The village of Lemonal in the Belize River Valley is one of the oldest and most recognizable in the country. But it does not exist – at least, not according to the Ministry of Natural Resources, who says their maps do not plot it. That has caused some issue with land titles and today Commissioner of Lands and Surveys Wilbert Vallejos gave details of a recent effort at resolution.
“We have done this in other areas, lot as difficult as it is. We just mmet with the village council of Lemonal yesterday that have a similar situation where the village doesn’t even exists on the map. So, we have prepared the sub-division plan, we had consultations with them, the villagers have agreed to the plan. Now the only thing that happens is the survey of the land”.
When your own Prime Minister accuses your department of being a hotbed of corruption, one must take notice. The Prime Minister’s comments in Los Angeles to Belizeans living there last year about the Ministry of Natural Resources and in particular, the Lands Department has resonated.
Recently two senior officers were moved from the Department. One, Ms. Darlene Padron, was transferred to another Ministry; the other, Mr. Nestor Hernandez, a deputy to Lands Commissioner Wilbert Vallejos, resigned his post. Today Commissioner of Lands and Surveys Wilbert Vallejos commented on the fatigue associated with the stigma of corruption.
Mr. Wilbert Vallejos: “I am aware of it; I was aware of it from the day that I joined the department”.
Reporter Emanuel Pech: “How long ago was that?”
Mr. Wilbert Vallejos: “That was 16 years ago, and I joined the public officers, the people who want to see corruption acts of corruption minimized. I don’t know that we have the power to eliminate corruption entirely; I believe only Gd can do that, but yes, I am fatigued with what I see, not necessarily coming from this level or that level. Corruption exists in many forms and manners: when a file goes missing and when a false report is written and when a picture of another parcel is provided, so much that they are sent to the people who are making the decisions, and as a consequence of that, we do not make the best decision possible because we sit in an office and we depend on information that is provided to us. So, to answer your question, yes, it fatigues me, it fatigues anybody who wants to see a system move forward in the best way possible”.
The Commissioner reiterated what he told PlusNews last week, that Registrar of Lands and Surveys Barony Hernandez continues in his post and as far as he is aware is not under any scrutiny for inappropriate behavior.