PUP Land giveaway costs taxpayers $6 million

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A land hustle orchestrated and executed by the People’s United Party in the last days of their administration back in 2008 has returned to cost the Belizean tax payers a whopping $5,639,000. The deal has its origins in January 30th of 2008 when Olivia Villanueva, daughter in law of Love FM Radio’s principal, Rene Villanueva Sr., purchased by Minister’s Fiat Grant No. 312 of 2008 properties from the Government of Belize comprising of 105 acres of land situate at Hicks Caye, Belize District and another comprising 102.53 acres situated at Turneffe Island Range.
This amounts to over 207 acres of Caye land made available to a single individual, a realty company at that. What’s worse is that the Caye land, specifically the 102.53 acres of Turneffe land was purchased for a measly $27,300. There is no indication on how much was paid for the Hicks Caye property but we surmise that it is in the same range. The transaction was completed just days before the February 2008 General Elections.
After those elections, the new administration reacquired the Turneffe land as it appeared to have been unfairly priced. However the owner still managed to get title for the Hicks Caye land, and wanted the other property, so as compromise the government committed to provide her with a replacement property. That was never achieved, and in 2019 there was an application for the Assessment of Damages for the unlawful acquisition of property comprising the 102.53 acres at Turneffe Island Range.
Last month the Acting Chief Justice, Michelle Arana, ruled on the matter and awarded $5,639,000 as compensation for the property as valued by the new Commissioner of Lands Talbert Brackett.
The entire deal proves once again the nature of the People’s United Party who facilitated the transfer of public lands to a private individual for private gain. In the end while the UDP would not allow it, it ended up costing the Belizean tax payers money which simply is not there.