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May 24, 2013

Misappropriation of funds in Orange Walk; San Antonio Road funds diverted

 There are more allegations being levied against Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega. This time it’s not about Rosewood or lucrative land scams, but about the alleged misappropriation of funds allocated for road works in Orange Walk. Vega’s nephew, Imer Hernandez, was paid a significant amount of work to pave San Antonio Road in Early 2012, just before elections. The money was duly handed over, but the road works was never executed.  And though he got pushed around by Vega’s assigned police bodyguard, Mike Rudon stomped his boots along the unpaved San Antonio Road this afternoon and he files this report.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This is the San Antonio Road in the Orange Walk District. The short stretch has been a source of constant irritation to residents and to those who operate businesses along it. But all that was supposed to be a thing of the past, as Imer Hernandez was paid in early 2012 to pave the road. These official government documents prove that he did received payment. In fact, he received nearly two hundred thousand dollars from Central Government…and another fifty thousand from the Orange Walk Town Council as a contribution towards the work.

 

Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard, Mayor, Orange Walk

“Fifty-thousand was part contribution that the council had to make for an overall contract that was signed with Imer Hernandez Limited or Hernandez Development for the paving of the San Antonio Road…double-coat servicing actually. The council made that payment sometime in January—fifty thousand contribution and up to date, we have not seen anything done on this street.”

 

Mayor Bernard is determined to get justice, either by having the funds returned or by Hernandez finally paving the road.

 

Kevin Bernard

“I wrote a letter to the gentleman stating that we need some answers. We need to know where was this money invested and why is it that the work has not been done. So what we have told him is that we need to see the work. We need him to come in and put back the work or reimburse the council the fifty thousand dollars that was paid to him.”

 

The level of frustration of residents is obvious and constant, as demonstrated by this billboard. And that sentiment was overwhelming echoed by Norma Carillo, who has operated this fruit and vegetable shop on San Antonio Road for nine years.

 

Norma Carillo, Resident of San Antionio Road

“When the big vehicles pass, some of them noh have mercy on people and the dust weh come in dah noh joke fi we. Ina my house, you woudla see how the vegetables stay; horrible. I noh know how to explain this…if you woulda just pass your camera and watch dehn yah place. We clean it every day; we clean up to three four times fi make dehn yah vegetables noh look so bad.”

 

Mike Rudon

“And I guess the road so bad with potholes that you sit down yah so and watch all the vehicles dehn di bang.”

 

Norma Carillo

“No the thing is that when dah noh potholes, dah dust because dehn woulda only come and scrape it and then the dust. When it rains, the big hoels come out and the mud. Either of them get to we.”

 

The document shows that Hernandez was paid for double surface dressing and treatment to the San Antonio Road. We didn’t know what that means so we checked in at the Ministry of Works, where an engineer confirmed that it means paving. And you don’t have to be an engineer to know that the road was not paved.

 

Kevin Bernard

“Well we’re on the road right now and if you see the condition of this road, there is nothing done on this road. And I can tell you from speaking to my foreman that was here at that time. Nothing was done except for the cutting of the edge of this road which was done by the Town Council. So there was no real work done. It is obvious that that money was diverted to some other project. But as far as we are concerned, the fifty thousand dollars the council paid, we want that money back or let the work be done on this street.”

 

Norma Carillo

“Dehn start to make wah kinda movement because that elections mi di come in. myself I asked one fot he guys, what now we wah got paved road. I noh know from who the guy, but they start to wet up and thing like that. And dehn grader it and everything. Dehn start to measure it and everything and dehn say we gwen get wah pave road. But cho, after elections everything done. I noh know weh gone on.”

 

Mike Rudon

“So apart from weh dehn grade it and measure it, nothing more?”

 

Norma Carillo

“Nothing more. Nothing more.”

 

We note for context that the Ministry of Works is coincidentally located on the San Antonio Road.

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5 Responses for “Misappropriation of funds in Orange Walk; San Antonio Road funds diverted”

  1. Rod says:

    What a thieving pm and gov they all need to be locked up for at lease 10 yrs each this whole gov. Move belizeans move.

  2. sickntired says:

    Mayor the money contribute was for the honour of having vega and his special relatives even talk to you. They will need more money to actually do the road cause they da exceptional people and deserve more money than the regular contractors.

  3. Bear says:

    Whoever wrote the contract, I hope it included a starting date and completion date. That will make it easier to prove that Imer committed theft and/or fraud — either one sufficient to lock him up. The Constitution gives any Belizean the right to make a citizen’s arrest, and maybe that is where this should begin.

    The thieves should not be treated differently than the other common criminals. If Gapi protects his abnormal family from regular justice, there is nothing wrong with resorting to vigilantism. That’s been working pretty well up north in Mexico in the villages that have formed their own vigilante patrols and justice systems.

  4. Paint it black says:

    Corruption officers work very hard.

    The have no time for silly journalists.

    Step aside, plundering must continue with these modern day pirates, tribute to Belize’s history.

    If you don’t like it, why did you vote them in or not vote?

    Tally ho

  5. Mick says:

    Take these people to court so that they are forced, under oath, to answer to the public. This will begin to deter more public corruption! This is not a PUP or a UDP thing! This is a Belizean seeking Justice thing. End public corruption!

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