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Aug 31, 2017

Teachers’ Union Says Government Must Take Lands Corruption Seriously

Andre & Gaspar Vega

Belize’s two largest trade unions have come out swinging against the Government in the wake of the latest revelations into fraudulent and corrupt activities at the Ministry of Natural Resources. A Justice of the Peace working at the Ministry of Environment, with ties to the Vega family, reportedly facilitated Andre Vega, the son of ex-deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, with land on Mosquito Caye swapped for a parcel on Caye Caulker that turned out to be privately owned. Worse, the signature of a Belmopan resident, Amy Forte, was forged on the deed of conveyance transferring the land to Vega. Since the sordid details came to light, the PM announced that all documents are to be canceled and the Mosquito Caye land returned, with a formal investigation started by police. The Belize National Teachers’ Union and the Public Service Union, in separate press releases, have called for immediate complete investigations into the Ministry. In the case of the B.N.T.U., they have registered how appalled they are that despite the bleak economic situation, naked hustling continues rampant in the Lands Department. They add that the Prime Minister’s “What it is, is what it is” statement from August eighteenth after the House meeting is too flippant and dismissive. B.N.T.U. President and Trade Union Senator Elena Smith told News Five today that those responsible must be made to pay – no excuses will be tolerated.


Elena Smith

Elena Smith, National President, Belize National Teachers’ Union

“We have heard about the claim that was made that her signature was forged, and we have also heard that the Prime Minister said he was going to launch an investigation, and so that is good. That’s a good step. But we want to ensure that after the investigation concludes, that what needs to be done is done; that persons who are found to be guilty of wrongdoing are held accountable, and they are held accountable to the full extent of the law. So we don’t want to use the fact that some of these persons who have been named are “abnormal persons,” that they are going to be given an easy pass; whatever they are guilty of, they must be dealt with and they must be made to pay for what they have done.  I think we are all aware that this has been happening for some time now; and it’s under no particular administration. As has happened with the Senate inquiry, it has to cover a period of time. And so we had not really put a time frame together; but we know that corruption is there, it is glaring, and it must be investigated. And so we think a start needs to be made – whether it is under this term or a previous term or three terms back; it has to happen.”

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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