|Demolition crew tearing down dive
hat withstood the fury of Hurricane
Mitch one year ago was no match for the hand of man. The dive shop
operated by Rigi Gomez on the beachfront of the Exotic Caye Beach Resort
(Playador Hotel) was torn down last Friday by a crew hired by the
management of Exotic Caye. The dive shop, located on the water, was the
only one left intact last year as Mitch battered the shores of Ambergris
Caye sweeping away piers and anything else that stood in the way.
The decision by Exotic Caye to demolish the dive shop
came about after fifteen months of dispute between Mr. Gomez and the
management of Exotic Caye as to who was the rightful owner of the shop.
An employee of Exotic Caye allegedly told the new owners of the resort
that a building from the resort was relocated to house the dive shop. The
attorney for Exotic Caye, with the understanding that the resort built
the shop, told the management they were within their legal rights to
demolish the building. Mr. Gomez claims this was not the case; that the
owner of Playador Hotel at the time, gave him permission to operate the
shop on the property and that he used his own money to purchase materials
to build the dive shop. Exotic Caye contends that Playador Hotel had no
right to sell or give ownership rights to anyone, as they did not hold
the title to the property. Exotic Caye ascertains they purchased the
resort not from Playador Hotel, but from Mayan Properties Ltd., who took
back the resort as a result of foreclosure. In a press release issued by
Exotic Caye they state, "As the new owners of the property and all
buildings and belongings we were under no obligation to honor any
contracts made by Mr. Burnett. In cases where creditors and other parties
were reasonable, we did our best to accommodate their needs, resolving
many problems with condo owners, suppliers and others." Mr.
Gomez countered that his building was on "Queen's property" and
only the government can lay claim to the property. He further stated that
no court order nor any legal papers were secured by Exotic Caye before
his building was leveled.
Mr. Gomez is now putting his case in the hands of the
court. The challenges ahead for both parties will be to prove who
actually built and paid for the dive shop. Another matter that has to be
considered is that the dive shop was not in place when Mayan Properties
was operating the resort and whether they had the right to include it in
the assets of the resort.