. Where is the waste and refuse to go? A series of canals are in the plans. This is very disturbing since a series of underground channels empty out to the reef. Without proper garbage and sewage disposal available it is feared the sewage and refuse will be dumped into these canals and eventually choke and destroy the reef. This area is also three feet below the flood line and subject to storm surge and erosion. Our Area Representative stated government will not fill this land which can only mean the landowners will be responsible to have it filled. Observing other subdivisions on Ambergris Caye shows that, usually, people do not have the money to properly fill their lots, and subsequently trash or any other material available is used, compounding the contamination to, and destruction of, the environment. It has been stated that this subdivision was to be a model, that other subdivisions were poorly planned and lacked the proper infrastructure along with having a negative environmental effect. This subdivision, as proposed, except for destroying a unique area of our eco-tourism market and possibly losing local jobs, is said to mirrors all the mistakes of the past.

The Department of Environment, Coastal Zone Management Authority/Institute, Fisheries, Lands and Forestry Departments have all visited Ambergris Caye and made a visual inspection of the site, most by kayak. DOE issued their report in May of this year denying environmental clearance for this project. All preliminary reports from subsequent agencies indicate the same conclusion; this land is not suitable for development, as it would have a detrimental effect on the environment and be cost prohibitive. At a meeting held in May of this year, attended by Green Reef, Area Representative Patty Arceo, members of the Belize Hotel Association and concerned citizens, it was stated by our Area Representative that an EIA would be requested before any final decision on the project would be made. At press time no EIA has been requested or ordered for this project yet it is rumored from San Pedro to Belmopan to be a "done deal". Mr. Mito Paz, President of Green Reef had this to say at one of many meetings dedicated to this controversy: "In essence our natural resources bring tourism, tourism breeds employment which brings workers to the island, which in turn brings a need for development and necessitates a need for land to build on. But if we destroy the reason that tourism is here (our natural resources), we will not have a need for any of the rest."

Editors note: According to government's own Environmental Checklist this area would NEVER be a suitable site for development. If government does not follow the proper procedures and laws they made, how can they be enforced on private individuals or companies? Will the hotels proposed on North Ambergris Caye with a total of 500 rooms have to have an EIA done before construction begins? Will they need to have the basic infrastructure such as water, refuse and sewage disposal in place? Or will they be allowed to save millions of dollars by digging a canal and using the ocean as their toilet? Will this set a precedent for any home-owner or resort that wants to cut costs by saving thousands in water bills by disposing of their sewage into the ocean?

There is no logical reason to destroy this land, local jobs and the environment along with costing the taxpayers millions of dollars trying to make this land semi-inhabitable and at the same time condemning its inhabitants to slum conditions. There is plenty of GOOD government-owned land available on Ambergris Caye. The Ambergris Caye Conceptual Master Plan of 1993 designated the land to the west of the proposed subdivision site as a satellite town. The area is high, dry land that has the proper foundation to build on and is five times the size of San Pedro proper. It is the area most residents feel would be best suited to build on and would do the least amount of damage to the environment. Like any properly planned housing development it will need to have the proper infrastructure in place. It is a way to have your cake and eat it too by balancing the environment and development without sacrificing either. The million-dollar question is, why is this government-owned land not available to the people of Belize? The answer remains a mystery.

It is time to let your elected officials know how you feel about this project before it is too late. They are elected, by you, to serve you. Call, write letters or e-mail your Town Council ([email protected]), Area Representative ([email protected]) and Minister Briceño ([email protected]) with your opinion. What happens to your island is your decision, but if you do not speak out now, you will not have lost your voice, you will have given it away.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/15/14 11:27 AM

Here are more articles from the San Pedro Sun on San Mateo from the year 2000. Makes interesting reading.

These articles from 2000 showi how much effort was put to protect those wetlands, but the area rep and local government still went ahead to create a slum as predicted by Green Reef.

San Mateo put on hold
http://www.sanpedrosun.com/old/01-23a.html

Development vs. Environment
http://www.sanpedrosun.com/old/00-182.html

Natural resourses reports on wetland issue.
http://www.sanpedrosun.com/old/00-181.html

San Mateo Subdivision Plan disclosed
http://www.sanpedrosun.com/old/00-251.html

San Mateo explained and debated:
http://www.sanpedrosun.com/old/00-222.html

From Wetlands to Subdivision in North Ambergris Caye?
http://www.sanpedrosun.com/old/00-171.html
Posted By: SFJeff

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/15/14 02:56 PM

Thank you Marty.

I certainly hope this matter gets deserved attention in the weeks to come.

Residents on the island need to recognize that this has NOTHING to do with red or blue, with party affiliation. Arguably, on a deeper level, it has little to do with politics at all. People need to realize that if things like this are allowed to happen ultimately it is not the politicians who are to blame, rather, the community as a whole. We are to blame, as we are willing accomplices if we sit passive and silent, resigned to thinking such things as "inevitable" or the "result of growth and progress."

What is on the brink of happening is tragic on numerous fronts. The land in question will NEVER be able to be inhabited responsibly. Who here would willingly condemn their children or grandchildren a daily life in substandard, unhealthy conditions? Anyone? Please, ask this to one of our elected officials next time you see them on the street, either party, it does not matter... ask them "How much $ would it take for you to ensure that the future of YOUR children or YOUR grandchildren is bleaker, worse than it is now?" I'm sure they would look at you aghast and and say there is no price that is worth such. Yet that is exactly what they are doing. What we are allowing them to ensure.

This island and ALL of us are 100% dependent upon tourism. That is not a brilliant new insight, we all know that. But lets put that statement into perspective for a moment...

In terms of basic needs, Ambergris Caye produces nothing of significance. We grow not the food to feed ourselves or our families. Virtually everything that you and I and everyone else enjoys at meals every day is brought to the island in some way or another, save for seafood, which itself is becoming scarce. The island does not have enough fresh water to quench our collective thirst. We're dependent upon foreign electricity to purify such. Fuel to run our boats, propane to light our stoves, all are imported. There are no trees on the island to be harvested from which lumber can be made. Everything to build our homes is brought from somewhere else. Even the sand used to mix concrete has to come from rivers on the mainland. The chickens we stew, the beer and rum we enjoy, all come from elsewhere. This list can go on and on...

Arguably, we enjoy one and only one significant resource. The island itself. This island, the reef and waters that surround it, the nature that it encompasses, this is the ONLY resource we enjoy. Any and EVERY decision that it made to its detriment, takes away from EVERYONE residing here. Each and every action allowed for short term gain but at the expense of long term sustainability is being paid for by everyone's children and grandchildren.

The GOOD thing is these challenges are by NO MEANS be insurmountable. Ambergris after all, despite the growth of the last decade, is still by any standard of the world a SMALL community. We need to start acting as such, a community. Forget the free t-shirts and recognize party affiliation is meaningless. Do I expect that the island as a whole can segue into synchronized harmony? No. Do I expect that there will no longer be boisterous shouting matches during meetings at the Lion's Den? Heavan's forbid not, as discourse is very often a much needed catalyst for positive change.

For better or worse though, everyone who lives here now, and plans to live here in the future, is all in this together.

The sooner we recognize such, the sooner we become stewards to protect, nurture and conscientiously enjoy the only true resource we have.

Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 10:47 AM

Government offering submerged lots in northern Ambergris Caye

There is a developing story tonight out of San Pedro where the government is offering submerged lots in northern Ambergris Caye.  As incredible as it sounds, there are numerous pegs in the water in an area known as Sunset Cove. Forty acres of the swampy wetland have been surveyed for residential lots, but no one is owning up to this proposed subdivision. Mike Rudon was in San Pedro today and files the following report.

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This is an area known as Sunset Cove. It’s about four miles north of San Pedro Town, six hundred acres of mostly swamp, mangroves and lagoon. The wetland known as Los Bajos is prime fishing grounds where avid or amateur anglers are sure to get their lines on permit, tarpon or bonefish.

Omar Arceo, Tour Guide

“This area is a small bony fish lagoon where I am standing now. I came in the morning and tried to hook a couple bonefish and it is also a natural habitat for the bone fish, juvenile tarpon and we have a couple barracudas, snappers and crana.”

Omar Arceo

Mike Rudon

“I understand that they are planning a subdivision in this area…they already have the survey pegs down. How will this affect your industry?”

Omar Arceo

“Well it will affect it a hundred percent because it is going to kill the natural habitat of the fish that lives here, especially the bonefish that we are looking for and also the juvenile fishes that are making their lives here. This is an incubator, mangrove surrounds it and it is a small incubator for juvenile fish.”

Incredibly, there are now survey pegs all over the wetlands. Forty acres have allegedly been subdivided to provide lots for residents. Here’s one lot already fenced, though it would better serve as swimming pool than a residential parcel. We circled for at least hours…we found lots of pegs, lots of lagoon and lots of mangroves, but really no land…well actually there is land, only it’s under three feet of water. Still, any proposed development in this area is bad news on the tourism front.

Omar Arceo

“It’s very, very sad to see this survey division. It is sad because we are going to end to zero. We are not going to see no more this natural habitat of the bonefish because people will come and live here and they will destroy it. And the ones that already make it already destroy the environment. So that is why it is very important for us to conserve this small lagoon where we can come and fish for bonefish and any other fish.”

There’s actually a bigger issue. These wetlands have been proposed as a reserve area under the Hol Chan Marine Reserve system. The Protected Areas Conservation Trust had actually approved a grant for the expansion of this area. That grant was declared null and void because the status of the wetlands as a reserve has been before Cabinet for the past three years.

Elito Arceo, Former President, ACCSP

Elito Arceo

“For the past couple years, about two and half to three years, Hol Chan itself—Hol Chan is a national park—has been looking at going through an expansion phase and part of those areas was going to be the expansion of Hol Chan. And what I have gathered from the media the past couple days is that the grant that was given by PACT to Hol Chan was actually cancelled. So we are inquiring about it and that’s when we found out that there are surveying pegs in the lagoon. That’s our only resource that we have. It is the only thing that actually feeds the reef; that makes all of us live on this island that we call our home. It is very important for us to find areas like that to protect and conserve it and as you can tell, it is quite a large area of lagoon that is proposed to be filled for people’s lots.”

The wetlands are important, we were told, because they feed the reef, meaning that they act as a natural hatchery.

Elito Arceo

“All the mangrove areas are natural habitats for many fishes…all the babies are born there that eventually make their way towards the reef. So areas like those especially, are very critical for the reef itself; for the growth and life for the barrier reef which of course are a source of pride for all of us in Belize.”

Environmental issues aside, the lots are under water. The survey posts were in most cases completely submerged, and the only access to the new submerged lots is by boat. So whose bright idea is this subdivision? Mayor of San Pedro, Daniel Guerrero, says for sure it wasn’t his.

Daniel Guerrero

Daniel Guerrero, Mayor, San Pedro Town

“I have no comments on that. I am not involved. I have no clue what the deal is. All I know is the San Mateo from this side coming in.”

Reporter

“Sir, have you been informed of any housing project in that area?”

Daniel Guerrero

“I have no comments on it.”

We were informed that the subdivision is the brainchild of Minister of Manuel Heredia. He didn’t answer our calls or text requests for an interview on this matter. Mike Rudon for News Five.

Channel 5


San Pedro Environmentalists Have A Major Issue

Tonight, environmentalists on San Pedro are sounding the alarm on a situation, which is developing on the Island.

It includes a part of the island, which was supposed to be set aside as a protected area, but is now under threat of being used for housing development.

The area has been closely studied and tested to check its importance to the marine ecosystem which surrounds Ambergris Caye. An environmental protection plan, known as the Ambergris Caye Wetlands Project Expansion, has been completed for at least 3 years now, and it has been before Cabinet for several months pending approval. That governmental approval has not been forthcoming, and that caused another problem to develop.

This Wetlands Project Expansion was supposed to become apart of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, co-managed by The Fisheries Department and the Management of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Their current reserve area includes areas sectioned off, and named from Zones "A" to "D". Those include coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests and lagoon habitats. The Wetlands Project Expansion would have added a new Zone F, and in October 2013, PACT, the Protect Areas Conservation Trust awarded Hol Chan Marine Reserve's Management with a 199 thousand dollar grant.

Because Hol Chan couldn't get the Wetlands Project off the ground, PACT pulled it's grant and requested that Hol Chan give back the money.

But now, a small part of that same area which would have made up Zone "F" has been surveyed, reportedly to be distributed as house lots to residents on San Pedro. We say reportedly because nobody in the different high offices involved wants to address this situation.

But, there is a very important environmental element to this story, and today, our news team went out to San Pedro to see the area for themselves. They returned an hour before news time, but Daniel Ortiz was able to put together a few excerpts of what they saw. Here's his story:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
All of this that you're currently looking at is the Sun Set Cove area of Ambergris Caye. By now, it should have been a part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, but it's been caught in governmental red tape for months.

Finally, the grant funding awarded to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve to include it as part of the area under protection was pulled. That by itself is cause for concern, but now, this very important wetland habitat is being looked at a possible housing area.

Nobody from Government would discuss it with us today, but it's hard to argue with the survey pegs already in the water.

It's already subdivided to be distributed as lots, but really there is no land here, unless you consider what is covered by 3 feet of lagoon water.

The reserve is the brain child of the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable development, and its former President says he can't the reasoning of destroying an ecosystem like this for a poorly planned housing project.

Elito Arceo - Former President, ACCSD
"All the mangroves areas are natural habitats for many fishes; all the babies are born there and eventually make their way towards the reef, areas like those are very critical for the reef itself; for the growth and life of our barrier reef which of course is pride for all of us in Belize. It would have basically tie in Hol Chan, it would have been expansion of Hol Chan which are the low laying areas for the fishes and Mexico Rocks in another area that was proposed for many years of part of the new marine reserve."

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"Explain to me now, apart from the environmental aspect of it, what sense does it make to you that basically these survey posts, just looking at it, I am from Belize City, but looking at it there are survey posts in the water. You can't imagine how people will actually live there."

Elito Arceo - Former President, ACCSD
"And that's a very good point because look at it this way, this is the largest island in Belize. There is good land here. People need a place to live and to call home and they should be provided that, with good land. What we are look at it is an area and you can tell is a lagoon and there are areas on this island presently like San Mateo or by the Marina Road south of town that 15 years into it there is no infrastructure, not even a light. So to get into another one which is about 5 times larger with no kind of planning - It doesn't make sense. Plan it and give the people land, they need the land, but you have to give them the land and not a lagoon."

Tomorrow, we'll have more on this story as we dig deeper into the social significance of this proposed housing area. Plus, we'll try to get comment from every official personalities involved in this area which should have become a protected reserve, some of whom have already declined comment to other media houses.

Channel 7

Posted By: SFJeff

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 12:26 PM

The community on the island has to realize that it is NOT TOO LATE. We do not have to sit idle and watch the SAME mistakes repeated over and over when it comes to development and the impact it has upon the island and our environment. With proper planning major problems can be avoided in the first place. Sometimes the solutions are obvious. Such is the case here.

Re-name the area!!!

I mean who thought of "Sunset Cove" anyway. All we need to do is rename the area with the word "San" followed by something, anything... whatever is appropriate or catchy, "Chingado" perhaps, that has a nice ring to it! Welcome to "San Chingado!"

See, this way we can go BACK to Morgan Freeman and Ole Miss... We can proudly exclaim "Morgan, students, teachers, we have learned from our mistakes and we will are NOT going to repeat them!!!" Then, rather than having to re-record an entirely new PSA to raise awareness and funds to fix the new disaster, we just need to ask Morgan Freeman to record one more simple word, "chingado." We can then have Ben and Joanna at Island Films re-edit the video that was made for the "San Mateo Empowerment Project" and we'll have a new video already in the can so to speak for the "San Chingado Empowerment Project!" And conveniently, Heredia ALREADY APPEARS in the video, so no additional effort on his part is needed! After all, he's already done enough...

C'mon Morgan, it's not like we're asking a lot... Just one more little word. Chingado.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 01:56 PM

Jeff - I understood the first paragraph but could you translate the rest for those of us who didn't share whatever you had for breakfast?

I indeed hope that it is not too late because after 3 years of good efforts, non-political good work, win-win-win proposals, this mess just can't be allowed to proceed.

We do not need more places for people to live at this time - that is a total fallacy. We have more people than we have jobs, not enough classrooms for the kids, and difficult logistics in case of natural disaster. Further we have shortages in virtually every aspect of infrastructure.
If you want to buy votes then do it by doing good and necessary things - start by opening the water-taxi terminal, upgrade the schools, fight crime - that we need. I actually thought things were headed in the right direction until this idiotic plan surfaced.
Posted By: SFJeff

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 02:14 PM

Diane: I had chaya and eggs for breakfast, which I shared with our dog Ranger.

That said, I was referring to the public service announcement that Morgan Freeman narrated on behalf of Ole Mis...

this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8POSp2nhTc ...everyone should watch it.

It was a video made to show the extraordinary effort to build roads in the disaster we allowed to happen called San Mateo.

My (sarcastic) suggestion above, was that if we renamed this new area San 'something', then we can simply re-use the same (slightly re-edited) video all over again. IE, we're making the same exact mistakes, save this time it is on a larger scale with a different name.

I hope Morgan's not all booked up.
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 02:45 PM

Citizens are going to the Town Board, paying for this survey and promised by Hereida that they will get a lease for one of the lots that will roll over into a title. The fee is $550.bz but partial payment will get you on the list.
[Linked Image]
Apparently without our Mayors knowledge.
Posted By: SFJeff

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 02:49 PM

Elbert,

It's my understanding that there are 600 lots and pretty much all are accounted for. At $550 a piece, that's one expensive survey.

I hope come this AM a lot of folks are asking for their $$$ back.
Posted By: Loansum-Al K

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 03:00 PM

They are all a bunch of back pedaling snakes...........
Posted By: Maya House

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 06:21 PM


Daniel Guerrero, Mayor, San Pedro Town
I have no comments on that. I am not involved. I have no clue what the deal is. All I know is the San Mateo from this side coming in.

Sir, have you been informed of any housing project in that area?

Daniel Guerrero
I have no comments on it.


"No clue." "No comments." SERIOUSLY!
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/16/14 11:39 PM

Yes , I'm sure if he had time to think about it he would see it's better tell the truth than insult your audience with an obvious bold face lie. Stepping in a big pile of steaming controversy just before the election is the last thing he would want but to " No Comment" " No Clue" on a question so important put him high on the suspected involvement list. I hope everyone understands the area is in San Pedro the town he's Mayor of. From his remarks to the San Pedro Sun you might think it's not in his jurisdiction.
Posted By: Chris

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/17/14 12:45 AM

A few weeks ago in the pet parrot controversy thread I made the following statement: "When it comes to real wildlife conservation, Belize is completely faux."

Proof, if any was needed, is right here for everyone to see.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/17/14 11:15 AM

GOB makes a quiet move to subdivide part of proposed reserve

he Co-Chair of the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) Phillip “Billy” Leslie has remained quiet over a portion of a proposed reserve wetland that is being surveyed for housing lots. The area in question is 40 acres in size and sits on the southern tip of Area F of the proposed expansion of Hol Chan Marine reserve originally known as the Ambergris Caye Wetlands. The project was spearheaded by the ACCSD. Prospective parcel holders are being charged a total of $550 in survey and inspection fees, for a small parcel of submerged wetland that has been surveyed with the permission of the Government of Belize (GOB).

ACCSD co-chair Billy Leslie has refused to comment, indicating that he was unaware of the PACT grant that was cancelled and about the new subdivision in the proposed reserve. He said that he would not respond to “rumors.” However, several sources indicated that Leslie has been aware of the two issues since he was present at a stakeholders’ meeting where both issues were raised.

One person who played a vital role in the process for the proposed reserve expansion is former President of the ACCSD, Elito Arceo. Not only is Arceo disappointed that ACCSD has refused to comment on something that was the brainchild of the environmental organization, but said that he is disappointed that their hard work is being threatened. “When you offer people property, they get the impression that it is dry land and what is being offered is not even swamp, but lagoon. Indeed our residents need land, and sure, give them the land, but give them land on which they can build, live on and with all necessary infrastructures in place. This island is big, and if government is serious about giving good land, they can because the island has high and good land on northern Ambergris Caye,” said Arceo. He added, “Dates after dates have been set aside for the signing of the SI, and as you can see, a couple years down the road, nothing has happened. It is unfortunate and shameful.”

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun

Posted By: JZB

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/17/14 12:29 PM

Minister Heredia should be ashamed of himself. A fisherman himself who is now the minister of TOURISM should have been fighting for the marine reserve with every fiber of his being. ITS HIS JOB. Not the opposite. SAD
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/17/14 12:51 PM

If memory serves me correctly, public outcry stopped the South Beach debacle and the ruination of Congrejo Caye.
Step up, speak out - support and encourage the fishermen and tour guides to make a stand. They know what they are loosing more than anybody.


Posted By: Loansum-Al K

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/19/14 01:01 PM

Don't stop the carnival........what a bunch of clowns......if they only listened to what they say.....ignorance at it's best.
Posted By: SFJeff

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/19/14 01:18 PM

Upon inspection everyone concerned will immediately see that the water is NOT at all "above normal." I mean yes, levels fluctuate a bit, peaking roughly twice a day, curiously in seemingly some sort of direct relation to the phase of the moon at the moment? But the levels seem all very "normal", what they probably have been at for a very long time. Much in the same manner that the level of the water at the end of our dock is pretty much "normal" (though perhaps shallower than the area in debate.)
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/19/14 01:40 PM

No need to push the water once we have blown the dam. I think now to have the Reserve go forward all is necessary is to have Belize Minister of Forestry, Fisheries & Sustainable Development Lisel Alamilla sign it and I think it's on her desk and has been for some time, What's up Lisel ? am I wrong?
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/19/14 05:20 PM

WHO ARE THE 150 PEOPLE who were able to buy lots? These 150 were able to afford $550.00 each to pay for the survey?
This does not sound to me like "the people who need land." This sounds more like the island elite who already own lots of land that they then turn around and sell to developers then cry out that developers are taking away the land from 'the people.'

How were these people selected? Where does the word 'transparency' fit in this scenario?

When and where did these seemingly 'secret' meetings take place. Did these people know they were buying waterway?

So you may say 'that's just the way it is done here.' And I say remember when parents lashed their children and husbands beat their wives because it was just the way it was done here? I say grow up. Perhaps practice the religion you preach.


FRIENDS OF AC: The spot light must be kept on this - all aspects and all persons involved. Good investigating so far.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/25/14 11:06 AM

Junior Heredia Has a “Plan B” For “Zone F”

A week ago, we told you about the land and conservation dispute on San Pedro. The issue involved a housing project, which the Area Representative Manuel Junior Heredia intended to put in an area set aside as a Wetland Reserve, one which was never formally recognized by the Government. As we told you, this wetland area, which features mangrove forests and a sprawling lagoon, was supposed to be part of Zone F expansion for the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The plans were drafted up, and funding was already secured, but, supposedly because of Government red tape, the reserve was never signed into law by a statutory instrument. The environmentalists who have been following the project closely soon unearthed a planned housing area in part of the wetland reserve known as Sunset Cove. A survey was already commissioned, and the lagoon was parceled off, but the environmentalists sounded the alarm. Soon after, when we spoke with Heredia, he told us that he was rethinking the plan to put the housing project in that area. We didn't get a chance to ask all our questions because he was minutes away from boarding the last flight to San Pedro last week Tuesday evening. So, today, when we caught up with him at another event, we took the opportunity to continue to the conversation. He told us last week that he had not yet visited the area he planned to turn into a housing project. So, we asked him why hadn’t, given that the critics of this project says that it is a highly unsuitable location given that the supposed lots were submerged under 3 feet of water. Here's what he told us:

Daniel Ortiz

"Why exactly didn't you visit the area before so that you can tell if the location is appropriate or not? Because it is under water."

Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. - Area Representative, Belize Rural South

"The mapping section in natural resources will usually show the layout of what you will do. And just like the camera shows in google and we agreed that anything that is above normal will be removed and I said to you all in San Pedro. As soon as we decide what will be done or if we will do it any at all, then we will decide what can be given and what cannot be given."

Daniel Ortiz

"There was the concern that this particular location will become another San Matio because it is inappropriate because of the water in the area. You as a minister, would you not want to choose locations that are higher up, higher land that is more appropriate for housing?"

Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr.

"If there was anything better in anywhere to be given, definitely it would happen. But let me tell you, where I live is right downtown now, you know what that was before? Swamp, where they use to throw garbage and anything. Most of the area from Boca Del Rio, all the way to San Pablo area, that was land that was worst then over there and it today it has become a community. It might not be suitable, but there are two ways to go, either you go up or you spread around. San Pedro for some reason believe that we do not want higher rise in San Pedro. What we want is cap it at a certain height and I said that anything is possible as long as you do it right."

"On the record, There is nobody that can say that Mr. Heredia has done anything that is in the interest of our people. Even after the media has commented, people have still been commenting, minister don't worry about what they say, what we want is a place to stay. But I do believe, that as a former fisherman and as a person who loves the environment, I have been involved in a lot environmental thing that has been done on the island. One, Hol Chan Marine Reserver, which is the best on the island and Bacalarchico was a part of that. In this same initiative about the other expansion of Hol Chan, I was a pioneer into that. Before that most of the shores was a nesting for boats, I was the one with approval of cabinet had that taken back and now we want to make sure it is conserved. "

Heredia told us that Cabinet has to sign off on his Plan B, which he refuses to discuss with the media this time since it is in its infancy.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/25/14 11:23 AM

Heredia Says He Supports Proposed Reserve Status…

There is some confusion which Minister Manuel Heredia seems unwilling to clear up where the wetlands of Los Bajos are concerned. When News Five spoke to Heredia last week, he blamed the P.U.P. for breaking the news about the subdivision being underwater. And today, he blamed the media cameras for making things look worse than they are. But what he hasn’t been able to explain is why he initiated a subdivision in that particular area. As we’ve told you, those wetlands form part of a proposal for a marine reserve expansion which is currently before Cabinet awaiting approval. Ironically, Heredia claims to support that proposal, even as he continues to defend the subdivision planned there.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Area Representative, Belize Rural South

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“The way we have done things over there, the mapping section in natural resources would usually show you the layout of what you will do and just like the cameras show you over there in the Google that was presented showed look and we agreed that all the, anything that is above normal will be removed and I said it to you all in San Pedro, as soon as we will decide what will be done or we will do it any at all, then we will decide what can be given and what cannot be given. But on the record, there is nobody that can say that Mister Heredia has done anything that is not in the interest of our people. Even after the media had commented or done everything, people were still coming to me and saying Minister no worry about what they were saying; what we want is a place to stay. But I do believe as a former fisherman, as a person of the environment, I have been involved in a lot of the environmental things that have been on the island, one Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is the best on the island. This initiative about the other expansion of Hol Chan, I was a pioneer in that. As I mentioned before, before that, all the shoals, most of the shoals were sold. Los Salones which was a nesting for birds, I was the one with the approval of cabinet that had that taken back and now we want to make sure that it is conserved. But what really happened is that the group wanted to expand as much as possible and that is where I think there was some resistance not only from one or two of my colleagues, but other ministries where probably their jurisdiction overlapped with the others. But overall, I believe that the shoals, and particularly the lagoons, need to be conserved for future generations to come. But there is no one from any party on the island that can say that they can match me when it comes to doing things for the betterment of my community.”

Later in our newscast we’ll take an in-depth look at another subdivision which was started in 1997 on the island. Today San Mateo is considered a slum of the island, and many of the residents still have no running water, electricity or sewerage facilities.  


Welcome to San Mateo…San Pedro Subdivision Turned Slum…

San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is a renowned tourism destination, the favourite of foreign visitors from every corner of the globe. Nestled alongside the world’s second largest barrier reef, and the largest in the hemisphere, the island offers tourists their choice of five star resorts, every amenity known to man and world class snorkelling, fishing and diving. But the old cliché holds true on this beautiful paradise – progress beings problems. The growth spurt in tourism has resulted in a massive influx of Belizeans who seek to take advantage of the industry – and they all need somewhere to live. So on this island, unparalleled luxury and wealth share space with undeveloped slums and unbelievable poverty. Our News Five team travelled to San Pedro last week, to a small subdivision known as San Mateo. What we found there was shocking. Mike Rudon has that story. 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

La Isla Bonita, caressed by tropical island breezes and nature wild and free, has been immortalized in song by Madonna. It is a playground of the rich, a thriving tourism mecca. There seems no end to the island’s potential as one of the world’s premiere destinations. Just north of San Pedro Town, five star resorts and condominiums are popping up just about as fast as construction materials can be brought in by barge.

This bridge, where a toll of ten dollars is charged for crossing, provides access to all that unbridled luxury. And it also provides access to San Mateo – a subdivision where the stench of garbage is a rude wake-up call.

For approximately one thousand residents, San Mateo IS home – the only home they know. Many of them have been here since 1997, when this area was just lagoon and swampland.

Daisy Cacho

Daisy Cacho, San Mateo Resident

“I da the first person back ya. When we mi first come live back ya, whole a ya da mi lagoon. Whole a dis area da mi lagoon. Dem time we have to walk inna deep water…swamp. We go way down to ya fu try to get right ya weh part we deh. We used to go through alligator, big snake…all kinda thing fu get back ya.”

The subdivision is covered with garbage. Many of the homes are little better than listing shacks built on mounds of rotting trash or swamp. In places where the lagoon has not been beaten back, the homes are connected with networks of London Bridges. It is incredible to imagine people raising their families here. Even more incredible is the knowledge that things used to be much worse. Just a couple years back, there were no streets in San Mateo, only these precariously perched wooden bridges.

Glenda Rancharan, Community Health Worker

“The conditions back here have really improved as to health-wise because we used to have a lot of outbreaks back here. From the time I’ve been here I’ve noticed tremendous improvements. We had bridges and now we have roads that we can walk.”

Glenda Rancharan

Daisy Cacho

“Ih really rough fu we Sir…ih really rough. But as how the people deh tell we..the Minister and Mayor…they tell we ihwah be better because they seh whole a back ya wah be street…dis da just fu now fu full up di lagoon because whole ah ya da mi lagoon…dis whole place da mi lagoon by itself. So as far as now dis plenty better, because we neva mi believe dat dis mi wah full but they did it.”

As hard as it may be to accept, for residents of San Mateo the garbage is a good thing. It is trucked in by the Town Council and used as land-fill. As evil and overbearing as the stench of rotten garbage becomes, it is a necessary evil – and an unhealthy one.

Daisy Cacho

“Lee bit a da water woulda get pon fu we foot…yu see how I deh walk pon dey stick and everything…da water get pon fu we foot an ih itch…ih itch and if yu continue scratch it when yu see something come pon yu foot. I wah yu see my bwoy foot right now. He no deh ya mek yu see it. He gawn out deh. I wah yu see fu he foot. Ih badly off because a dis water right ya. And da noh only adults…da kids.”

Very few of the homes in San Mateo have running water, electricity and septic tanks. Very few of the residents can afford it. Pastor Everett Palacio has been in San Mateo for sixteen years. He is one of the fortunate few, relatively speaking.

Everett Palacio

Everett Palacio, San Mateo Resident 

“Most of the people here are developers of the island. They work either in the hotels, in the restaurants, in construction. People of this area are really hard working people. Most of the days you won’t find a lot of people at home because they are working. One of the issues that I have taken up with our Area Representative Mr. Heredia is mein, how much harder do they want the residents of San Mateo to work, or to put in. We have been putting in so much into our property. We pay the most in utility bills.”

Daisy Cacho, and many other residents of San Mateo, can’t afford it.

Daisy Cacho

“That da the roughest part a fu we life back ya, especially some ah we…or I coulda seh majority cause nearly majority…only a few people back ya gat water and light and soh but they noh really gat the light pon fu dem personal part…they deh get light from people way yonder. If yu notice dey long wire deh…da light weh they deh get from people wah front deh.”

Glenda Rancharan

“Number one, we need light. There are a lot of children going to school. If you can look at the wiring it is very, very dangerous because if we have a storm and we get one strike of lightning on one of those wires and fire starts…remember most of these houses are plywood…they will burn. I would like to see light, and I would like to see everybody in this area get proper septics and proper filling. And I think a lot of it has to do with our government helping.”

It is help these residents need…assistance with the things many of us take for granted.

Daisy Cacho

“I woulda really wah walk, and walk safe and proud that I know dat nothing noh wah bite me and nothing noh wah juke me. Yu know. And mek I could stay home and noh deh smell no kinda funkiness and they thing, because people weh deh back ya and no gat sewerage…they stool inna bucket and dash they inna di lagoon. From me…mek a put een myself…from me dat da weh I have to do.”

Everett Palacio

“San Mateo truly needs the proper infrastructure. Lands need to be filled. So they need to pay more attention to us in San Mateo.”

Glenda Rancharan

“We need help. It’s just like any rural community. The people of this community need government help. We really do. We really do need government help back here.”

The terrible reality is that it is unlikely that the requested assistance will arrive anytime soon. Literally minutes away from broken down shacks, garbage, swamp, the stench of faeces and poverty…a seven million dollar road project is underway to service the resorts of Northern Ambergris because that, simply, is the priority of the authorities.

Daniel Guerrero

Daniel Guerrero, Mayor, San Pedro Town

“I am a great believer that we supposed to first nurture the industry, because it is the industry that brings the money in. Without the industry, San Mateo, and not only San Mateo but San Pablo and none of the other subdivisions would exist. Maybe all this influx of people coming onto the island would have to vacate, because if we cripple the industry we are a total mess, because this island totally depends on tourism. Tourism is the bread and butter of the island so we have to nurture the tourism industry. I was the one that decided let’s go north, together with the Area Rep. We decided let’s go north and make sure we service all the hotels because these are the big hotels bringing all the money. They pay all the bills. They are the ones paying the bills.”

For the wealthy tourists who will visit those resorts, Ambergris Caye is La Isla Bonita. It is unlikely that they will ever visit San Mateo….a forgotten slum on that beautiful island. Mike Rudon for News Five.

Many of the roads in San Mateo were constructed by students of the University of Mississippi who fundraised for the road project. 


Manuel Heredia Visits Subdivision Site in San Pedro

Last week News Five showed you a proposed subdivision in the Sunset Cove area four miles north of San Pedro Town. Forty acres have been surveyed for a total of three hundred and nineteen lots. One hundred and fifty persons have paid five hundred and fifty dollars each towards the survey. The only thing is that the lots are underwater – completely underwater…which makes the subdivision a distinctly unlikely proposition, even a ridiculous one. Strangely, when we spoke to Heredia last week he admitted that he had never even visited the site, and planned a trip there over the weekend. Today we caught up to him at a tourism event, and despite what is shown clearly on camera, he told us that it’s not really that bad.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Area Representative, Belize Rural South

“Let me be very clear on that. I think I have said enough particularly local where people were probably more interested in that. But I always believe that once I get to an issue, let it stay over there and we had our plan B like I mentioned. We are working on that and once that is unveiled probably I can speak more on that.”

Duane Moody

“I know you spoke about that plan B. Could you just give us maybe an idea? I know you said you were going to visit the site. I think that has already occurred. Could you tell us what’s that plan B because obviously it is under water?”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“I did go to the site on Saturday as I mentioned and definitely it is not as bad as what you can see. With the cameras and so, it paints a different picture. It might have some negativity into it, but it is not as bad. But definitely my plan B, before I can say anything, I have to wait until I present the issue to cabinet and for government to endorse my plan.”

Duane Moody

“Sir I think people are concerned that they had paid five hundred and fifty dollars for a parcel of land and then they didn’t get it as yet.”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“No man, they…”

Duane Moody

“We received calls saying that.”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“You might receive from four because if you watched one of the ones that were produced in the newspaper, the person erased his name, he scratched out his name. So it is somebody that is probably playing mischief or so. If you really feel that something wrong has happened, don’t be afraid to come up or come to me. But people know me well, nobody will lose their money. People will get through with what they want and at the end of the day; I can tell you that every single one that paid that survey fee will get their piece of land.”

Reporter

“Would you not want to choose locations that are higher up, higher land that is most appropriate for housing?”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“My friend, if there was anything better in any way to be given, definitely it will happen. But let me tell you, where I live is downtown. You know what that was before? Swamp…swamp where they use to throw garbage and everything. Most of the area from Boca Del Rio, all the way to San Pablo area, that was land that was worse than over there, and today it have become a community over there. It might not be suitable, but there are only two ways to go either you go up or you spread around.”

Channel 5

Posted By: Chris

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/25/14 04:33 PM

oh jeez. our future.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/26/14 07:30 AM

Reaper told us long ago, that there will be more sickness to come in years ahead (cancer) due to the carcinogens in the garbage landfill below.
Posted By: pamkillen

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/26/14 12:51 PM

Today, with the rain, would be a perfect time to check out San Mateo and see the consequences of horrible and self serving planning. Any existing septics are under water and the kids are walking to school through the same water. The run off is heading to the river and out to the reef. The E. coli levels are outrageous. I had hoped that our community leaders might have learned from that fiasco. And my heart goes out to the families trying to live and raise children in a contaminated area.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/26/14 05:12 PM

Manuel Heredia blames the PUP for exposing his new submerged subdivision

The Area Representative for Belize Rural South and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Manuel Heredia Jr has finally made public comments on the ‘submerged’ subdivision he has been spearheading. Heredia Jr. was ambushed by the media on Thursday September 18th and all the hard questions were put before him. Under cross examination from the press, Heredia said that he was unaware of the location of the subdivision and promised to visit the area. In a second interview on September 24, Heredia told the press that the subdivision is not as bad as the cameras are showing.

The parceling of wetland that is a proposed reserve is one issue, the other has to do with the actual subdivision that is entirely underwater, in some areas as deep as five feet. Heredia said that the subdivision has been in the making and is the effort of the San Pedro Town Council and himself. A total of 319 parcels of wetland have been surveyed and 150 of the prospective property owners have paid $550 in consultation and survey fees and they are expecting their lease certificates. “Yes indeed I will not deny that there [is] a subdivision that [is] happening over there through the San Pedro Town Council and myself for the interest of the people. The way it works is that ever since, with both administrations, they pay for the survey and the subdivision is executed… There is nothing that you can call high land today. Most of it is land that you would have to reclaim… I will be going personally over there [the new subdivision] and look at the area. If the area is indeed with water that is above normal, then definitely I will revisit that. I promised the Cabinet, we discussed it, that if that is the case I will revisit [the idea], and if there is anything above normal, we will remove it from the subdivision.”

Interestingly, Heredia has maintained that if the subdivision is aborted, there is a second plan and as such, those 150 people who have paid in full for their lease certificate will not lose their money. He refused to disclose what plan B is, and if it includes subdividing higher government properties further on northern Ambergris Caye. Also interesting is that throughout the scandal, which originated from the cancellation of a PACT grant aimed at helping to fuse the proposed reserve expansion into Hol Chan, the Ambergris Caye Citizen for Sustainable Development has not issued a statement.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

Posted By: seashell

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 09/27/14 06:58 PM


"Rotting solid waste in large quantities is a significant source of methane gas. If inhaled, it is particularly harmful in the short-term and can cause slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and headaches. In severe cases, it can cause respiratory and heart complications.

Moreover, methane is a greenhouse gas. Its comparative impact on climate change is more than 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period,according to the US Environmental Protection Agency."



Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/03/14 06:41 PM

ACCSD responds to proposed subdivision

The Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) is a local NGO that was formed to help balance development with sustainability of our environment and tourism industry. In this goal we have worked with our local and national governments as well as other organizations such as Oceana and Coalition for Belize. A major goal has always been the legalization of a Master Plan for the island.

Through a collective initiative, community groups and government officials of Ambergris Caye came together to formulate a plan to protect the Bajos on the west of the island, the mangrove wetlands and Mexico Rocks. The purpose of the project is to maintain the integrity of our environment and guarantee the long term sustainability of our tourism industry. The boundaries and scope have been studied and modified to best meet the needs of the reserve and the community. Several public consultations have been held confirming overwhelming public support.

The recent proposal of a subdivision in an obviously unsuitable area and continued building of high density units in residential areas further highlights the fact that the Master Plan and the Expansion of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve need to be completed now.

The ACCSD has always maintained that the proposed Master Plan and Hol Chan Expansion/Wetlands Project is necessary in maintaining long term sustainability of our fragile eco systems and tourism industry while allowing for necessary development. While the ACCSD board understands that as our island continues to grow, development of residential areas is necessary; we strongly believe that they must be well planned and in areas where it does not jeopardize the sustainability of our ecosystems and tourism industry. We encourage all parties involved to have an open dialogue with the community and its stakeholders so that positive solutions to the islands development needs can be addressed.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun

Posted By: Maya House

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/04/14 04:25 AM

Here's an idea. Why doesn't Belize advertise itself for all of the things we have that make us unique to any other place in the world. Quit trying to be Cancun/Fiji/Bahamas/Jamaica/etc. Quit trying to be ANYTHING OTHER than Belize. We have so much to offer. We don't need to be in competition, or try and be the same as any other place in the world. We can draw PLENTY of tourists that want to come here to experience things they can't get anywhere else in the entire world. Let's get back to our roots. That's what started the rest of the world wanting to come here. That should be part of the Master Plan, which is HIGHLY needed to move up back onto the right path. There are so many amazing places in the world, and Belize is absolutely one of the best. Let's celebrate that, and Be Belize. That's more than enough. We're the only ones that can Be Belize.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/21/14 10:50 AM

G.O.B. Approves New Subdivision in San Pedro

In September, News Five brought you the story of a proposed subdivision on Ambergris Caye, about four miles north of San Pedro Town. More than three hundred lots had been surveyed…half of them allocated to residents who paid for the survey, but the proposed subdivision was submerged. It caused somewhat of a stink when the news broke, and the project was put on immediate hold. The situation was more complicated than that, because the area of that proposed subdivision was smack in the middle of a zone proposed for reserve status. That proposal is before Cabinet for approval. Tonight we can report that there is some good news emerging out of that mess. Cabinet has given Belize Rural South Area Representative Manuel Heredia permission to survey land further north. Heredia told News Five that it is high ground, and that he plans to survey at least one hundred acres very soon for distribution. While it certainly wasn’t the case in the first proposed subdivision, Heredia says this one will be well thought out and planned properly.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Area Representative, Belize Rural South

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“We made a subdivision plan not only for now but for the next four five years to come which will have about one thousand and sixty-nine lots, and it will have over there also facilities for hospitals, schools, sporting facilities and you name it…a proper subdivision. And at the same time we are looking into the proper infrastructure where the power high tension lines from B.E.L….that is the designated road at this time…to make sure that we start working on that so there will be proper infrastructure to allow you to reach the area we are talking about. That is more or less a little further from the area we were developing. In the meantime we are talking with people who were concerned about the environment to see how we can handle the area that was surveyed. But at this point it is totally on hold, and I am hoping that very shortly we will survey one hundred acres of the land that Cabinet has allowed me to use, to make sure that our people will have the proper type of lots that are required.”

Reporter

“Sir can we ask then for an update on the status of the proposal to turn that area into an expansion to a reserve?”

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“Well at this point what I can tell you about Los Bajos…I totally support that. I was a pioneer of that project because that is a very sensitive area that was sold by the previous administration. Our administration had made sure that we got it back, and then it was encompassed in one of the biggest reserves that you could ever have. At this point it is between the Ministry of Fisheries and the Ministry of Natural Resources that are sorting out a few little details as to whose responsibility it is within the minerals and dredging and stuff like that. Once that is resolved I am sure the reserve will be made available.”

The area in question would be an expansion to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, since it is a valuable breeding ground for fish. It also has great touristic value, since it is a favoured spot for very lucrative fly fishing.

Channel 5

Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/22/14 12:51 PM

"and it will have over there also facilities for hospitals, schools, sporting facilities and you name it…"
Sadly a lot of poor people who believe him will now run down to his office and pay him money for a survey for land in a secret location not described and even worse they of course will vote for him so he can deliver said hospitals, schools, sporting facilities on this promised land.
Posted By: Inplub

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/22/14 01:00 PM

Why a subdivision, why not a NEW TOWN?
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/22/14 01:06 PM

New town = loss of control
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/23/14 02:02 AM

LIKE YES! Who ever heard of a little fishing village 25 miles long covering not only one entire island but little islands next door????
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/24/14 10:25 AM

They say the location is a secret, won't even tell Fisheries where it is. I can only imagine that it's either totally nonexistent or still part of the proposed marine reserve. That is wrong on so many levels. Our politicians act like 5 year olds.
Posted By: Chris

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/26/14 05:20 PM

Elbert, no, our politicians act as though they know their constituents are like 5 year olds. A tried and trusted formula in Belize.
Posted By: Mike Campbell

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/26/14 09:18 PM

One of the problems is the LUA approves these substandard projects. When asked why they approve them even though they know they are defective they reply that when the Minister asks them to do it they will approve anything. Nepotism and land fraud by politicians have ruined San Pedro and have proven many to be corrupt to the maximum. All should be punished, they have stolen from us all. They persecute unemployed youth who have no way to make a living. They dont have any land but the politicians sure make certain their friends and relatives are well endowed with land. Some day the landless will rise up and straighten all this out and many of these corrupt politicians and lawyers will be history. Soon I hope, my home has been ruined by greed and corruption and some one must pay.
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/26/14 10:04 PM

I can agree with sending a lot of them to jail. There seems to be no consequence to wrong doing politicians and I'm sorry but I don't know whose jurisdiction that would fall under. Belize has a department similar to the US Justice Department and Attorney General but the constitution describes it as adviser to government not prosecutor of wrong doers in government.
Because there is no fear of punishment, Ministers just do whatever the [#%!] they want.
Posted By: Mike Campbell

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/26/14 10:31 PM

History seems to indicate that situations like this ultimately lead to revolution and the land is redistributed. That has happened to all our neighbors but our guys are too stupid to see the writing on the wall. Their greed and lust for power has ruined the nation. The land corruption coming from Town Board and Ministers should give anyone concern over property rights. These are not mistakes but deliberate actions to cheat people (usually foreigners) from their land or simply to buy votes with bogus land. Our Master Plan prohibited all this but our politicians decided that we did not have a master plan even though we have a very good master plan. It did not allow them to do what they wanted so they just threw it away hence, San Mateo, Reef Village, Sugar Caye, on and on. Land has been distributed on North Ambergris Caye in violation of the laws under which it was obtained and the politicians do not care as they are the ones benefiting. Selling of residencies and nationalities is still common place not to mention licenses for Golf Cart rental companies. The Town has insisted on not developing anything but tourism, indeed a ship of fools.
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/27/14 10:00 AM

Mike the philosophy of giving land to the people isn't the problem I see, it's the reckless, irresponsible and self serving way it's being done by the current administration. I'm 100% for giving land to the people. When Belize became self-governing in 1964 and the Peoples United Party came to their assistance by purchasing land, having it surveyed and issuing lots to the settlers on Ambergris Caye who lived as indentured slaves to the Blake empire. It freed them and truly empowered them to become proud and concerned citizens of a wonderful new nation. It was George Price's concept and IMHO a sound one.
Posted By: Mike Campbell

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 10/27/14 11:17 AM

Giving land to the people is not the issue, it is giving land over and over to the same political cronies while too many have none. The good land gets divided up amongst the party faithful and the rest get a piece of swamp where they are doomed. These low areas can not be developed successfully. Rising sea level and rising ground water make that an impossibility so we pour resources into something that wont work. For years we have needed to make a new town up north where there is good land but first they have to make sure they gave out big parcels to party faithful. Yes the problem is land distribution, all over the country. Our biggest problems nationwide is land and police misconduct. Both lead back to crooked politicians and patronage which ends badly every time. We have a whole culture that is accustomed to getting jobs and assets based on nepotism and party loyalty and nothing to do with capability and ability. Both sides are full of blood suckers that we support.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 12/01/14 06:38 PM

Subdivision moves to high ground

A proposed subdivision in a swamp wetland area that caused uproar amongst local residents in September has been relocated to higher grounds. The San Pedro Sun first broke the story on September 17th, in which it outlined that over 400 house lots were being subdivided as part of a wider subdivision project spearheaded by the Honorable Manuel Heredia. The San Pedro Sun can confirm that the subdivision has been diverted to higher grounds, some 6.5 miles north of San Pedro Town.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun

Posted By: CaptOneIron

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 12/02/14 10:48 AM

I couldn't agree with you more, Mike.
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 12/02/14 03:47 PM

This promised land of higher ground comes from the same moving lips that promised the underwater lots so why should they feel better??
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 12/02/14 04:35 PM

What a great name for a new development "THE PROMISED LAND!"
Posted By: elbert

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 12/02/14 05:43 PM

'The Promised Land', from the Minister of Moving Lips!
Posted By: champion

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 12/02/14 05:48 PM

Just shows to go ya how moving lips can get you elected. The state of mind the voting populace has, is questionable at best.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Hol Chan loses PACT Grant for reserve expansion - 02/18/15 07:11 PM

The Extension of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve has been approved and signed. Great news!

Inauguration on the 25th of February 2015.

S.P.T.G.A
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