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Jun 5, 2019

G.O.B. and Andre Vega Battle over $400K in Land Compensation

Andre Vega

The case against Andre Vega commenced today before Supreme Court Justice Courtenay Abel. It made headlines back in 2016 when it was reported that Vega, who is the son of the then Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, received a huge financial compensation for prime land near Haulover Bridge. The land in question is more than an acre and it was first sold to Hilmar Alamilla for a measly two thousand, five hundred dollars. The figure was reduced at the request of the then sitting minister even though documents showed that the land was privately owned. Months later, on December thirtieth, 2013, Alamilla would then sell the piece of land to Andre Vega for fifteen thousand dollars.  The system produced a duplication of titles for the same piece of land, prompting GOB in September 2015 to compensate Vega in the sum of a whopping four hundred thousand dollars. After the news broke, there was public outcry and the Government set out to recover its monies. The matter is now before the courts and this morning, two witnesses namely Commissioner of Lands and Survey Wilber Vallejos and Vega were called to testify. The government is asking the court to void the agreement and deem it unenforceable because the defendant ought to have known that the land was previously own. Vega was represented by Attorney Estevan Perera. 

 

Estevan Perera

Estevan Perera, Attorney for Andre Vega

“Our position simply is that we believe that there is a short issue for this matter and is whether or not the settlement agreement is a valid document and whether or not the government of Belize can enter into settlement agreements with investors, third parties and land owners to settle disputes and if they should stand by it.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Sir the claimant is saying that your client should have known that the property was owned previously by someone else before entering into that agreement.”

 

Estevan Perera

“They are saying that because the defendant would have known at the time of entering into the settlement agreement that his title may have had issues with it, that the settlement agreement was wrong and cannot be enforced. The issue that we have with that, if you think about it on the simplest of sense, is that if two titles are issued. One title is issued to person A and one title is issued to person B. It is obvious that one of the titles would have an issue. It is that same issue that brings the government to the forefront through the Ministry of Natural Resources to enter into a settlement agreement with one of the parties, the party that is swilling to return one of their titles. So it cannot be said that because one of the titles is wrong that we no longer wish to enter into the settlement agreement because it is because there were two titles and one of the titles may have had an error that we entered into the settlement agreement. What our position is that there existed a Minister Fiat grant and when one does a search and they trace back title that is the document that the attorneys usually look for when trying to find what is referred as a good root of title. That is the first title that is usually issued by the government of Belize and having found that and having traced a title to the Minister’s Fiat grant and not seeing any implications, leans, mortgages or charges one should accept that that title it good and valid. Because that title is signed off by the government of Belize we have to appreciate it has the effect and the government stands behind the title.”


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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