Currently Browsing: Editorial

Roads and Election Promises

Editorial | Ambergris Caye has in the last few years been one of the main sources of income for the government of Belize,and it is a sad but true fact that the government has done almost nothing in return for all the taxes that have been paid by the residents of San Pedro. The roads are a major case in point – both the mayor and our government representative have been asking for monies to cover at least part of the expense of building or continuing road building To the bridge, on Seagrape Drive and to the DFC area.

Our present main road, Coconut Drive going south, is already starting to show signs of decay and disrepair and it is obvious to all that the amount of traffic that travels on this road is too much. Seagrape Drive needs to be developed to alleviate some of this. This will allow Coconut Drive to last for many more years than it will do at present.

The road from Richies Supermarket to the bridge is a disgrace, and gets worse very time we have a little rainfall. The only people who can be happy with this situation are the vehicle repair businesses who must rub their hands with glee everytime the sky clouds over. Maintainance costs are huge for golf carts, and they are constantly breaking down due to the excessive wear and tear that they suffer over the pot holes that are rarely repaired. Golf carts are designed to be used on golf courses which of course are generally large flat smooth areas of well maintained grassy areas, not pitted tracks with a multitude of obstructions which have to be driven over.

The road from the DFC to Coconut drive is walked by many children everday on their way to school, and it will come as no surprise when a couple of them may disappear due to the depth of the puddles that they have to traverse. Perhaps the town council should put a boat with a driver to help them cross these obstacles.

A few years ago a letter was written to both local newspapers saying that the roads had to be improved. A meeting was called by concerned citizens and the fledgling San Pedro Business Association. The then prime minister the Rt. Hon Said Mussa attended and pledged an amount of money from the government which allowed the road from Ramons to Victoria House to be built. He realised that tourism raises and had raised a huge amount of capital for Belize as a whole, and very little had beeen put back to help with the development of this industry.

Maybe a meeting should be arranged to invite our current prime minister the right honourable Dean Barrow and his representative the right honourable Manuel Heredia to participate in a meeting, and ask them both to provide substantial funding for these projects. It should be obvious to both of them a little investment in this will reap untold rewards by bringing in many more tens of millions of tourist dollars into the government coffers, and also allow the local populace to enjoy a better lifestyle and ensure that their children will have employment here on the island when they finish school.

When one looks at the rest of the country it is noticeable that the worst roads are on the cayes. Look at Placencia which has a wonderful twenty mile stretch of brand new road which is wonderful for them but due to the worsening of the tourism figures for that area a bad investment for the government, and their tax collections. All we, the residents of San Pedro, need is four to five miles of roads. IT IS NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR or is it?

Swimming in Lord Ashcroft’s money

Amandala | Three attorneys who are on Lord Michael Ashcroft’s payroll began a public quarrel last week about who was loyal to Belize and who was not. It was very difficult for the masses of the Belizean people to take these fussing attorneys seriously, because they have a personal history of friendship, apart from the common denominator of Lord Ashcroft’s checks.

On the UDP/Telemedia side was Prime Minister Dean Barrow, and his antagonists on the SpeedNet/Ashcroft/Briceño/PUP side were Godfrey Smith and Eamon Courtenay. Smith began the practice of law in the 1990’s as an attorney in the P.M.’s Barrow & Williams law firm, while it is known to all and sundry in The Club that Eamon Courtenay and the P.M.’s trusted younger brother, Denys, are the very closest of friends, so much so that they used to host a television show together.

Now, before we proceed, let us consider the high probability that lawyers in Belize think that we, the people, are envious of their wealth, privilege and power. That is how they have been accounting for all our criticisms with respect to their ethics, their politics and their tricks – jealousy, rank jealousy.

Well, suppose that that is even and indeed the case, that we are green with envy, the fact remains that Barrow, Smith and Courtenay are all on Lord Ashcroft’s payroll, and have been for years and years. Since he became Prime Minister, Mr. Barrow receives his Ashcroft money indirectly, from the Barrow & Williams law firm by way of the Belize Bank, but receive it he does. (more…)

The fall of Sueno del Mar and other resorts in Belize

Editorial | Ambergris Caye is fast becoming like the Wild West of property developers. Resorts and hotel complexes are being seized by the various banks operating in Belize. It has been apparent to many inhabitants of Ambergris Caye, and on the mainland of Belize. that many smooth talking developers arrive and spend their time in bars and restaurants telling people how rich they are and how they are going to build golf courses, resorts and hotels which will bring many hundred of thousands of tourists from all over the world to the shores of Belize.

These people purchase a lot or two and immediately start selling pre-construction, offering insanely low prices and equally ludicrous completion dates. They spend a little money on the Internet by purchasing google words and the gullible come on down and hand over many of thousands to these sharpshooters/snake oil salesmen. Then the developers go to the bank and borrow more money showing sales contracts and put up the land as collateral with their bank of choice. The unsuspecting investor unknowingly has no chance of getting his or her title until the bank is paid off in full, which is highly unlikely in many cases.

The resorts that people have bought into that investors are having problems getting their titles include Reef Village, Sapphire Beach (four resorts), Belize Legacy Resort, Brahma Blue and others on the west coast of Ambergris Caye. There appears to be many lawsuits in the offing and in the end only the lawyers and the banks will win.

The worst case of all is Sueno del Mar, which was sold as fractional ownership and has recently been seized by Belize Bank. Individuals who have invested tens of millions of dollars have lost everything as the directors are still on the island and when asked said well it was the recession and not our fault. Perhaps they should have said we lived high off the hog and got all our original investment with a profit back and then let all their investors hang out to dry. The salesmen who sold this resort said it was our job to sell and make large commissions and all of these salesmen were from the U.S.A. as were and are their investors.

While there are many well run developments on the island and mainland it appears the ones with aggressive sales tactics are the ones that are most likely to go under. The promise of ridiculous returns on investments should be a warning in itself but when you look at how cossetted people are when they arrive in San Pedro/Placencia/Hopkins/Belmopan till when they leave. In some ways the writer of this piece is amazed that the salesmen/developers allow them to sleep in their hotel rooms without their supervision because during their waking hours they are/were only allowed to talk to their selected/approved people. Others sell reclaimed land which is very unlikely to be built on as the sewage/water and electricity will always be a problem and in these cases the land is sold so cheaply that you get what you pay for and everything will still remain a dream.

Anyone who lives on Ambergris Caye laughs when a tourist says ‘I hear they are going to start the golf course on the West Coast of the island’ as they know it will never happen as the water costs alone are totally prohibitive.

My advice is purchase wisely – check that you are guaranteed your title when you finish paying off your contract. Remember snake oil is sold in Belize but it only comes in bottles, sold by the Mayans and it is inexpensive. A lot of these so called developers have no ties to the local communities and when the money tree is empty will move to pastures new.