Saturday, July 22, 2017

VEGA AGAIN – Barrow – Can’t Touch This

Sunday, July 16, 2017, 18:34
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1Thursday, 13 July 2017 As we go to press, the People’s United Party is announcing that it will hold a press conference early next week to reveal yet another shocking scandal out of the Ministry of Natural Resources involving former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega and members of his immediate family. But even as that land scandal exposing the corruption and greed of the Vega family and the former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega threatens to explode, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has said nothing and it is a certainty based on precedence that he will say nothing. As it has done in every instance, the evidence speaks for itself – but while the evidence speaks, the Prime Minister has refused to listen. The Belize Times has obtained files from the Ministry of Natural Resources leaked to us by high-level sources. Those files contain documents which chronicle a repulsive land-grabbing scheme facilitated by Gaspar Vega as Minister to place hundreds of acres into the hands of close family members. As we go to press, we have barely started to skim the black and white evidence and already what is occurring – AGAIN – is very clear. As he did to appropriate 1600 acres of prime land in Carmelita for himself, Gaspar Vega is at the center of the scandal. It is simple and easy to follow, and there was no attempt to hide it. In a nutshell – this is how it works. A prime parcel of national land is identified. It is parcelled out and certain select persons are instructed to apply for the parcels. These persons apply to lease the land, and that is approved by Gaspar Vega almost instantly. They then apply to purchase the land – another instant approval by Vega – for a pittance. And then with title in hand they then turn around and transfer that land to one of the Vegas. In the 1600-acre debacle, the land was granted in 25-acre parcels by Gapi Vega to well-known UDP affiliates in his camp. They were then immediately transferred to Gaspar’s brother German and to his wife Marlene, and then it clearly made its way back to Gaspar because that 1600 acres is now his private ranch in Carmelita. It is an outright land-grab and blatant corruption, but the Prime Minister has never acknowledged it, as if it does not exist if he does not acknowledge it. In this new scandal, the prize is 400 acres of prime riverside property but the hustle is the same. A small group of persons including Ramon Banos, Roni Banos, Miguel Padia, Miriam Merida and Miriam Banos (all from the same address) applied for 40 acre parcels of land in the Spanish Creek area. They applied for permission to lease and received it almost instantly. They then turned around and applied for permission to purchase – again instantly approved by Gaspar Vega. And then, they all immediately transferred their 40 acre parcels to the brother of Gaspar Vega – Eduardo Vega and his wife Alma. And all these transactions, from application to lease to deed of conveyance to Eduardo Vega and his wife, happened in a matter of days with the facilitation of then Minister of Natural Resources Gaspar Vega. Again, we point out that this is only the tip of the iceberg and over the next weeks we will chronicle this corruption in detail. Just from skimming the documents we have in hand, we also see where Gaspar Vega’s brother managed to get title for a large Caye using the same hustle with ministerial facilitation. Hustling and corruption in the Vega family is nothing new. But the question has to be why Prime Minister Dean Barrow has been unable or unwilling to sanction his former Deputy and good friend. Readers will recall in October 2016 when another land scam – this time a compensation hustle – broke. Dressed all in black, Prime Minister Barrow appeared close to tears as he announced the resignation of Vega from Cabinet. He was apologetic when speaking about the effect on Vega and on his family. It was nauseating. But the Prime Minister has NEVER apologized to the Belizean people for the money which has gone missing from public coffers as a result of the corruption in the Ministry of Natural Resources. The question Belizeans are now asking is why Barrow has been so quiet and toothless where Vega is concerned. IN this instance, that is the multi-million dollar question. 16345-2
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