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Mar 6, 2018

Lands takes away Derick Garcia’s Ambergris property while he’s out of town

In addition to the recent revelations of massive land compensation to connected government supporters revealed in the past few days, there are ordinary Belizeans still complaining about the shady dealings in the Ministry of Natural Resources. A case of out-and-out alleged thievery was reported to us by Cayman Islands resident Derick Garcia, who believes inside personnel in the department took advantage of a report he made to take his prime property in North Ambergris Caye away without justification. He shared his story with us today and News Five’s Aaron Humes has the report.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

He is a hard-working Belizean who hoped to retire on two prime pieces of real estate in North Ambergris Caye. But Derick Garcia got shocking news on Monday when he visited the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture in Belmopan.

 

Derick Garcia, Had Land Stolen

Derick Garcia

“Yesterday, as a responsible Belizean citizen, I took it on my own to travel to Belmopan, to the Lands Department. One, to pay some taxes; and also, to follow up on copies of two land titles that I had lost in December of 2015. In December of 2015, I had presumably lost two land titles. I went into the Department to purchase and to obtain copies of those land titles. These titles are for two properties north of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. I made the payment; I informed the Lands Department agent that I would not be in country. As a result, I had authorized someone to pick up those land titles in my behalf. That individual accompanied me at the Lands Department, and we both left letters authorizing that to happen. This was December 2015. Fortunately, I was able to find those land titles back again, a few weeks later; they are now in my possession. I met with the Acting Registrar of Lands, and she provided me with documentation showing that the land, both lots in San Pedro, were indeed transferred in May of 2016.”

 

Aaron Humes

“When you were not in Belize?”

 

Derick Garcia

“That is correct. I asked her to provide me with those documents, showing the date of transfer, to whom it was transferred and perhaps who witnessed the transfer.”

 

In short, one Shaheed Louis Hauze claims to have paid a total of forty thousand dollars for the entire property of just under a square kilometer or zero-point-two-four acres, located four to four and a half miles north of San Pedro Town. The exchange was even witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, one Michael E. Usher. Neat and tidy, right? Wrong, according to Garcia.

 

Derick Garcia

“Now at the very extreme top it has, ‘I, Derick Garcia,’ and I made it categorically clear to [Acting Registrar of Lands] Miss [Patricia] Robateau that one, this signature does not match my signature. That is the first inconsistency that I found – that is not my signature. Secondly, the date of when the transaction was done, I was not in Belize. I was employed overseas, and I can provide proof of that, that I was not in Belize at the time. And thirdly, a Justice of the Peace signed and witnessed that this transaction took place on the twenty-fifth of May. This Justice of the Peace, I have no knowledge of; I have never, ever met this Justice of the Peace. Similarly, I have never ever had any contact with or met with the new land owner or title holder that is stated here, Mr. Shaheed Louis Hauze.”

Garcia says he never picked up the replacement land titles because he had found the originals and he was in any event out of Belize. His contact here seemed to have difficulty getting the documents as well. But with the revelation of this massive theft, Garcia says he is ignoring the overtures of the Department and taking legal action. He wants other Belizeans affected to do the same.

 

Derick Garcia

“This is primarily done in an effort to appeal to those in government. I’m calling out on the Prime Minister, the Minister responsible for Lands Dr. [Senator Carla] Barnett, those in authority at the Lands Department – to rectify this, to undo this.”

 

Aaron Humes

Now while we’re there, I understand that the people at Lands Department have been trying to contact you, basically saying give us a chance to fix it and noh go run to the media or anything like that. What would be your response?

 

Derick Garcia

“I am aware that a number of Belizeans are in a similar situation or have been in a similar situation and perhaps [are] afraid to come to the media or take the legal course that will allow them to get back their properties and titles. However, I will say this – I will make this statement categorically clear – that no one, no one, will disenfranchise me from seeking legal advice or doing the right thing. This is corruption and this needs to be brought out to the light.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

After our interview with Garcia, we contacted Usher whose phone number is on his seal. It turns out Usher is an employee of Barrow and Williams law firm. In our conversation he said he had not met either man and does not remember the details of the incident. He mentioned that he has done several of these types of transactions and even hoped that this one does not end like a prior incident that resulted in his censure by boss Rodwell Williams. He has requested to see the documentation in question but made no response since. We will continue to follow this story.

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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 “Lands takes away Derick Garcia’s Ambergris property while he’s out of town”

  1. spike says:

    I hope Mr. Garcia is successful in getting his property back. I also hope he finds out who the culprits are in the Lands Dept. and beats them severely. Such action is necessary because the thieves in the Lands Dept. need to be taught a lesson; a lesson they will remember.

  2. Bob says:

    As a citizen of another country who was considering purchasing property in Belize, this story has given me a strong reason to reconsider buying in a country where the government condones stealing property from it’s own citizens.

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