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In Interest of the Town

I am inspired to write this one based on Mr. Fidel Ancona’s resignation as chairman of the Ambergris Caye Local Building Authority. In his letter Mr. Ancona puts blame on the San Pedro Town Council, our Area Representative and the Government for allowing for the illegal construction of projects when he and the local Planning Authority object to some illegal practices. Though I agree with Mr. Ancona’s decision in principle (not with the blame on our Town Council), I see something missing, which perhaps “Twenty Five Years Ago” can serve as an example. Take a close look everyone.

Twenty five years ago, when foreigners were just beginning to build to live on the Island, some of them down south, from Victoria House farther on, built fences on the beach which prohibited locals from using the beach. Locals were informed of their rights to have access and use 66 feet of beach area in front of any property, so they proceeded to remove these fences which were illegal. I recall persons like Allan Forman, Nando Trejo Sr., Chico Gomez, Pete Salazar, Ovidio Guerrero, Betito Marin, and Alberto Nuñez, going down the beach and uprooting these small fences which were denying Sanpedranos their rights to use their beach. A few stubborn foreigners put back the fences and these intrepid Sanpedranos removed them as many times as they put them up. Who won this battle? San Pedro did. Today, we still have that same right to access 66 feet of beachfront. If they had been cowards and “chickened out” perhaps today many foreigners would have fences along the beach denying us born Belizeans the right to walk along our beaches.

In 1985 I was a member of the San Pedro Town Board. The Council had passed a law prohibiting the building of more piers in front of the town core, and allowing only those in line with streets, eg. The Tackle Box pier. Now there was this gentleman who lived right on the beach at present day Estel’s Dining. He insisted that he wanted a pier in front of his place which would have it built almost in front of the park. To make a long story short, we denied the permit but Belmopan approved it. When he put his men to set up the posts for the pier, Mayor Chico Gomez, Pete Salazar and I sat on the beach with Town board employees removing the posts. For a while we wondered if we ran the risk of being shot or something. As they set one post in, we removed it. After an hour or so, he gave up and the pier was never built.

What this article suggests is that one needs to have determination and commitment. If one knows he is doing something right in the interests of the town, he should never give up. I really like the attitude of some of our village leaders twenty five years ago. They were there not for a salary or stipend or special perks, but to do a service.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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