BELIZE CITY, Tues. Dec. 19, 2017–Over a week ago, the Government of Belize (GoB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Airport Alliance Belize Limited to construct an international airport in San Pedro Town.
We reported that Ministers Erwin Contreras and Manuel Heredia Jr., signed on behalf of GoB, while Jorge Abraham Jaen signed on behalf of the contracted company.
However, research carried out by Amandala revealed that Jaen has a very questionable past in the United States. Since our newspaper broke the story he has come under heavy scrutiny.
Today, the Opposition People’s United Party issued a statement which read, “The news that the Barrow Administration’s $100Million International Airport Santa Claus is actually a realtor based in Miami with no experience in building or in airport development should come as absolutely no surprise to Belizeans.
“The revelations that the ‘Airport Investor and Developer’ appears to be nothing more than a con-artist with a shady past including allegations of major fraud, voter fraud and extortion, should come as no surprise. The picture of senior UDP Ministers Manuel Heredia Jr. and Erwin Contreras posing with this ‘Developer’ is like deja vu all over again.”
The statement reminded Belizeans that Ministers Contreras and Heredia Jr., along with the Prime Minister’s wife, Kim Barrow, were posing with developers and stakeholders at the launch of the exclusive resort, Puerto Azul. The trio, according to Opposition critics, “wined and dined in Cannes, walking the runway for the paparazzi, in support of what was nothing but a scam.”
The release also reminded Belizeans about another conman, William Donny Mason, who had special police personnel serving as his bodyguard while Minister John Saldivar served as the police minister. Mason, according to the statement, posed as an emergency services expert and almost all the Cabinet members were regulars at his home. Mason is now jailed for murder, kidnapping, and extortion.
At the end of the statement, the PUP advised the Barrow administration to consider Google an investigative tool, which can provide valuable information on these so-called investors who target Belize.
Amandala notes that Jaen has not yet responded to the criticisms made by the PUP.
In an interview on Monday, Minister Tracy Panton, who is a member of the Cabinet’s Sub-Committee for investments, noted that investors are vetted by the Financial Intelligence Unit, and there had been no indication of Jaen being charged or convicted of any offense. According to Panton, the news reports are untrue.
Yet, the Miami Dade County Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has documented Jaen as a person of interest in a 2006 investigation.