Leonardo DiCaprio Has Faced 16 Years of Protest and Backlash from Belize Locals and Fishermen, Blocking Construction on His Luxury Eco-Friendly Resort

US actor Leonardo DiCaprio signs autographs as he arrives for the German Premiere of US director Quentin Tarantino's latest film "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" in Berlin on August 1, 2019. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Leonardo DiCaprio may be a made man in Hollywood but in Belize, local residents and fishermen have protested and blocked construction of his planned luxury, eco-friendly resort for almost 16 years.

DiCaprio bought one of the islands in the area in 2005 and immediately announced plans to construct an innovative, high-end, eco-friendly resort. But locals have been uninterested in allowing the Hollywood star to build his dream vacation spot, the Daily Mail reported.

The eco-resort was supposed to have opened in 2018, but a constant stream of organized protests by the locals have prevented him from making any progress on the project.

Still, DiCaprio claims that the project has been created specifically to be the “greenest luxury development ever.” His advanced publicity for the resort claims that it would protect the health and aquatic life on and around the island.

The Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood star also told the Belizean government that the resort would bring in $10 million in annual income and create up to 400 jobs.

DiCaprio paid $1.75 million for the 104-acre, 2.2-mile-long sandbar next to which he wanted to moor 116 floating luxury villas. But local activists insist that his project is invasive and will “destroy the fish breeding grounds” there.

“Groups like Defend Blackadore Caye and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust organized campaigns against the resort with reported $5M-$15M ‘living homes,’ research station, residents club, and an anti-aging center,” the paper reported.

DiCaprio has spent years acting as a climate change activist but has made headlines for various eco controversies, like in 2016 when he flew 8,000 miles across Europe and the U.S. on gas-guzzling private jets. It was just one month after he told the United Nations that “our planet cannot be saved, unless we leave fossil fuels in the ground, where they belong.”

The protesters also slammed DiCaprio’s claims that his plans are eco-friendly. They say his ideas are far less green than he and his developers claim.

“For DiCaprio to label this plan as environmentally conscious is just a sales pitch,” tour company operator Rebecca Arceo, adding, “He’s a complete hypocrite in my opinion. Fly fishing is a huge deal in Belize for the tourism industry. To call his plan green is totally disgusting.”

Locals were also incensed that a rich guy from Hollywood came to their homes and claimed he was there to “heal” them by building a resort for foreign millionaires, the Mail reported.

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