Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019. 3:08 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Orange Walk North area representative and former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega, has essentially stayed away from public appearances since resigning from the latter post in October 2016. He stood down as a deputy party leader just before the United Democratic Party’s last national convention in March of 2015 and deputy prime minister after his successor, Patrick Faber, was elected.
Vega, first elected in 2008, did not take too well a demotion from the ministry, which was famously called ‘a hotbed of corruption’ by his boss, Prime Minister Dean Barrow. Later his son was taken to court by the government for illegally enriching himself with a land compensation when Vega was minister and was recently ordered to repay.
But BBN has confirmed that this past Sunday, village council elections were held in his personal stronghold of Trial Farm, and he was present.
But as heckling P.U.P. supporters reminded him, Vega missed seven consecutive meetings between October 2016 and June 30, 2017. He has not attended the House since then.
Section eighty-four of the House Standing orders says, “If…any Member is absent from the House for more than six consecutive sittings occurring during the same Session, and within a period of not longer than three calendar months, such Member shall vacate his seat in the House under section fifty-nine(two) (a) of the Belize Constitution.” But we are told this is variously interpreted, and according to Opposition Leader John Briceño speaking in 2017, “…with this government, I don’t think we have six house meetings a year, because they don’t like to come to the house.”
When asked on one occasion about it, Prime Minister Barrow directed us to Vega. But he has not given a formal press interview of any kind since September 2017, after a near-riot erupted in Orange Walk occasioned by a P.U.P. protest.
At the time he said (to Channel 5 News), “It’s very emotional to see the love and the sincerity of the people of Orange Walk North. As you can see, the vast majority of these people are people that came on their own …I would say that at least seventy-five to eighty percent is from Orange Walk North. When I first got into politics it was a brand new business for me. A brand new profession, a brand new whatever you want to call it. I wasn’t prepared for it to be sincere, I don’t come from a political family, politics has not been something that has reigned in my family. We have been supporters but never the people in the front line. So I wasn’t prepared; of course I am going to tell you that it’s not fair because that is not what I expected.”
Vega went on to defend his service at the Ministry but refused to answer to why so much of the country’s land, from Corozal to Cayo, ended up in family relatives’ hands. Our attempts to contact him this weekend went largely unanswered.
Vega still appears on the website of the National Assembly and continues to receive the benefits afforded to his fellow parliamentarians. The U.D.P. has selected a successor, Homero Novelo, to take on P.U.P. nemesis Ramon Cervantes, Jr. in the constituency.
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