GOB clarifies lease over portions of Goff’s Caye
Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
The Government of Belize has issued a clarification on the status of Goff’s Caye situated off the coast of the Belize District. This follows concerns expressed by several Belizeans over survey pegs that were observed on portions of the small island. Goff’s Caye has been a Caye of choice for many Belizeans who picnic on the island and enjoy its tranquility.
Alarms went off last week when several Belizeans visited the island and noticed survey pegs on the north-eastern portion of the island. The Coastal Zone Management Authority, who manages the use of the island, claims to be unaware of the pegs.
According to a GOB release issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources, the north-eastern portion of Goff’s Caye was surveyed back in September 2001. Subsequently a lease approval under reference BZ-R-516/2001 was granted in May 2002 for a term of 50 years to Belize tour operator Ramon Cervantes of Belize City. According to the release, the lease approval was granted with no option to purchase, however, the legal advice provided to the Department indicated that there were no provisions preventing the lessee from constructing permanent structures on the Caye.
The release adds that upon knowledge of such consideration, the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute objected to such a lease. “The Lands and Surveys Department has confirmed that the only survey conducted on the island and subsequent lease approved dates back to 2002. The Ministry is obligated to provide such clarification with a view to dispel any misinterpretations by the general public as it relates to crown land on Goff’s Caye and extends its appreciation for their understanding,” ended the release.
Lands Commissioner Wilbert Vallejos told a Belize City media house that the lease is valid, but it is under examination by the Ministry of Natural Resources since the concerns were raised. According to sources at the Ministry of Natural Resources, the lease approval was granted after Cervantes presented a proposal to construct bathroom facilities and a palapa for the general use of the public.
For clarification, Ramon Cervantes, the holder of the lease is not in any way affiliated to Ramon Cervantes Sr. who was tragically murdered in Orange Walk last week.
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