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Mar 1, 2018

More to come; P.U.P. says they didn’t deserve it

Briceño, himself a former Lands Minister, says the seventy-one million figure paid out for land compensation is more than three times the amount paid out under his Ministry in eight years in charge. As for why the land was taken back, Briceño says there were separate issues at play. But he notes that none of the affected landowners came to him seeking compensation during his tenure. The delay appeared to have paid significant dividends.

 

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“These lands were given two months before the general elections. For instance, Jaime Montero got his land the twenty-sixth of May, 1998. Just before the election, remember, there was this fleecing where they were giving out land and we had elections in August; just hurry giving out. And then the one in Privassion – again, these lands were acquired back by the Government because it was a Cabinet decision,  that these lands needed to be taken back by the hands of Government for two reasons. One, is that the Privassion Enclave was an important watershed, and the Forestry Department was against it from day one, that it shouldn’t have been given out. And they were asking that it be taken back and closed off for watershed protection. And the other one was that this land had not been settled, on northern Ambergris Caye. I’m trying to remember the gentleman – he is living in San Antonio, married to a lady Perera. We acquired, I’m sure you remember, about nine thousand acres of land that was bought from the estate, and we had not settled yet, we hadn’t paid for it. And then the Cabinet said we need to take that back so that we can try to settle with the family [owners]  of that land.”

 

Reporter

“Were there any efforts by the Monteros to claim compensation for these lands and were they resisted?”

 

John Briceño

John Briceño

“I couldn’t answer because they never asked me for a meeting. Maybe they met with the C.E.O. or the Commissioner of Lands, I don’t know. But they never requested a meeting with me. Because if they had requested, I would have met with them and yes, we’d have tried to work out a reasonable compensation – nowhere close to what is up there. And for them, it was an investment. Imagine, you invested three thousand and eighty dollars in 1998, and you figure, ‘my Government the U.D.P. will get in there and when they get in we’ll settle it,’ so like you put that money in the bank; it’s not a lot of money.”

 

Reporter

“With how the U.D.P. was in ’98, you’d have to be a heck of an optimist.”

 

John Briceño.

“They knew eventually they were going to get there.”

 

Reporter

“I’m sure many P.U.P.’s have felt the same way since 2008.”

 

John Briceño

“Right, but now they feel different. We’ll get there. The point is, it was a good investment. From three thousand and eighty to two hundred and forty-five thousand dollars – my boy, I would wait ten years.”

 

The P.U.P. is poring over documents for other well-connected U.D.P.’s who got land during that pre-general election spree in 1998, including former Lands Minister Edwardo “Dito” Juan and Rene Montero himself. In the meantime, Briceño called on the Prime Minister, substantive Minister of Natural Resources, to take action and fire Montero.

 

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