Caribbean News

BELMOPAN, Belize, Oct 18 2016 – Prime Minister Dean Barrow says he has accepted the resignation of his former deputy prime minister, Gaspar Vega, amid widespread media speculation over a land deal.

Barrow told reporters that he met with Vega, who was made Agriculture Minister in the last Cabinet re-shuffle earlier this year to discuss the situation.

“The Attorney General and I discussed this matter at some length on Friday and in fact she shared the relevant content of the files with me. As a result of this I have been in constant communication with the Honourable Gaspar Vega who was Minister of Lands at the time the transactions took place.

“I’ve been in touch with him throughout the weekend,” Barrow said, adding that he met with the embattled minister on Monday.

“As a result of that meeting, I accepted the resignation of the Honourable Gaspar Vega from the Cabinet of Belize, his resignation as a Minister of Government. Now I must make clear that Gaspar said to me that he would never knowingly have signed titles to land that didn’t belong to government.

“So that when he signed the final papers in connection with these two parcels of land, it was his feeling that all was in order and that the certificates for signature had been prepared on the basis that all was in order.”

But Barrow said that the former minister made it clear “that he recognizes that in all the circumstances, especially given that his son became the owner, in quotation marks, of one of the two parcels and was paid compensation after the facts were discovered in terms of the titles having been issued in error.

“In all the circumstances, his position naturally became untenable. He acknowledges that the new minister is inquiring into the facts with a view certainly, to the Government of Belize recovering on behalf of the taxpayers the monies that were paid as compensation and he is certainly not prepared to put himself and his family through the ringer which has been precipitated by these events.

“So, as I have said, I have accepted his resignation from the Cabinet of Belize,” Barrow added.