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May 28, 2014

Ministers Heredia and Contreras at the glamour and glitz of the Cannes Festival

Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia, as well as Minister of Economic Development, Erwin Contreras were photographed at the Cannes Film Festival in France last week. They are now back in the country after attending an exclusive party hosted by Italian investors of the Puerto Azul group. Along with the ministers, was Belize’s ambassador to Italy, Nunzio Alfred D’Angieri. From all accounts, they were wined and dined by the developers and put up at the glitzy Hotel InterContinental Carlton Cannes where the prices for the rooms are anywhere between a thousand to three thousand dollars. The Italian singer-songwriter Andrea Bocelli entertained the guests. Now, Bocelli normally charges anywhere from a hundred thousand to a million Euros; that’s in the region of three hundred thousand dollars to three million dollars. According to reports in the international media, John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, were flown in to Cannes as hosts of the pricey party to launch the Puerto Azul project. When the pictures of the smiling ministers appeared on social media, the immediate questions were who paid for the trip and why. Well there is information that Cabinet has already given its nod to the project and the attendance of the two key ministers, Heredia and Contreras, at the invitation of Puerto Azul would signal support for the project. In fact, there is also word that the terms of reference of the project is before the Department of Environment. When the project came to light last year, environmentalists objected, but it was overshadowed by the Norwegian Cruise Line Harvest Caye Project as well as the Stake Bank project.  Puerto Azul is a massive and exclusive resort complete with airstrip, villas and golf course on the Northern Two Cayes and Sandbore Caye. The plan also features shopping centers, restaurants and living quarters for employees. The coordinator of Healthy Reef, Roberto Pott, is among those who have serious concerns that the installations would have a negative impact on the ecosystems particularly because it is dangerously close to the Belize Barrier Reed Reserve System.

 

Roberto Pott

Roberto Pott, Belize Coordinator, Healthy Reefs

“We have seen unofficial plans for development for that area and the last plans we saw was essentially going to shred Northern Two Caye and that is one of only two cayes that have mangroves on Lighthouse Reef. I am not sure if those plans have been updated or amended to be more sensitive to how fragile that ecosystem is. The plans call for several hundred boats out there, I think, and I could see obvious conflict being created because you have a large stakeholder group that comes out of San Pedro that uses the Blue Hole and they’ve been very good at having a small ecological footprint when they go into the Blue Hole and visit Halfmoon Caye. There are a lot of fishers who frequent that government especially for the conc. So I am trying to wrap my head around how this development will fit into the exiting uses.  One of the things that is critical to any ecosystem is mangrove. I mean it is even in the best interest for landowners. We found that parrot fish and other herbivorous fish depend on that mangrove as their nursery and you only have two of those out at Lighthouse Reef. You lose one; you are going to have a heavy impact on the ecosystem out at Lighthouse Reef. And so trying to see how you can fit a mega development into a very small area is hard to conceive. I think the last plans that we saw even had an airstrip out at the reef. It is just something that the reef cannot sustain; you don’t put an airstrip on your reef.  I’m very concerned that this is moving ahead without having seen what would be a project that will be compatible with the area that we consider so pristine. It is a world heritage site; Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole. I’m still hopeful that there are stakeholders out at Lighthouse Reef that once this information gets out will start speaking to their representatives because there are a lot of people that will be affected by this development if it proceeds. And even looking at the social side, because it is not just about protecting fish and mangroves, we’ve seen in other places, in the Rivera Maya, where you have these big developments and it is not the locals who get the jobs. There is a huge trend of influx, of migrants, coming to the coast to get jobs. And the people along the coast first have lost their land and in essence we will be losing access to Northern Two Caye.”

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8 Responses for “Ministers Heredia and Contreras at the glamour and glitz of the Cannes Festival”

  1. Rod says:

    This is how your hard earned money is being spent belizeans all a unu po people whey the pay unu hard earned money to this gov. This is how they the udp are spending your money with what these two have spent they could have fed 100 hundred hungry children well just write down two more names to be locked up in jail when the time comes.op

  2. Eric says:

    Dictatorship at its finest, stuff your own self interest down the people’s throats and they will accept it. This is also by the way segregation of the poor and middle class and also some of the so called upper class in our society. My children will never know the natural beauty of Northern Two Cayes and Sandbore Caye because our government are allowing the rich to build a virtual fence around it, we need to open our eyes and realize that what is happening is selling out a part of Belize to the Italians these islands will no longer be for Belize it will be for Italy and that is the ugly truth. My biggest gripe is the fact that I and I am sure a lot of Belizeans did not know about this until it became news which shows that government is arrogant enough to work autonomously of the people and not for the people. A few pockets in government must be filled with Euro’s right now, ill-gotten money from selling yet another part of our country while we lock up mothers for stealing bread to feed their children and Penner buys a new Hummer for his daughter. I kind of wish Guatemala takes Belize as a whole instead of these low lives selling it off one piece at a time.

  3. party down says:

    nice tux & groupies.

  4. H@tari says:

    What an embarrassment for Belize. You can only imagine what these “investors” really think of these third world monkeys. Wine them, dine them and you own them! Contreras is a known crook and I wonder if Heredia even wore shoes.

  5. aldo says:

    Rod you should ask ralph and said to bring back some of the 1 billion usd they borrowed of which me my children and grandchildren will have to pay.There is where all the money is. UDP da small change.

  6. Mellow Belizean says:

    Actually the whole trip was paid for by investors who now have our ministers in their pockets. So one trip and a couple days of luxury buys you a couple ministers and a couple cayes? Honorable ministers, how much is a soul going for?

  7. tellmesomethingidontknow says:

    you simple rod, u obviously no know how things work ……u cry too much that you talk fool. they obviously were wined and dined, the problem now is that nothing is free.

  8. sum ting wong says:

    How come no one is making a fuss about the fact that Kim Barrow was at this event? Obviously the deal will go ahead if she supports it because Dean lets her help run the country and in exchange she pretends not to know about his many affairs.

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