Exposing Shenanigans: My Personal Journey through the Tangled Web of the Lands Department

Exposing Shenanigans: My Personal Journey through the Tangled Web of the Lands Department

Sun, 02/25/2024 - 20:05
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By: Nadya Lu nee Contreras

Belmopan City: Sunday 25th February 2024

As I sit down to pen my personal account of the labyrinthine mess that is the Lands Department, I can't help but feel a surge of frustration mixed with determination coursing through me. My name is Nadya Lu, and I'm no stranger to the trials and tribulations of dealing with this bureaucratic nightmare.

My story with the Lands Department began unwittingly back in 2002 when my husband was tasked with clearing a plot in the Society Hall area of Teakettle Village. Little did we know that this seemingly simple task would spiral into a decade-long saga of frustration and injustice. The plot reportedly belonged to Chang Jin Zheng, who later became allegedly embroiled in a visa and passport scam, forcing him to flee the country and leaving me to tend to the land in his absence.

Years went by, and despite my diligent efforts in maintaining the property, I found myself caught in a bureaucratic quagmire when I decided to formally apply for ownership in August 2018. Endless hours of waiting, fruitless inquiries, and bureaucratic runarounds became the norm as I sought clarity on the status of the land I had been caring for tirelessly.

Hope flickered back to life when I met with Minister of Lands Hugo Pott and Land Commissioner Wilber Vallejos. They assured me that I qualified for ownership of the property, given Zheng's abandonment and lack of property tax payment since 2003. Encouraged by their words, I went ahead and built two dwellings on the land for myself and my five children while awaiting a formal response from the Lands Department.

But my hopes were dashed when I returned from a medical trip to Mexico in June 2021 to find a backdated letter denying my application. Despite my efforts to seek justice from various officials, including Minister Cordel Hyde and CEO Paul Thompson, I was met with silence and indifference.

The final blow came during a land clinic in October 2023, where I was informed that the land I had built my home on was being reapplied for by Chang Jin Zheng, the same individual who had fled the country years ago. The sheer audacity of it all left me reeling with disbelief.

Determined to uncover the truth, I delved into my own investigations within the Belmopan Lands Department, uncovering a web of deceit and corruption. From falsified documents to suspicious passport applications, the extent of the irregularities was staggering.

Despite the ostracism and frustration I've faced, I refuse to back down. My fight for justice is far from over, and I will continue to shine a light on the systemic issues plaguing land acquisition in Belize. I refuse to be silenced in the face of adversity, and I hope that my story serves as a beacon of resilience for others battling against institutional injustice.

As I navigate this tangled web of deceit, I am reminded of the countless individuals who have fallen victim to the corrupt practices of the Lands Department. But I refuse to let their stories go unheard. Together, we will hold those responsible accountable and strive for a more just and equitable future.