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Jan 27, 2014

Land dispute in Orange Walk Town; land reverts to G.O.B.

Last Friday, we reported that a parcel of land used as a park in the Orange Walk East Constituency had ended up in the hands of the politically connected Aragon family. The issue had been brewing for some time, but with one member of the Aragon clan, Elodio Aragon Junior, running in a convention for the constituency in the next few days, a resolution to the dispute was necessary. And this morning, Aragon Senior and Junior stood side by side at a press conference held on the disputed land. Their announcement resolves that issue at least in some quarters. Duane Moody reports.

 FOR VIDEO CLICK HERE: OW LAND DISPUTE

Duane Moody, Reporting

Three parcels of land on Aurora Street in the heart of Orange Walk Town were donated to the government of Belize by Orange Walkeño and benefactor, Angel Castillo, back in the seventies. Since 1986, on two-thirds of the open space sat the East Sports Center; it was managed by the East Development Committee, which included the then Orange Walk East Area representative, Elodio Aragon Senior. But when Aragon lost his seat in 1998, the upkeep of the center came to a halt. It was not until twelve years after that another committee, with the assistance of the B.N.E. Trust, the sports center was rehabilitated.

 

Elodio Aragon Sr., Former Orange Walk East Area Rep.

“I had the east development committee and we were the ones who, after I won in 1984, two years down the road, we decided that we were going to build the East Sports Center. We applied for the two lots, we got it and we fenced it and we organized the committee and everything—we spent over a hundred thousand dollars to build the East Sports Center.”

 

Orlando “Landy” Burns

Orlando “Landy” Burns, Businessman [File: January 24th, 2014]

“Over three years ago, I saw that this complex had been abandoned for maybe like twelve years; totally abandoned…you couldn’t see the cement, grass was all over the cement. Imagine twelve years of abandonment: no toilets, the concession stand had no windows no doors, the backboards disappeared, even the lampposts with the light and the wires. So I decided that I wanted to do something about it. The first person I approached was the honorable Elodio Aragon Senior, who was the past area rep, who was the man who started this part of the complex. But the complex is composed of two parcels of land. One that started in the eighties and one that was donated by Mister Angel Castillo in the seventies. The committee applied under my encouragement to the B.N.E. Trust to get a grant.”

 

But phase two of the works on the center included an expansion into the third parcel, which since 2011 became privately owned by Elodio Aragon Senior.

 

Elodio Aragon Sr.

“The land in question was this one because there were some people who have been trying to confuse the issue and saying that I have ownership or I am taking ownership of the other two lots which is rightly the East Sports Center. And so today we had to clear it up that I had nothing to do with the East Sports Center. That has been turned to government so long back and I had applied for this piece of land that I got.”

 

Elodio Aragon Sr.

According to Aragon Senior, his son, Adin Aragon, in whose name the title of the land is assigned, wanted to invest thousands of dollars in a free parking lot to address congestion when events are being held at the sports center and the next door nightclub, owned by Aragon.

 

Elodio Aragon Sr.

“My son and I were going to develop it as a free parking lot for people who go to the sporting events at the sports center and for patrons of the Hi-Five because this street every Saturday or every time there is an event, it is so crowded; vehicles get jammed, they can’t pass and sometimes they are even fights with the drivers. So to avoid that problem we said let us use this—that’s the reason I applied for it—let us use it for a free parking lot. My son was prepared to invest the money to do that. When all of this problem came up, he said dad, I di get something, I will spend money on it, but if that is the case then just give it back. I’ll save mi money and that was what has happened.”

 

Duane Moody

“How much was it given to you guys for?”

 

Elodio Aragon Sr.

“It was like I believe—I’m not sure sure—but it was like nine hundred and odd, close to a thousand dollars.”

 

Duane Moody

“Giving it back to the government, what is it that you’ll receive in return for it?”

 

Elodio Aragon Sr.

“Just the satisfaction to know that we wanted to do something good, it was stopped; we dropped it. And then my son said, dad and I noh want no compensation because when you go ask for compensation, if you get ten thousand dollars, the public cries out yo get a hundred thousand dollars or two hundred thousand dollars. So to avoid anything else, I noh want compensation, I noh want nothing in return; just give it back.”

 

While the land has reverted to the Ministry of Natural Resources, what happens thereafter is up to the Land’s Department. But the Aragon family is asking that the management of the plot of land as well as the East Sports Complex be managed by the National Sports Council in Orange Walk. But it is not sitting well with the Town Council and Mayor Kevin Bernard. Bernard says the land as well as the sports center should be managed by the town council.

 

Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard, Mayor, Orange Walk Town

“This property was given on behalf of the people of Orange Walk to be used solely as a park; this is in combination with the East Sports Center Parcel and I believe it should be returned to the people of Orange Walk to be used solely as a park. We don’t want these properties to be controlled by any Sports Council or Ministry of Sports because we will have the same problem that we are having right now; having functions at the People’s Stadium where our councilor has reported to us that every time he has a basketball tournament, every night he has to be paying seventy-five dollars. I mean that is crazy.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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3 Responses for “Land dispute in Orange Walk Town; land reverts to G.O.B.”

  1. norteno says:

    mr. bernard, paying $60.00 for my drivers license is just crazy.

  2. Common Sense says:

    bwoy, really…..politics in Belize is one sick business, like watching pigs fight to get their turn at the dinner table. Cant watch anymore. As someone suggested a few days ago, time to look to the east and watch Ukraine.

    And…all irrelevant – all the hussles, theft, conning, lying…..you cant take it with you when you drop dead, your just cursing your own future descendants and family name. Sworn to public service, sworn to the Almighty. All broken.

    I feel pity for you people…Fonseca, Musa, Vega, Barrow…..all, many more family names I can call from trawling through news archives….all, sadly, cursed.

    So feed, pigs…..stuff your guts full……you cannot run from accountability.

  3. Ali BaBarrow, a god of 40 says:

    “Just the satisfaction to know that we wanted to do something” get rid of this stolen hot potato.

    Either way this trinket is back with Ali BaBarrow, under his purse.

    When it all blows over, he will cut you a very sweet deal, being part of the 40 has privileges.
    Just don’t talk, a traitor to the 40 ends badly.

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