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Dec 30, 2013

Chetumal Street property in dispute: lease is cancelled and given to family of former Lands C.E.O.

Land disputes are featured regularly in our newscast but tonight there is one that strikes pretty close to home at the Ministry of Natural Resources. It involves prime real estate on Chetumal Street and had been brewing for weeks; today it headed to court where the Pickwoad family desperately sought a court injunction. The property in question is on a thirty-year lease to Bernadette Pickwoad, but unknown to her it was cancelled within days of the departure of the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Natural Resources who is now running for political office for the United Democratic Party. News Five’s Isani Cayetano found out who the property was handed over to in the following report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A dubious land transaction, involving the issuance of choice real estate to the family of the former Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Natural Resources, has resulted in legal action being brought against its new owners.  The parcel in question sits at the corners of Arthur Hoy Avenue and Chetumal Street in Belama Phase One.  According to an affidavit provided by Bernadette Pickwoad, upon visiting her property earlier this month she discovered that construction had already begun on the site.  She would later come to find out that the lease for Parcel 2127, which was granted to her in 1991, for a period of thirty years, had been cancelled.  It was subsequently given to Maude Williams, who has since applied to purchase the plot.  Appearing in Supreme Court on behalf of Bernadette Pickwoad to file an injunction is her brother.


Bernard Pickwoad

Bernard Pickwoad, Brother of Bernadette Pickwoad

“She came here on the ninth of December.  One week before that was when it came to our attention and so we decided that from the airport we went straight there to show her and we started to get our act together to get a lawyer and everything because we knew at the end of the day we’re dealing with people who have influence in the government.  We don’t have that kind of influence.  We are normal, regular Belizeans, law abiding people and we are, as you can see, proceeding by going through the court of laws of this country to seek justice.”


The family sought legal counsel from attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd, before proceeding with an application for a court order earlier today.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney for Bernadette Pickwoad

“She goes to the Lands Department and inquires and they tell her, “oh, we’ve basically cancelled your lease or we are in the process of cancelling it.  We just haven’t published it in the gazette yet and it’s since the first of November.”  And since then they have actually put it on the register that it will go into the name of Maude Williams and Mervin Castillo Jr., who happens to be the mother of the former C.E.O. and the minor son of the former C.E.O., Ms. Beverly Castillo.  Now she resigned November twenty-eighth of this year.  Before she did she made sure that her family got that piece of land.”


…and the family has wasted no time in developing the parcel, going as far as partially destroying piles that were already driven into the earth.


Bernard Pickwoad

Beverly Castillo

“My sister had plans to build an upper flat so she drove piles, she capped those piles and she put steel to come up with the columns.  These people cut the steel and are building on just the top of the piles, so, in my view, they should compensate us for damaging those piles.  We might need to break those and recap them and I think that should be their expense.”


This afternoon, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin granted the injunction, effectively bringing to a halt what appeared to be a last ditch effort by the Williams/Castillo family to proceed with work on the property.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“After today when we presented a letter to the new purported owners they acted really bad.  They didn’t want to take heed.  They quickly got a cement truck to go dump cement into some beams.  We had to move the court.  We had to move the court and seek an injunction because in fairness we want to maintain the status quo so that all parties be dealt with fairly.  They fairly and my client fairly.  And it’s sad that these things are rushed through in the Lands Department.  There doesn’t seem to be any equity and honestly it looks really bad when it’s the mother and the son of the former C.E.O. to end up with this land.”


Former C.E.O. Beverly Castillo retired from government service at the end of November and is offering herself as a candidate for U.D.P. standard bearer in the Belize Rural Central Constituency. Isani Cayetano for News Five.


The Castillo family would not offer any comment on the ongoing land dispute.

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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8 Responses for “Chetumal Street property in dispute: lease is cancelled and given to family of former Lands C.E.O.”

  1. Joe Blank says:

    Thug party, thug gov’t, thug Leader, thug ministers, thung members… I hope u are getting the point by now. This classic UDP playbook. Take what is not yours by force, and stare down, and intimidate your victim. Too many Belizeans, esp. of the wrong party, have gone through this. I hope they can take their well-deserved retribution as their will no turning of the other cheek anymore.

  2. Rod says:

    Why does this not surprise me thief thief thief nothing but thieves in this gov. This pm and gov. Condone thieving sue them for every penny they have then sue the gov. For thief.

  3. Teddy Steinway says:

    Audrey to the rescue again. Thank goodness. She is quick and efficient. She’ll fix this mess.

    Where is the spirit of integrity in this ex-CEO?

  4. Concerned says:

    So this is how the “system” works in Belize? Castillo should be ashamed of her thieving self! And now she’s trying to become a politician? Who will be foolish enough to vote for her? We already see clearly that her motive is certainly not to serve the people of Belize. She is out for personal gain just like most of the other elected fools in Belize.

  5. Jorge Santos says:

    Corruption and Greed with this UDP gov’t. Even potential candidates are corrupt. Imagine if Beverly Castillo is to win. What a disgrace and shame to her family.

  6. ceo says:

    Always some drama in Belize with land!

  7. Elgin Martinez says:

    It’s just a matter of time before the Citizens of the Jewel revolt against this corrupt system. What’s next are we going to be the next Haiti?

  8. No more beano fo deano says:

    Between the gangs and the UDP, Belize is a great business investment.
    Gangs steal with a gun.
    UDP steals with a government.

    2014, let the new thieving begin.

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