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Jan 22, 2016

What Does Gapi Vega Have to do with Paumen/Modiri Land Dispute?

Bradley Paumen

The very curious tale of Dark Night owner and alleged murder contractor Bradley Paumen continues to dominate local headlines. The American investor has been charged for putting a hit on four persons – all over a piece of land which blocks access to Dark Night’s caves. Just for background, in mid-2015 the Supreme Court quashed a decision by the Ministry of Lands to compulsorily acquire land belonging to Michael Modiri. In a sixteen page decision, Justice Sonya Young referred to the case as, “a strange tale of a man’s property being bulldozed and cleared without his permission.” The Judge refers to the ministry’s action as an error of law, unreasonable and arbitrary. As the sole witness for the defence, Commissioner of Lands Wilbert Vallejos provided an affidavit in which he claimed that the acquisition of Modiri’s land was a directive from his minister. In 2013, when the directive was given, the Minister of Natural resources was Gaspar Vega. So when we got the opportunity we asked Vega for some clarification.

 

Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister

“I don’t know really what is going on in that case. As you know that is not something within my Ministry. However I remember that there was…not a real dispute but I think the man wanted an access to his land and government had acquired a piece of land from someone else for him to be able to be able to have access to his land. We went to Court and the ruling had said, if I’m not mistaken, that it was done improperly…in other words the Lands Department did not have the mandate to do such a thing because it had to be the Ministry of Works who would have the technical people to see if that was the right…the adequate piece of land to access the other…Mr. Paumen’s parcel.”

 

Reporter

“Sir the Court also found that this was done without Mr. Modiri even being in the country. When he came back in the country he found that government had already acquired his land without telling him anything and a road had already been built.”

 

Gaspar Vega

Gaspar Vega

“Ahm…I’m not really sure. I know that there’s a process that the Lands Department would have to go through….in other words get in touch with the owner or gazette it. Sometimes you move from the address and they cannot get in touch with you but once they publish it after a certain amount of time the lands Department has the right to continue the process.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, in a judicial review, the Justice found that none of that had been done. In cross-examining Mr. Vallejos, the Commissioner of Lands, he said that there was no inspection of this site and it was done through a Minister’s directive.”

 

Gaspar Vega

“I’m not sure about that. I don’t know if Mr. Vallejos said that, but I did not give such… if that’s where you’re going to I did not give such a directive. “

 

Reporter

“Sir he said it was the Minister’s directive and you were the Minister of Lands at the time?”

 

Gaspar Vega

“I am telling you I did not give the directive.”

 

Reporter

“But where would that come from if such a directive was given? This is a senior Lands official making this declaration in Court.”

 

Gaspar Vega

“I don’t know. To be sincere I don’t know. I didn’t even know about that until now that you’re saying it.”

 

Reporter

“But Sir didn’t this case land on your desk as Minister of Lands?”

 

Gaspar Vega

“I remember the case and the only thing that…if I’m not mistaken that even came to Cabinet and the only thing we were concerned about is that Paumen was making a significant investment in tourism on that parcel of land and we were trying to see if he could be helped in getting access to his land.”

 

Justice Sonya Young agreed. In her judgment she states that, “I find that the compulsory acquisition was not for a public purpose as it was not taken in the general interest of the community but rather solely for the interests of an individual entity.” We note that today, Vega told us that he does not know Bradley Paumen, but has only seen him around once or twice.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “What Does Gapi Vega Have to do with Paumen/Modiri Land Dispute?”

  1. Ali Babarrow, leader of 40 Belizean thieves says:

    Clearly someone must be held accountable.

    That scape goat shall be Wilbert Vallejos.
    The investigators must find out if he is a person of interest, a co-conspirator with Paumen.
    The fact that the murder did not happen says they are weak and must be dealt with.

  2. UNCLE BENJI says:

    Carrots import fiasco, land disputes, GSU raids, land sold dirt cheap, remanded prisoner accusations, John McAfee associate, lawsuits & libel, destruction of sacred land, Bradley Paumen associate – Gapi, Gapi, Gapi and more Gapi.

    Come on my good Lord, there has got to be something good coming out of this great and devious public servant of Belize. Give me one, just one good thing surrounding Gapi Vega and I will build him a monument. One good thing, just one Lord. Please keep digging and searching. One only good thing. Just one. I am waiting Lord.

  3. Hatari says:

    Typical GOB response, “Mi no know.” Take the money but not the responsibility.

  4. Spike says:

    Gapi’s response seems pretty vague for someone who was once the head of the Lands Dept.

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