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Squatter pays for land; learns years after that his receipt its fake

The Reconstruction and Development Corporation, Recondev, has been removing several squatters from the J and W subdivision in the Maya Mopan area of Belmopan this week. When our news team visited the area on Thursday, at least seven houses had been brought down by the corporation. At least three of the families were forced to live in the open with their children since they had nowhere to go. These families and others are being accused of squatting on land in the area and by their own account, Recondev had been issuing letters advising them to leave or be removed. Some began receiving these letters since 2016 and others since about six months ago. But the families say it was a request they could not so easily heed. Many who spoke with us said that for years they have been trying to obtain legal ownership of the land they occupied but were always given the runaround. Some say Recondev officials have stated that no payments will be accepted and that they simply needed to move off the property. Some add that they have tried to seek land elsewhere but without success.One man however told Love News that he had made two large payments for the land that he built his house on. Today, however he is being told that a receipt he received is bogus. According to Mario Vasquez, from the time he identified the land about six years ago, he has been making attempts to obtain legal ownership of it.  At the start, and with help from City Hall, he identified who held that piece of land. That was when he made his first payment.

But Vasquez is being told that his payments are not being recognized. The one receipt he has is being classified as fake. The document he produced is dated September 14, 2016 and has the title “Belmopan City Council/Recondev”. It states that it recognized Vasquez as part of a land program that sought to provide land to people who did not receive any in a prior program. The land, the document states, had a price of one thousand two hundred dollars. The signature that appears on the document is purported to be that of Mayor Khalid Belisleand carries a stamp from his office.  According to Vasquez, he obtained that receipt through someone who offered to assist him at the office on that day. Vasquez says that was his best option after officials at Recondev refused to speak with him because he did not speak English.

We attempted to obtain comment on the situation in Maya Mopan and the allegations made about officials at Recondev but General Manager Hector Sabido denied us an interview. We note however, that around the same time Vasquez was handed the receipt in question, the City Hall in Belmopan was faced with a scandal of forgery by one of its city councilors. In October of 2016, Mayor Belisle reported to police that then councilor Gene Briceno Lopez had forged his signature and used his official stamp illegally on documents that had been presented. It is unclear how Vasquez obtained the receipt he now holds unless and until an investigation is conducted, but for now officials have refrained from making any comment on the matter.