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Oct 23, 2014

Political Swords Drawn Over Dangriga Market

Gilbert Swaso

The long awaited inauguration of the Dangriga market was to be a happy occasion; after all, its completion was delayed for thirty months. Its construction became mired in controversy when it was revealed that kickbacks were being paid; as a result, five SIF employees lost their jobs and work on the market was slowed down. Well this morning, it was finally opened, but it was eclipsed by the tone of the speeches. Dangriga Mayor, Gilbert Swaso, vented his frustration with the delay throwing jabs at the government. The Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Santi Castillo, who was there to represent government, responded in kind. We’ll come to the market, but here is the testy exchange between the mayor and the minister of state.


Gilbert Swaso, Mayor, Dangriga

“They will remember the pain. Our people will remember the pain that you have caused them to ensure. Therefore mister minister, when will repentance begin? When will you and your government right the wrong done by the BMDP to Dangriga? When Mister Minister, your government claims that it is washed with money, so when will Dangriga get its four hundred thousand dollars? It is shorted to pave the streets? When will Dangriga get its repatriation? When? Mister Government of Belize, you may expect forgiveness, however your actions towards the people of Dangriga speaks volume. You have not uttered a word of apology and your silence is also communicating a message—a message which we, Dangrigana, that law would unclear.”


Santiago Castillo Jr., Minister of State, Finance & Economic Development

Santiago Castillo Jr.

“I have never ever been political about any opening. Today I will make my first exception because I am sure that Dangriganans have U.D.P.s and P.U.P.s and I will reach to all of them in a respectful manner.  I will say that the honorable mayor, his worship never did ask to meet with me at any time and I am the minister under which SIF falls; not the prime minister.”


Gilbert Swaso

“The fiscal year for 2012, we earned over seventy thousand dollars in that year from the market. Since we handed over our market, we have seen a significant decrease to a little over forty-nine thousand or thirty percent drop in our collections from the market—that is thus far because the year still noh finish yet. I had the privilege to be accompanied by two reputable contractors when I inspected the market before I took the walk with SIF. The contractor told me that on the face of it, they are not able to see one point eight million on the market. Allow me also to say that there is a building here in Dangriga that is for sale. That building has twenty-two thousand four hundred square feet. Our market has little less than eight thousand square feet. We were told that he construction value in Dangriga, is a dollar and twenty-five cents per square foot. So that building with the twenty-two thousand four hundred square foot is valued and also is on sale, is valued at two point eight million dollars and I understand it is selling for two point five million. Our market, a little less than eight hundred square feet, it is being valued at SIF at this time for two dollars and twenty-seven cents a square foot; that gives them the one point eight million dollars. If SIF had used the construction value of Dangriga for our market, then the value would be the original at one point three million dollars.”


Santiago Castillo Jr.

“We spent one point eight million dollars in Dangriga. Maybe it could have been one-four, maybe it could have been one-five, maybe it could have been one-nine; but it is what it is and the market is here today. But again, I offer my apologies for the delay. With all due respect to the mayor, I didn’t know he was a professional property appraiser that could immediately tell you how much square foot…obviously he did his research. But you know, I am always amazed by people that cry wolf. And I’ll give you an example of what I mean. In the House of Representatives at our last sitting, there was a lot of outcry and the members on that side were jumping up and down about the Guatemalan company BINARQ which was hired by the U.S. Corp of Engineers for the Coast Guard base at Hunting Caye. Lo and behold, we have now found out that this was a contract signed by their then prime minister Said Musa in 2007. So the same people crying wolf were the actual wolves in this case. So when the mayor cry wolf, me noh panic at all….me noh panic at all.”


Gilbert Swaso

“Mister SIF, since you are so confident and considering the principles of transparency, accountability, then come clean. Show us, show us everything; show us on what you spend our pennies. Show us, please show us. I am now asking on behalf of the people of Dangriga, show us how every cent is spent. Fellow Dangrigana, the ill-treatment and punishment that we are experiencing is demonstrating to us that we as a people who exercise our constitutional right must be subjected to a vindicated government no matter what. This government action, contrary to their mantra is done for political expediency. This government action is demonstrating that the U.D.P. loyalists are first and designed and focused with the hope of winning the next election; they noh worry about we yah dah Dangriga.”


Later in the newscast, we will have the details of the one point eight million dollars facility. 

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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5 Responses for “Political Swords Drawn Over Dangriga Market”

  1. Ali BaBarrow sez says:

    Maybe it should be called the Ministery of State, Finance & Economic Corruption.
    Just another run amok UDP operation worshipping Ali.

    Can you convert this Dangriga market corruption to market value on passports?
    How is this ministry’s theiving compared to Hulse’s Immigration?
    Only five people fired? No prosecutions means they got the Ali’s 40 immunity like Penner.
    Solid thieves, what’s Ali’s cut?

    The little people in Dangriga need to shut up, they are slowing down the theiving of Belize.

  2. Ali BaBarrow sez says:

    “We spent one point eight million dollars in Dangriga. Maybe it could have been one-four, maybe it could have been one-five, maybe it could have been one-nine; but it is what it is and the market is here today.”

    Maybe he does not know, now that it is finished.
    By definition of corruption, lot of unaccounted theiving going.
    Biggest problem is whether Ali is getting his fair cut.

  3. Greeneyes says:

    Funny how people can talk with 2 sides of their mouth. There’s a time and a place for everything and the Major of Dangriga was out of order. I agree with him, but addressing it at the opening was unprofessional. They were many outlets that the Mayor could have been used, which have probably given him a better response. How can you shake hands, cut the ribbon and just before this have so much to say. That’s how we stand up for what we believe in, but I guess we can’t chop off the hand that feeds us. So I wah tell you how I feel, but still tek weh u wah give me! Hmm leaders of today! So at the end of the day Mr. Mayor, while I agree with what you said, you were tackless. Official ceremonies shouldn’t be use for these types of issues!

  4. dats just gud says:

    For donkeys years Dangriga and Punta Gorda for the record have been the forgotten districts by the same PUP’s as well or else those same districts could have been far more improved if that was not a fact.

    UDP recently in power, this Party DO NOT have a 40 year history like the PUP, so come on, be realistic and don’t forget the facts Mr Mayor……….

  5. vicky says:


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