Supporters of the UDP government were surprised and shocked to learn that a Minister of this administration had tried to dispossess a land-owner of a portion of his land on Ambergris Caye.
This is the kind of dirty trick which used to characterize the work of the PUP, which would take away legitimately-owned privately held land from one owner and give it to another with utter disregard for the right of land ownership enshrined in our Constitution.
We never dreamt that we would see the day when an elected member of Parliament belonging to the United Democratic Party would stoop to this kind of illegal manoeuvering. But recently in the Supreme Court it was uncovered that a portion of land belonging to American investor Michael Modiri had been impounded on the orders of the Minister of Natural Resources to provide a public road leading to another portion of private property belonging to another American, namely Bradley Paumen of Dark Night Resort.
The Minister has stoutly denied doing such a thing of course, but the evidence is overwhelming! The Commissioner of Lands, Wilbert Vallejos has testified that he received his instructions directly from the Minister of Lands, and the physical evidence is irrefutable that the land was impounded and a road was built leading to land belonging to another American.
If it were not for the integrity of the Court this gross injustice would have gone unchecked and Belize would have taken one more step down the slippery path.
Even now, despite the clearly illegal path taken to accomplish its end, the Ministry of Natural Resources is still trying to get the Ministry of Works to stake a claim to the land by declaring it a public road, compounding the felony of illegal dispossession.
The Laws of Belize do allow for the dispossession of privately held land for a public purpose, but for this to take place the Government must first publish notice of its intention to acquire the land and it must state what the public purpose is to give the aggrieved party time to respond.The Government is required also to pay adequate compensation to the person whose land has been confiscated.
Nothing of this procedure was followed in the case of Modiri and the only conclusion one can draw is that the land was taken illegally, piratically, by a government who had the might, but not the right to do this deed.
Citizens of Belize must condemn this kind of action and must moreover, condemn the officials who were involved in it all.