On August 13, 2010 The Nicole Claude Show was given the opportunity to speak with our Deputy Prime Minister Vega while he was visiting the Greater Chicagoland. He was vacationing with his family. This conversation was held at a restaurant in Waukegan after an impromptu meeting with the Belizean community organized by Concerned Belizeans, Inc.
Deputy Vega told me that this is his first time visiting Chicago. He visited Navy Pier and was joined by his spouse for a stroll. He also visited the Buckingham Fountain. Our Deputy appeared so content. He continued to say that he [previously] lived in California.
Q. Deputy Vega who is family for you?
A. My wife and 5 children.
Q. What is their age range.
A. He gladly stated that they ranged from 28 to 7. He is the father to two youngest ones their age is nine and seven. He also said that his girls are born in the middle and are well protected by the eldest and youngest sons with a smile.
Q. Deputy Prime Minister what is your literacy rate in Belize?
A. Good. Very good for us as well as the betterment of the country. He continued to say that Belize has a great educational system. Education is normal. Education is very high. He stated that it is the law to be educated until the age of 14year old. He also stated that one will be cited for not going to school.
Q. What grade level matches the age group of 14 y.o.
A. Deputy Vega answered 9th grade. It is mandated 8th grade or 14 year old. The current educational goal is to increase from 8th grade until 10th grade. He detailed that two schools system can be identified in Belize one is the church school and the second one is the goverment school.
Q. Deputy Vega, tell me about Belize, it seems so beautiful
A. Yes, Belize is blessed and protected. The reef functions as a a break to any wave threat from a hurricane. Belize is a “natural wonder.”
Q. Do you have many resorts in Belize?
A. We do have many resorts in Belize however at this time we are in favor of smaller resorst vs large established resorts. [Our] wealth is better distributed by small resorts.
Q. I am still blown away by the Concerned Belizeans, Inc organizational presentation in April. At the time Prime Minister Dean Barrow traveled with the First Lady, Kim Simplis-Barrow and his cabinet to visit with us. I also take the time to congratulate our Consul General Debbie Schell, the President of CB Mr. Pitts, Vice-President, Leroy Viamille and his team.
A. Yes, they are so energetic and dedicated to the cause that is supporting the children educational success. He acknowledged that on a short notice they were able to put this gathering together.
Q. Deputy Prime Minister Vega first define your role . One would say that your position is similar to that of Vice-President Mr. Joe Biden?
A. When the Prime Minister is traveling or not available, “I am the one in charge,” he said with great pride and confidence. However everything is organized. I have not had an opportunity to make any good decision. Usually the Prime Minister and I do not travel at the same time. However this is the first time it happened. The Prime Minister is currently in Las Vegas and I am here.
Q. Deputy Prime Minister as you know and as the world know my native country, was recently devastated by the Jan 12 earthquake, how do we rebuild Haiti?
A. Take pride in what you get pleasure. Poverty is not an excuse you use it to your advantage. The main focus is not material things or [being] materialistic. It starts with the self. Peace leads to a better production. He added love for one another as well as respect. Moreover, it comes from the home and family. We must go back to the basics.
Q. As a Deputy Prime Minister what are your specific duties?
A. As the Minister of Land and Natural Resources I manage the department of Land, Geology, Department of Environmental, Meteorology and First Department of Petroleum.
Q. Can anyone purchase land in Belize?
Yes. Just like in the United States. He continued to say that the government is the largest land distribution.
Q. What is the cost of a property?
A. It may range from $2,000 to 200,000 depending on the location or the size of the property. An inland property is typically cost $2,000.
Q. Deputy Prime Minister when I visit Belize what touristic sites must I visit?
A. The Deputy stated that I must visit the South area where you have running water, Placencia, a peninsula, San Pedro and the Maya Ruins. Also you will love the people of Belize they are friendly.
Q. To our children and people reading I am a Registered Nurse now a Nurse Communicator what is your career path on becoming Deputy Prime Minister?
A. I am a Businessman. Deputy Vega worked for the health and beauty industry. I also cared for the public. I supported sports like basketball and football. What I disliked the most is when poor people are being abused.
Q. During his last visit the Honorable Dean Barrow shared with us that Belize is “prosperous” how did you achieve this goal?
A. Prosperity in Belize is achieved thru self-confidence, business people and the general public. … and the other people are watching. One needs to be vigilant and make demands and make them thru the proper channels. The Deputy Prime Minister highly recommends that people get involved in their government body and challenge them.
Q. I was recently appointed as Haiti Tourism Development President for Chicago, how do we create a stronger tourism campaign for people to travel to the Caribbean. During my tenure I look forward to building on a well formulated Caribbean tour.
A. Congratulations! that is excellent. One way to achieve this goal is to think as a region instead of an individual, and continue to build on our strength by starting to grow and mature. He continued to say, for example the Caribbean, Central, Latin America become one voice.
Q. Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega how can we continue to build on an effective communication medium for the diaspora?
A. He answered leadership and leadership meetings, good communication and a neighbor mentality. It is an opportunity to create a dialogue to share our good experience as well as bad ones.
Deputy Prime Minister Vega thank you for taking the time to share your diplomatic role and vision with us. Once again thank you for your generosity. One can say that a leader is never in vacation.