Caye Caulker Village held their elections this past Sunday at the island’s community center. People turned up by the numbers to cast their vote for who they believed would be able to properly run their small community. With five independent candidates running for the post of Chairman, past Chairman Alberto Villanueva Jr. won with a total of 253 votes. 15 vied for the post of Councilors for the village and the six that won seats are: Laura Che, Miguel Neal, Erico Novelo Jr., Marilyn Alarcon, Francis Staine, and Fernando Sosa.
On Thursday, the candidates presented themselves to the community where many concerns were raised. After a brief introduction by all candidates, members of the island were invited to ask questions. It is interesting to note that all five candidates have held positions within the Village Council in the past including the Chairmanship. Concerns were many but among the more heated one was the question of land sale in Caye Caulker. Land had been previously reserved for park/recreational purposes on the North side of the island and people were concerned that it had been removed from Belizean hands and was now in privately owned. Present Chairman Ralph Hulse was on hand to answer the very controversial question. He stated that to his knowledge the land was divided into three lots and sold to an individual from Belize City. During the meeting, this topic kept being raised and candidates were poignant in saying that once elected, they would conduct proper investigations into the matter in an effort to find out if the land can be returned.
Another topic was the issue of the main palapa where families conduct business either by selling crafts or delicious homemade food. According to villagers, at the council is a plan for the palapa and their main concern was that it would be broken down. Candidates stated that what they intended to do was re-furbish the palapa and while that would be taking place, members would be temporarily moved to a new location.
Of much discussion was the area known as Bahia Puesta del Sol, a subdivision that is much neglected and of much concern to residents who live there. With the advent of the Hurricane Season, residents expect much water to rise into the subdivision. “Our children have to walk through the water for them to go to school, making them very sick,” commented a father. Poor streets in the area were not their only concern and brought up at the meeting was the fact that the subdivision does not possess an entry or exit point. The access road to enter the subdivision is private property and residents wanted to know what would happen. Candidates stated that they would look into purchasing the private property or at the very least continue dialoging with its owners to find out the best possible solution.
There were many other issues affecting islanders which are now under Villanueva’s responsibility. The job now begins and The San Pedro Sun will continue following these stories.