Many Belizeans own property under a leasehold from the government. The Belize government provides building lots and other small pieces of land to Belizean citizens on a lease basis. After the Belizean clears the property and improves it with a building, he or she can apply for a conversion to a fee simple title. It's an imperfect system for sure but it does provide a small lot and some independence for poorer families.
With each election to the victor the spoils. All politicians are accused at one time or another of taking advantage of their position to help themselves or their families.
What follows is a conversation between the Honorable Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize and Minister of Agriculture and Jules Vasquez, reporter for TV7. It starts with Vega's explanation for giving land to his daughter.
Hon. Gaspar Vega. "I gave her a piece in Mountain Pine Ridge, 10 acres of land. I gave her a house lot in Corozal and one in Belmopan. And Jules I don't see anything wrong with that. I gave my daughter 2 house lots and 10 acres piece of farm land. I don't think there is anything wrong. I myself don't see anything wrong with that. It's not like I am giving her land to sell so she could have a party or whatever the case may be. I think she can build a house and I think eventually she can have a little farm. Nothing wrong with that."
Jules Vasquez. "Then we go on to Zamir Vega your brother, which is in San Pedro Town."
Hon. Gaspar Vega. "That's a house lot. Yes I gave him a house lot in San Pedro."
Jules Vasquez. "But as you know land in San Pedro is very expensive and we see the purchase cost here is $2,000."
Hon. Gaspar Vega. "All house lots we selling in San Pedro is between $2,000 - $2,500. All caye land, once it's a house lot. So that is the going price." [Papi Note: These are Belize dollars quoted BZ$2=US$1) Maybe because I'm gringo, I couldn't touch a parcel of land in San Pedro Town and acreage north and south of town (dirt road, no utilities) will run US$500K/acre or more!]
Jules Vasquez. "Then we have 3 parcels for Omir Vega; San Estevan, Burton Canal and Mount Pleasant, that's Belmopan again."
Hon. Gaspar Vega. "San Estevan, thats a land that he had a long time ago. All he did was push it through and finalize the thing. In Burton Canal - I gave him a lot in Burton Canal and one in Mount Pleasant. He lives in Belmopan."
Jules Vasquez. "Leticia Vega, that's 2 lots. Leticia is your?"
Hon. Gaspar Vega. "Yes Leticia Vega, that's 30 acres in San Estevan if I am not mistaken. Its cane fields Jules. I mean they are getting so petty. I wanted to go to German Vega because that's the main focus." "I'll tell you what I gave German/Ignacio Vega. I gave him 65 acres to Karen Vega, I still say German Vega because that's his wife and I gave him 135 acres of land in the Carmelita area. Out of those 135 acres - 50 acres was his that the PUP had cancel in 1998."
Jules Vasquez. "Would you accept the characterization that - this is what the PUP said; normal people have to wait in line, have to jump through hoops for years to get a piece of land."
Hon. Gaspar Vega. "Jules I am not a normal person in Belize. I work much harder than a lot of other people."
Jules Vasquez. "Yes but your family is normal people."
Hon. Gaspar Vega. "My family is as hard working as me."
From this an one other interview it looks like the cheapest land he gave away was something just over 2 dollars and 50 cents an acre when most anyone else would pay US$250 an acre of swamp/brush. Since the Prime Minister also sees this as a perk of office, I see little hope for the people of Belize but suspect the continuing conversation be interesting!