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Dec 13, 2016

The Carmelita Land Scandal: Why Vegas Have All the Luck

Last week News Five dropped a bombshell that continues to wag tongues. In the span of five years, one thousand, six hundred acres of prime farmland along the Philip Goldson Highway in the village of Carmelita, Orange Walk District, was gobbled up by members of the powerful Vega family and their company, German Vega and Sons Limited. The company and assorted other Vega family members acquired all the land in a series of transfers from the original holders – most of whom had only acquired the land from Government themselves a few weeks or months before. In at least three cases, they had not even gotten the land transferred before it was sold. Of course, the former landholders were modestly compensated as well. But the question remains: why? And what does it mean for other land seekers? Correspondent Aaron Humes has more.

 

Aaron Humes Reporting:

The fifty land documents presented by Lake Independence area representative and shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Cordel Hyde, in the House of Representatives span five years, from 2010 to 2015. The Carmelita operation was painstaking and involved many people from across the Orange Walk area, but all had one thing in common: they got prime Government land in the Block 4 section of Carmelita, and for unknown reasons, they wanted to get rid of it. For instance, members of the Cruz family based in Orange Walk Town, based on a date discrepancy, didn’t even have possession of the lands they sold in August and September of 2013.

 

Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, Area Rep., Lake Independence

“There’s another family; this is the Cruz family. I think Faviola Cruz, she got the lion’s share; she got three of these lots, and she sold hers to German Vega and Sons Limited. Narmo Cruz sold hers to German Vega and Sons Imports Limited. Angelita Cruz sold hers to German Vega and Sons Imports Limited, too. Angelina Amparo Cruz sold hers to German Vega and Sons Imports Limited, too. Then there’s norma Cruz and Cynthia Cruz – you get the picture, Mr. Speaker. Out of those fifty-five parcels of land, German Vega and Sons Imports Limited got thirty-four of those parcels, out of fifty-five. Some people have all the luck.”

 

Quite a few others got in on the act, with the chief beneficiaries being German Vega and Sons Imports Limited, who got thirty-four of the fifty-five land parcels. The directors who signed the transfer papers include German Vega himself and another relative, one Karen Vega. And of course, the documents are all under the hand of the ex-Minister of Natural Resources himself, though he never signed anything; his authority was only mentioned. In most cases, there was a modest profit for the sellers – between six to ten thousand dollars more than the original purchase price. There was a ring of Justices of the Peace that signed off on the transactions – all very familiar names. It underlines, said Hyde in the House, the serious import of the famous statement made by the then Deputy Prime Minister all those years ago.

 

Cordel Hyde

“I don’t bring up this topic lightly, Mr. Speaker, because it’s not my style to “red-eye” anybody’s stuff; but we have constituents from Lake Independence; we have people from all over Southside Belize City, who all they ever dream about is a fifty by seventy-five lot, even if it is a swamp. And then we have people all over the country, who would also want a house lot or farmland, but are not able to do so. And then you have some persons who have all the luck, and that brings me to this. You know Mr. Speaker, I believe it was Maya Angelou who said that when people reveal themselves to you, you should believe, because they would know themselves better than you could ever do. And it was probably four years ago that the Member from Orange Walk North – and it’s a pity he’s not here today – told world and country, said to Jules [Vasquez]; he said, “I am not a normal person in Belize.” And we laughed, we laughed; we took him lightly. But these folks are very serious folks.”

 

What the documents don’t tell us is why German Vega and Sons Imports, or the rest of the Vega family, needed all this land so urgently, or what they did with it afterward. Carmelita, located at the entrance to Orange Walk, is a bustling village, but most of its development is located on the other side of the Philip Goldson Highway from where the land is located. But Hyde said that the very curious nature of how quickly the lots were sold – even the ones where interest had not even been acquired prior to its sale – demanded answers.

 

Cordel Hyde

“The people of Belize needs to know what’s happening or what has happened. Why it is that they can’t get a little lot? I am just stating for the record. That’s all I am doing and if the Minister did nothing wrong, then so be it. But all I am saying is this; how is it that you end up with fifty lots adjacent to each other and all the persons who got those lots then turned around and flipped them? Is it that they don’t like land? Is it that all fifty persons suddenly got sick? Or some misfortune befell their family or someone in the family got sick and they had to all sell the land? That is some strange crazy coincidence; that all fifty persons from the North got the lands, paid two thousand four hundred dollars to the government, then turn around within weeks, within months and then flipped that land to three Vegas. That’s all I am saying.”

 

Will the Government and the Vegas take heed? Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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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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5 Responses for “The Carmelita Land Scandal: Why Vegas Have All the Luck”

  1. Concern says:

    There was one name missing to mention which is of Jesus Gaspar Santos, also involved in the ring which made many land transactions here in Corozal and other districts.

  2. tallz says:

    I’m not sure if anyone realizes that these are crimes being committed. All the government is doing is telling them (Vega and Pitts) to “give us back the money please”.

    In that case if I go rob a government office of cash, all I have to do is return the money in 30 days and I’m off the hook? BS!!!!

    Lock these people up the same way that you would a common criminal because that is exactly what they are. Enough of this “I am not a normal Belizean” bullshit!

  3. tallz says:

    I’m not sure if anyone realizes that these are crimes being committed. All the government is doing is telling them (Vega and Pitts) to “give us back the money please”.

    In that case if I go rob a government office of cash, all I have to do is return the money in 30 days and I’m off the hook? BS!!!!

    Lock these people up the same way that you would a common criminal because that is exactly what they are. Enough of this “I am not a normal Belizean” bullshit

  4. Carmelita neighbour says:

    It’s all about money. Many ppl do madness wen money comes to them. Do u know anyone who is greedy for money? Would you be weak wen funny money comes your way? It all boils down to this: MANY PPL NO LONGER HAVE MORAL VALUES! MANY PPL HAV NO DIGNITY! This may include some public servants, politicians, government, opposition, medical, teachers, religious ppl, community leaders, media ppl…and the list goes on. I challenge u to be a person with moral values, moral principles, and dignity!

  5. po bwoi says:

    Barrow will only say something to the media to make it seems as if he’s concerned,to be honest,all those guys are crooks,pudp same things,they all have $ stashed outside this country,who can afford to run will run,but what about those who can’t?

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