Another reveal from Hyde takes us to the Mountain Pine Ridge that dates back to when Gaspar Vega was the Minister of Lands. Minister Hyde explained that in these cases at the Mountain Pine Ridge the names of citizens were used without their knowledge and subsequently transferred to other individuals. The portion of lands involve well over five hundred acres of land that were passed over to individuals and companies including the Belize Roadway Construction Company Limited.
Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “Thousands of acres in the pristine Mountain Pine Ridge area gone forever just like that. Put in other people’s names unbeknownst to those people by scheming ministers and compliant public officers. When you match the signatures on the land documents with that of the copies of the social security cards they don’t square. It’s a scheme that starts with ministers and their representatives able to get copies of the Social Security cards of the unsuspecting constituents who have come to apply to their offices for financial assistance. From there these copies of social cards would form the bedrock a land application and those needy unsuspecting individuals would be the recipients of massively lucrative chunks of land but they don’t know that lands are in their names but they don’t know. Lands are later sold to wealthy individuals but they don’t know. The money is shared presumably between the ministers and their cronies but they don’t know. We have a case in Mountain Pine Ridge where permission to survey was granted to five individuals who each surveyed a hundred and fifteen acres of the juiciest most fertile land on planet earth. The five persons got the permission to survey in January 2012; one hundred and fifteen acres each for a grand total of five hundred and seventy five acres in Mountain Pine Ridge. These five individuals then get titles to these lands one year later all on the same day January 8th 2013. They each paid a measly $15,039 to the government for a hundred and fifteen acres of Mountain Pine Ridge land, the area of the country where God smiled on us the most. Two and a half years later all on the same day in September of 2015 these five people Hilda Guerra, Hoventino Guerra, Guadalupe Mojica, Hilda Mojica and John Ramirez all transferred ownership in the lands to Belize Roadway Construction Limited for $325,000 , $265,000 , $345,000 , $275,000 and $230,000 respectively. If you’re wondering who Belize Roadway Construction Limited is they got the contract to resurface portions of the George Price Highway I believe, and the Hummingbird Highway but another related of theirs also got nine hundred acres from the then Government of Belize in the Coastal Area, eight hundred and ninety seven acres to be precise. Something like that must be illegal because I don’t recall it ever coming to the House for approval and as far as I know anything over five hundred acres should get House approval before distribution. Two of these five persons who got these lands are actually Guatemalans while there are many tens of thousands of Belizeans who can’t get lands.”
One resident whose name was used without his knowledge was Florencio Talbert whose name was used to acquire huge portions of land. Talbert found out of the land scheme some time later and upon making checks at the lands department he found that the land had already been sold and transferred.
Hon. Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “Another case of a man, Florencio Talbert. A tall gentleman of modest means who worked as mechanic for nine years at the Ministry of Works compound in Santa Elena I believe. A tall fellow, six foot four, have a lot of height but not much cash. High on height but low on cash. Unbeknownst to Mr.Florencio is that he owned acres upon acres in Mountain Pine Ridge. He owned the land but didn’t know. Applied for the land but didn’t know. Purchased the land from the government but didn’t know. Florencio Talbert says he was very good friends with the then Ministry of Works CEO Errol Gentle or so he thought. Gentle had asked for his Social Security card a few times but he was never told exactly why. Talbert says Errol Gentle even went to his house one day for his Social Security card but according to Talbert he never questioned anything because he used as Gentle’s body guard also. So one day last year an enterprising gentleman goes to Florencio and says do you know that you own some of the most prime real estate in this country ? Florencio of course says no. So the man convinces Florencio to give him power of attorney so that he can acquire the lands from him. So they go to the Lands Department together only to find out that one year earlier in 2019 the lands that were in Florencio Talbert’s name was transferred to Errol Gentle and to a company named Scorpio Development Company owned by Rene Montero’s two sons Rene Jr and Robert Montero. All this happened and Florencio Talbert never knew, never knew he was sitting on some rich Mountain Pine Ridge land and never knew he had transferred the land. All this happened over and over again. Montero learned well from Gaspar Vega you see. They put lands in unsuspecting people’s names, their workers or humble constituents and they are able to sell or transfer the lands without these people even knowing. While these people may be struggling to pay their children’s school fees, struggling to pay their rent and light bill each month Montero and his family are laughing all the way to the bank.”