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Minister Edmund Castro in the hot seat again!

The wife of Minister of State, Edmund Castro, Helen Castro, is seeking to seize a parcel of land in the community of Fresh Pond, Lot #28.
That parcel is currently in the name of Tricia Young, leased to her since September 2, 2013. But an eviction order issued to Young dated March 30, 2015 makes the claim that Helen Castro is the “Beneficial Owner” of Parcel #28. Young has been given up to May 1, 2015 to “quit and deliver” the property.

The Reporter spoke to Young via phone late Thursday evening, and she confirmed to us via emailed copies that she has a lease certificate and an approval to purchase the land, both issued in her name for Parcel #28 in September and October 2013, respectively.

The matter will no doubt end up in court, since Young has sought legal advice to fight what she feels is an unsubstantiated claim on her parcel of land .–Unsubstantiated, she says, because even when the eviction notice was delivered to her, she was never shown any title document with Helen Castro’s name on it. And she doesn’t see how any such title would exist, since her name appears in the Lands Department as the leaseholder of Parcel #28.

While it is the wife of Minister Castro who is embroiled in this land dispute, Fresh Pond does lie within Castro’s constituency, and any land given out must have his recommendation, so it is likely that he is involved and stands to bear the brunt of any political fallout.

But there is much more trouble on the Minister’s plate at this moment. There is a brewing scandal in the community of Santa Marta which lies within the Orange Walk District but borders Maskall in the constituency of Belize Rural North.

Real Estate Agent Emerson Burke has made allegations that private land owned by his client is being illegally occupied by farmers who are growing cane for Minister Edmund Castro. In a heated back and forth with the media on Wednesday, a frazzled Castro did not deny the claim, but denied that he is supporting squatting by the farmers.
The Reporter discovered today that there are about fourteen farmers on the private land in Santa Marta who grow cane, which is purchased by Minister of State Edmund Castro. Sources tell us that Castro then delivers to BSI under an 873 ton quota in the name of an Orange Walk resident.

And while Castro tries to explain away that situation which is just entering the public arena, he’s also recovering from a case in the Supreme Court last week Thursday and Friday. It was actually a defamation suit brought by Castro as the complainant, against Visa whistle-blower Alvarene Burgess and Great Belize Productions.

Castro claimed that Burgess hurt his reputation when she falsely stated that she paid him $2000 to sign recommendations for many Chinese nationals. Channel 5 was named in the suit because that media house broadcast the allegations by Burgess.
But if Castro’s reputation was hurt by those accusations, it was battered last week. On Thursday Castro was cross-examined by attorneys Godfrey Smith and Anthony Sylvestre, who probed at length into past allegations of land hustling which cost Castro his Cabinet seat in 2010. They also spent time grilling Castro for his involvement in the Belize Airports Authority cheque scandal and of course his alleged involvement in visa facilitation for pay.

On Friday, Alvarene Burgess took the stand for just over three hours, three damaging hours for Minister Castro. Burgess stated under oath that while she was a very young student at Belmopan Comprehensive School, she and Castro had an affair, which is why she felt comfortable going to him for the recommendations. Despite determined grilling by Castro attorney Rodwell Williams, Burgess stated firmly and repeatedly that she paid Castro $2000 for each visa recommendation he signed for her. Leaving the Court that day, Burgess told reporters – “The truth is the truth. It doesn’t matter if you go under, over or around it. The truth is the truth.”

Minister of State Castro, the UDP Area Representative for Belize Rural North, will face a challenge at convention at the end of May from Dwight Tillett, his former campaign manager and CEO. He claims, though, that these things don’t matter, because no matter what or who comes at him, he will emerge victorious in any convention or general election.

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