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Oct 18, 2016

Who Owns Bradley’s Bank Land; Development Company or Santa Elena Residents?

Land scandals are popping up everywhere. Earlier today, in Santa Elena residents of the Bradley Bank area were up in arms because the property to which they had titles for since 2014 actually belong to the Cayo Development Company Limited since 2002.  But why were titles issued to different entities? News Five’s Duane Moody went looking for answers.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

This parcel of land east of La Loma Luz Boulevard is known as Bradley’s Bank in Santa Elena Town. Approximately twenty acres, the plot of land was once an orchard and part of an estate managed by Tony Vera. But back in 1999, the property was sold to Cayo Development Company Limited, whose shareholders were Michael Castillo and Santiago Mendoza. The company later acquired two titles for the property, which was divided by an access road, back in 2002. Since 2014, at least fifteen families have either purchased land with titles or are in the process of becoming titleholders for plots that had been parceled off and issued to them by their area rep.

Eusebia Romero and Anna Franco have been living in the area with their families for the past two years. They have invested their life’s earnings and labor into the place they call home.

 

Eusebia Romero

Eusebia Romero, Resident

“We have been working our land from two years ago and I don’t think he can come and just say that it is for us cause we have invested a lot of money here and work and he can’t just come and take off what we have worked here.”

 

Duane Moody

“How did you get the property?”

 

Eusebia Romero

“The minister gave us our papers our lease and that’s how we got it. We didn’t came just taking land by ourselves; it’s the minister that gave it to us.”

 

Anna Franco

Anna Franco, Resident

“I went to the minister and tried to get a piece of land and they gave me this piece of land here two years ago. And I build and no one was living here, but now a person come out that this is his. And I just want to know what is happening because we di try fi make this problem come like this. What we want is just to solve this problem here and all of us live in peace.”

 

Duane Moody

“How many of you guys live here?”

 

Anna Franco

“Well me and my four children.  I have a lease and I am paying for property too and I don’t know what is happening. We just want answers and see what’s going on; what will be the result of this.”

 

As we visited the area today, there were many houses under construction. But for Alberto Palma, he has his title—he acquired legal documents to four parcels of land in the area back in March of 2014. So does Cayo Development Company Limited’s 2002 title trump his?

 

Alberto Palma

Alberto Palma, Landowner

“Yesterday evening around five-thirty I received a call from one of the other persons that live in the area. He asked me if I can please come there urgently because there is a person that is claiming that he owns all the land. So immediately I went there and this person was there and he told us that he is the owner of the land from 2002 and he hasn’t entered any arrangement with anyone to sell his land. And he says when he came there he saw all these houses and he is ready to fence up the place and close up the place and we were very concerned about what he is saying. He has two titles; he brought copies for us to see. I don’t know what the situation is back there; I don’t know. How can he have title for all that land and then we have title, because we have bought this land from the government?”

 

But Mendoza says that in 2010, he received a letter from the government of Belize about the acquisition of the acreage as public land. Since then, he has been back and forth at the Lands Department trying to get an audience with the Lands Commissioner and even the minister, but to no avail. On September first, however, he received a letter from the ministry saying that “the land Registrar requests the surrender of Land Certificate no. 1346/2002.” He took his plight to the residence on Monday evening and this morning. And now they are concerned that they may have to leave their homes.

 

Eusebia Romero

“I am paying for my title; I done apply for my property and I am paying for it.”

 

Duane Moody

“You’ve been paying two years?”

 

Eusebia Romero

“They give you three years to pay your property and I have been paying it. It’s one thousand that you need to pay, but you can pay it by installments and I have been paying it so.”

 

Alberto Palma

“We are concerned because he is saying that his title supersedes ours since his he has an older title and our concern also is that he is saying that he will block the access; he will fence his place because his attorney has advised him to do that. And we are concerned about that because we need to go in and out because we have investment there.”

 

Anna Franco

“I am concerned yes because this man come with sureness that it is his and we just want to get answers from the minister.”

 

Duane Moody

“He showed you documents even?”

 

Anna Franco

“Yes, the guy he showed us documents.”

 

Duane Moody

“I understand that he’s been asking you guys to vacate the property.”

 

Anna Franco

“Yeah, couple days. He says that we should evacuate and he is going to fence his acres and he is going to open some big drains so that no car and nobody can come in and come out. So yeah he done give we notice and we had a meeting with him yesterday and today this morning. So we want to know what’s going on.”

 

This morning, at a meeting with residents, Mendoza was escorted to the San Ignacio Police Station after distress calls were made to the police of him aggressing residents. Duane Moody for News Five.

 

Mendoza told News Five that he is willing to meet with government to settle the issue. 

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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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2 Responses for “Who Owns Bradley’s Bank Land; Development Company or Santa Elena Residents?”

  1. spike says:

    Unfortunately land titles don’t mean much in Belize any more. If you’re planning on making a real estate purchase in Belize, do yourself a favor and forget it!

  2. Belizean Pride says:

    so this guy wants his money for his land, fine let the government give him what he deserves but him going directly to the residents and being aggressive is really uncalled. Majority of this people are paying their fees as lease others as property. So he suppose to go to the land department and deal with them not these poor people who are struggling to survive. I know a few of those residents and they are regular striving Belizeans.
    Really doing things like these and then civilians getting involved due to lack of management is really terrible. When government give poor Belizeans a lot we tend to have it as legal land but doing wrongly embroils these civilians into things not acceptable. What if these people were aggressive and shoot this guy or chop him up for his aggression, wouldn’t this be crazy to reach that level?

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