Ex-Lands Minister: Department “getting to be too much”
Monday, November 9, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: As explained previously, Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega is out as Minister of Natural Resources, responsible for the management of land in Belize. But according to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, after seven years in charge, he wanted out, even before the general elections, because of the toll the post took from him. Vega apparently asked the P.M. to drop him from the post about six to eight months before but the P.M. persuaded him to stay on.
So then, today’s change is not a demotion, as Vega keeps his role as second-in-command and gains a Minister of State and two minor Ministries. Vega, for his part, conceded that while there has been much reform there the Department, famously described by his boss as “a hot bed of corruption,” is not quite where “all of us expect it to be.” He complained of too much “peer pressure” and the demands of the public, but points to substantial advances.
Vega, as the party’s campaign leader in the North, won five of eight seats in Corozal and Orange Walk including his own, but says he was not expecting preferential treatment – no one got to “choose” their Ministry and he and his colleagues accept the Prime Minister’s distribution of their responsibility.
As First Deputy leader of the UDP, Vega is in prime position to succeed Barrow at the close of his third and final term but says it is “too premature” to consider that.
Though Vega won handily in Orange Walk North, he says he was surprised by political opponent Ramon Cervantes Jr.’s spending on the ground in the election. He was not “outmuscled,” he said, just outspent, and is not worried as he put in more time campaigning with other candidates.
Vega declined to comment on the rumors of violence against campaigners against Ramon Cervantes Jr. on Election Day, and insists he has always advocated peace and so would not have ordered the Gang Suppression Unit to raid opponents’ houses in San Jose village as happened a few days before Election Day.
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