Where is Gaspar Vega? Not at House!
Where is Orange Walk North area representative and former Minister Gaspar Vega? He seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth, never mind the House of Representatives, in whose precincts he has not been seen since his resignation as Minister of Natural Resources in October 2016. After Vega’s decision to step down as first deputy leader of the U.D.P. ahead of the party’s National Convention in March, Patrick Faber shocked the nation by defeating John Saldivar, a Vega favourite, and took his place as Deputy Prime Minister and heir presumptive to Dean Barrow. Vega was left to be physically banished to the far end of the back bench next to first-timer Angel Campos. Then came the various scandals in the Lands Department, most notoriously involving Vega’s own son, Andre, and his illegal acquisition and compensation for acres of prime land at the Haulover Bridge, followed by other family members in Carmelita. Vega has missed four straight meetings of the House and it has caught the attention of Leader of the Opposition John Briceño, who considers it an insult by the Prime Minister to Vega’s constituents.
John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition
“I am quite embarrassed for my colleague from the North, Gaspar Vega; you should never kick a man when he is down. I was quite disappointed when the Prime Minister kicked Gaspar Vega this morning when he was talking about the frigid waters of the New River, I gues because he is not coming to House meetings. Look at what he has done to Gaspar Vega. He has put him all the way to the last seat. Not even next to Dr. Campos. I think that’s an insult to Gaspar Vega and even to the people in Orange Walk North that voted for Gaspar Vega in the last general elections.”
“As a parliamentarian, do you know how many meetings or what are the rules in relation to be missing so many meetings?”
“I think that the number six that you can miss. I think it’s six per session; so with this government I don’t think we have six house meetings a year, because they don’t like to come to the house. So we don’t know if we are going to reach at that magic number, but we shall see.”
Section eighty-four of the House Standing orders says, “If…any Member is absent from the House for more than six consecutive sittings occurring during the same Session, and within a period of not longer than three calendar months, such Member shall vacate his seat in the House under section fifty-nine(two) (a) of the Belize Constitution.” A member can write to request permission for absence if he is sick or travelling. Vega has indicated that he will not contest the next general election but some are calling for his earlier removal by recall.