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Aug 30, 2022

Vulcan Denies Using Divide and Conquer Strategy in Gales Point

As we reported last week, Vulcan Materials Company has written to the people of Gales Point, offering them jobs that pay two times the existing minimum wage to carry out additional core sampling on White Ridge Farms where it intends to conduct mining activities. Since then, there has been what is being described as a divide and conquer tactic, often times used to win over a majority decision on a particular issue. But today, through their White Ridge partners, Vulcan denied using that strategy and offered an update on where they are with the project proposal.  News Five’s Marion Ali reports.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Area Representative, Belize Rural Central

“I am perturbed that we are getting reports of a divide and conquer strategy by this company.”


Marion Ali, Reporting

Minister Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Area Representative for Belize Rural Central, has expressed concern over reports she has received that Vulcan is employing unsavory tactics to win the support of the majority of people in Gales Point, who are in need of economic upliftment. Vulcan Materials Company’s Jimmy Fleming sent us a response to this and other allegations that have surfaced about them; it reads, quote “This allegation is not true. It is baseless and without merit. We operate in full compliance with U.S., Belize, and international regulations. We adhere to strict company-wide business conduct policies and ethics across all of our operations,” unquote. The Minister told us today that villagers had raised concerns to her several months ago that they did not support the mining project that the company is planning to carry out in their backyard, and that she had acted on their behalf.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Area Representative, Belize Rural Central

“I had approached, on behalf of the people of Gales Point and of course the Chairman, Mr. Jason Altschaft, I approached Minister Cordel and made some vigorous lobbying on behalf of my people of Gales Point and I found him to be very receptive and in agreement that this is not the kind of thing that is good for that community and its environs, not only because of manatees and baby turtles, but also because we want to keep out country pristine. And if we have Blue Bond commitments, then I believe that we should try to comply as much as possible.”


Minister Garcia says that there’s been a clear position taken by conservationists and environmentalists against the project.


Dolores Baleramos –Garcia

“Other persons, entities and organizations have chimed in but I believe that recently we have seen a definitive position. The Belize Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy – the Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy have been cautious. I believe I could say they’ve been cautious, you know, they’re not coming down on one side, but I think you could parse it. If you look at it carefully, there has been a tremendous amount of objection. There are many letters, as you have brought over the news and the people of Gales Point, I believe, the majority of them are standing firm.”


Last week Gales Point elder, Leroy Andrewin told us how much the natural scenery benefits his tours. Minister Garcia said tourism is one of the sources of revenues that the government has planned for Gales Point, especially with the resurfacing of the access road to the village.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

“Minister Anthony Mahler has discussed with me recently a little project that we may be able to provide between fifteen and twenty septic tanks for some of the people so that we can enhance the cleanliness of the community so that the tourists can come in. And Also, I want to mention that through the Social Investment Fund, and I have been lobbying for this, through SIF, there is on stream there is a proposal to build a new pre-school and also to fully rehabilitate the government primary school of Gales Point.”


Vulcan meanwhile, has provided us with an update on the economic activity that the sampling has created for Gales Point villagers. The information from Jimmy Fleming reads, quote: “As of last week, twenty-four men and women from Gales Point Manatee began work on property maintenance. That work will be ongoing as we continue fulfilling our commitment as responsible property owners and neighbors. There will be additional work opportunities on more projects throughout the year, unquote. Vulcan’s goal is to get an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment approved in order that it may be able to carry out the mining of aggregates. Marion Ali for News Five.


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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