Santa Cruz Village Chairman Alleges Political Interference
The primary purpose of the meeting was to address allegations of political interference. Chairman, Christopher Budna and Vincent Scott are alleging that U.D.P. Stann Creek West Standard Bearer, Ivan Williams, is forcibly injecting himself in the project as a means to take control of it. Williams has denied this allegation, saying that he is trying to ensure that those who have paid monies received their lease to their lands under the legal circumstances. Here is that story.
Hipolito Novelo, Reporting
Tensions rose high on Sunday during a meeting in Santa Cruz Village. Residents from the village along with those from Placencia and Seine Bight presented themselves to get an update on the parcels of land they have paid money for.
Andrea Bac, Resident, Santa Cruz Village
“Actually what the Lots Committee is doing, I feel happy but as the red start to do something, it is a disaster in the lots. What we need, we need a piece of land to squat our house. Like we have children, we got everything we need a piece of land for our children. That is what the red does not understand.”
Andrea Bac is supporting Village Chairman, Christopher Budna and Vincent Scott. She is one of many. There are those, however, who feel that the village expansion project is not being done properly or legally.
Diana Humes, Resident Santa Cruz Village
“When he start with this project here, Mr. Vincent Scott, he started in December. We paid him the money. Then he said that after December/January we will continue with the next lots that are not measured yet. He is going with sticks and ropes and measuring the lots. That is not one hundred percent that the lot is correct because I don’t know if Vincent Scott is a surveyor so that is wrong for me. He is telling the people, this is your land with a piece of rope and then telling them to go build their homes there. You think that is right? That is not right. That is wrong.”
Christopher Budna, Chairman, Santa Cruz Village Council
“There was only marking of land because there a guy who was putting down a marker into forty six lots of the project and went to the other side and take another nine. That is why Mr. Vallejos sent a letter to that guy to move his fence and told us to make sure we go and marked those places and make sure that no one go there and continue to invading into the project.”
“Like the chairman said, he just give words but we don’t see no paper or anything that he can say that we have this black and white from Mr. Vallejos that we authenticated about this land. We don’t have anything. We just have the mouth. We don’t have any papers to see if it is true or lie. Like many lies done the come right now, we don’t trust anything right now.”
Alfredo Pop, Resident, Santa Cruz Village
“We need a good leader right there. We need a good man who can lead Santa Cruz.”
“So are you willing to pay the three-hundred and fifty dollars because you only paid forty five dollars then?”
“Yes I told the man that I am willing to pay but I want an original receipt with a serial number because I am a Belizean. When you go to the water board you they have to give an original receipt that you can find at rural development. But he is using a receipt that you can buy at the shop. I totally don’t agree. I am willing to pay but he is neglecting me and selling to people who he can charge one thousand, three thousand. You think he is a good leader?”
“Just like how Mr. Wilbert Vallejos explained to him said Mr. Scott in front of the ten witnesses, I want you to write in the receipt like this three hundred dollars collected for surveying in the Santa Cruz Area. Because remember even though you are doing this, people will say that you are stealing. They will say that they are buying lot from you, you are selling lots. But that will always be a problem because you can’t satisfy everyone. People don’t have understanding.”
Diana Humes forms part of a political advisory committee for Ivan Williams the UDP Standard Bearer for Stann Creek West. Williams is aware of the village expansion project. He says that there is no existing lands and lots committee. Williams says he wants to make sure that everyone who is part of the project obtains their lease under the proper and legal circumstance. Scott and Budna, however, interpret this as political interference.
“Why is Mr. Williams injecting himself in this project?
Diana Humes, Resident, Santa Cruz Village
“Because he was not the person in charge, now that he done win and he is now in charge of this, representing Santa Cruz…”
“No he is not Ma’am. He is not the area representative.”
“But then we passed the comments to him, what is happening with this land, with this issue that we are going through so he said that he wants to support you and continue helping you with you lands that make you get out lease or any property.”
Felipe Zetina, Resident, Santa Cruz Village
“I myself am acquainted with Mr. Ivan Williams before he won his candidacy. He has promised to support us in getting the lease for the poor people of Santa Cruz. At his point he is just a standard bearer.”
“Do you believe that his political connections would make it easier for him to get you your lease for the land?”
“Yes. Actually in front of me and others, he has had meeting with the commissioner and I have seen that they have promised us that soon people will get their lease and they will pay not one dollar, just five dollars for the stamp.”
“It’s too good to be true.”
“Exactly. It is in his best interest to fulfill that promise.”
“Because he has an upcoming elections.”
“Exactly. You are a very smart guy.”
“I would imagine are a U.D.P. supporter. Are you? You support Mr. Williams.”
“I do sir and I…”
“And you will get your land based on your political affiliation.”
Hipolito Novelo, News Five.
At the close of the meeting, those present signed a petition attached to a letter which will be sent to the Prime Minister, expressing their full support for the expansion project under the leadership of Scott and Budna. Williams has scheduled a meeting to take place at the village’s school, commencing at six-thirty on Tuesday evening.