Community protests against sale of Bacalar Chico – again

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 49            December 20, 2007

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All dressed in white, people marched against the sale of acres on North Ambergris Caye.

The protest ended at Central Park where people had the opportunity to sign the petition.

It was approved months ago, but on Tuesday the San Pedro Business Association, along with supporters, the San Pedro Town Council, and Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr. held a small protest against the sale of 3,000 acres of land on North Ambergris Caye. However, even though the motion has been passed, Area Representative Heredia stated that the fight is not over. “We were not happy about the three thousand acres that they have already sold I think at this point, but to refrain from the sale of the other five thousand acres,” he commented.

    SPBA held a meeting on December 13th, to discuss the possible sale. At that meeting many were the concerns and a resolution was reached. Tuesday, before Cabinet met, residents wanted to send a message to Belmopan which would state, “No, no sale.”

    The message was sent in three forms, a signed petition with over 600 signatures, a shut-down of businesses who closed their offices from 9:00 a.m. to noon in support and the protest that originated from the San Pedro Airstrip. Participants to the protest wore white as a symbol of peace and also as a way to demonstrate their non-political affiliation. According to President of SPBA Elito Arceo, the land was originally designated for the Belizean public, not for private investors. “We were not happy about the three thousand acres that they have already sold I think at this point, but to refrain from the sale of the other five thousand acres.”

    Karen Canul, business owner stated that if that land is subdivided and sold to the Belizean public at $4,000 a lot then that would be far more than Caribbean Developers is investing. “Any Belizean who makes $200 a week can afford to buy that property. This land is for our children, I do not want my kids and their wives or husbands to live with me for the rest of their lives. This is their land, we need to protect it for their future.”

    The proposal taken to Cabinet stated SPBA’s key points: There are no areas where Hospitals, Schools, Police Stations, Civic Centers, Hurricane Shelters or any other important community infrastructure can be developed. As Ambergris Caye continues its rapid expansion, this land in question will be needed to accommodate this growth. This land needs to be used for the benefit of Belizeans, as originally indicated, not the benefit of foreign investors.

    Even if it were acceptable to develop this land as a tourism-related project, the “Sale of Certain Lands In North Ambergris Caye Motion, 2007” indicates that the price of BZ$12,000,000 is considered “the most attractive and favorable to Belize”. If the 3,000 acres in question was sub-divided into lots and these lots were sold for $5,000 it would generate US$135,000,000. Clearly the figure of BZ$12,000,000 cannot be considered the most attractive and favorable offer for Belize under these circumstances.

    This land is being sold to “Caribbean Developers (Belize) Limited”, for the purposes of a tourism-related project including condominium units; marinas; conference centers and other facilities. This company has represented that it possesses the necessary resources and financial capability to develop this project, however, this company is an unknown group with no track record of development experience in this country.

    It has also come to our attention that an additional 5,000 acres of land in the same area is proposed to be sold to another development group for BZ$18,000,000. We oppose this proposed sale on the same grounds.
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