Real Estate Sales in Belize Increase Due to McAfee Publicity

private boat on prime beachfront Belize real estate

A private boat rests on it’s mooring on prime Belize beachfront real estate

Photo By David Gobeil

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The tiny Central American country of Belize made headlines around the world recently after Belizean authorities embarked on a nationwide manhunt for software antivirus pioneer John McAfee, and some Belizean companies say business has increased as a result of the massive international exposure.

“When that whole debacle started with McAfee all of the huge media outlets like CNN, ABC news, NBC news, the Associated Press, Reuters, you name it, they all started covering it,” said David Gobeil, owner of Belize Property Agents Realty, located in Dangriga Belize. “Not because an expat sadly died in Belize, but because a world-famous individual like McAfee was implicated,” he said.

According to ABC News’ Matt Guttman, who filed an investigative report on Nov. 14th, police in Belize sought McAfee, who made a fortune by founding an antivirus company in the early 1990’s which still bears his name, “as a person of interest” after his neighbor, American Gregory Faull, was found shot to death on November 11th of last year.

Instead of talking to police, McAfee told Wired Editor Joshua Davis he buried himself in the sand behind his beachfront home, and then went into hiding claiming the Belize police would kill him if he was taken into custody for questioning.

Davis said McAfee, who had been residing in Belize since 2008, then started a blog to chronicle his run from the law and used the international media storm which followed to embark on a personal diatribe against the Belize Government and Police.

“He did a masterful job of deflecting attention away from the real reason police were looking for him and turned it into a media circus where he claimed the whole thing was perpetrated by the Belize Government because they were out to get him,” said Mr. Gobeil, who has owned his Belize real estate company since 2006.

Through regular updates on his blog McAfee painted a very negative view of the Belize Government and Police, claiming extreme corruption and “Banana Republic” style governance.

“Everybody here (in Belize) started worrying….we all thought the international media and people listening to this crap would start believing it and stay away from Belize,” said Mr. Gobeil. “But in fact, the opposite occurred.”

Mr. Gobeil says traffic to his Belize real estate website increased by 50 per cent during the height of the McAfee media coverage, and inquiries about Belize began pouring in.

“I was pretty shocked, I was getting inquires like ‘where is Belize’, and ‘what’s life really like in Belize’. And then I realized people could see McAfee was probably crazy and all of his crazy claims were only self-serving B.S.,” said Mr. Gobeil. “Everybody I talked to here in Belize said the same thing, the whole McAfee thing was putting Belize on people’s radars as a place to check out, not stay away from.”

Major media outlets such as CNN, ABC News, CNBC News, Fox News and many others sent correspondents to Belize for a first-hand look at the relatively unknown, English speaking country formally known as British Honduras which has become a prime destination for ex-pats from North America and Europe in recent years.

“A lot of the coverage was kind of tongue in cheek, sort of making fun of McAfee, but of course a big part of the coverage was showcasing the country of Belize and all it has to offer,” Mr. Gobeil said.

“Many people who had never heard of Belize were thinking, ‘wow, that’s a place I might want to retire to’, and ‘I didn’t know I could still buy land so cheaply in the Caribbean’. And business has been booming ever since,” said Mr. Gobeil. “Well you know what they say, ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’. I guess it’s true, although at the end of the day I truly hope with all my heart that Mr. Faull’s family will be able to find closure with his case.”

No arrests have been made in the murder of Gregory Faull, and Belize national police spokesman Raphael Martinez said the case is still under investigation with John McAfee still being sought for questioning as a “person of interest”.

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