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#491504 - 05/28/14 11:27 AM Threatened with imprisonment over corn planting
Marty Offline
The office of the attorney general of Belize has filed an interim injunction that threatens imprisonment and other sanctions against members of the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA), if they proceed with an initiative to utilize basic agricultural development in their maintenance of the buffer zone of the Harmonyville Farming Community.

The buffer zone is the narrow strip of land that separates the highway and the community. According to the 'National Guidelines for Subdivision and Consolidation of Land in Belize 2010', a 20ft buffer is required between the property and the shoulder of the road for all subdivisions next to a main highway to minimize accidents and obstruction of the traffic flow. In the case of the Harmonyville buffer zone, a 50ft wide buffer was mandated. Some 29 acres have been cleared so far for the project in question.

The innovative initiative would not only clean and beautify the buffer zone (something the government had previously indicated was BGYEA’s responsibility) but, was also designed to provide for the development of roads for the Harmonyville Community (something for which the government had previously indicated that no help would be forthcoming), all in a manner that in no way precludes future use of the buffer zone for public purposes.

“BGYEA consistently respectfully acknowledged the government’s ultimate ownership of the buffer zone, and expressed understanding and appreciation that government may, at an unknown time in the future, require the buffer for public purposes but, having been tasked with its maintenance in the interim, BGYEA saw non-permanent agricultural development as the most feasible way to manage the buffer zone,” BGYEA said.

The association developed a plan to plant three-month crops in the strip of land that buffers the community from the highway, providing security and much needed support for the infrastructural development of the community.

BGYEA publicly sought and secured an investor who agreed to the agricultural investments in the buffer zone, under terms that would see 15% of profits going into the development of the Harmonyville community, at no financial cost (or any other form of loss) to the government of Belize.

Activities commenced with investments of over $40,000 but, on May 8, 2014, the government of Belize issued a stop order to the investor. BGYEA and the public learned about it via press release in which the government of Belize informed the people that buffer zone areas in any development are the property of the government of Belize and that any activity within the buffer zone should only occur with the permission of the Lands and Survey Department, within the ministry of the natural resources and agriculture.

On May 9, BGYEA submitted a letter of request for permission to proceed. It was denied.

In its letter of rejection, the ministry of natural resources points to the fact that BGYEA had only recently advocated for the ministry’s assistance in removing squatters who were erecting dwellings in the buffer zone.

“It should be noted however that BGYEA sought to ‘remove’ the squatters from the buffer zone into 1 acre parcels within the Harmonyville subdivision, thus facilitating them to legal title to more land than that on which they had previously squatted,” BGYEA said.

According to BGYEA, the actions being taken by the government of Belize smack of malice, in light of the facts that:

1) by their own admission, when agents of the government saw the initial clearing, they thought BGYEA would be planting trees in the buffer and took no issue with it until it was realized that the group would actually be planting cash crops,

2) while the government on multiple occasions publicly affirmed the expectation that BGYEA would manage the buffer zone, it now threatens that BGYEA is restrained “whether by themselves, or servants or agents or whoever from trespassing, entering, possessing, clearing, planting crops, placing or projecting any object on or over the land, encumbering or dealing with the reserve buffer zone situate at Mile 41 of the George Price Highway in respect of the area known as Harmonyville”

3) The government of Belize has on multiple occasions relaxed regulations allowing for foreign investors to engage in all manner of development in ecologically sensitive areas of Belize,

4) while government calls on BGYEA to “follow the rule of law” it points to no specific law which BGYEA is in fact breaking,

5) the development proposed by BGYEA would leave no discernible (lasting or otherwise) negative impact on the buffer zone, yet would provide opportunity for improved way of life for over 1,000 common Belizean men and women who gained access to parcels of land for the first time through BGYEA’s Harmonyville initiative.

Belizeans will be asked to speak out at a rally, tentatively scheduled for June 8, at the Battle Field Park, in front of the Supreme Court of Belize. A mobile protest app has also been set up allowing the public to voice their concerns directly to government by texting the word ‘LANDS’ followed by their message to (501) 662-2981.

Caribbean News Now

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#492168 - 06/12/14 11:13 AM Re: Threatened with imprisonment over corn planting [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

PM Tells BGYEA to Plant Corn on Their Lands

The Big Grass Youth Empowerment Association, BGYEA, forms part of the Rod of Correction, and BGYEA wants to plant corn in the buffer zone of Harmonyville on the George Price Highway. During his Press Conference Prime Minister Dean Barrow firstly criticized the NTUCB for taking BGYEA’s side and said that there will be no planting of corn.

RT. HON. DEAN BARROW
Prime Minister of Belize

“I don’t understand how the NTUCB can say this is about planting corn and an uncaring, cruel, mean Government wanting to stop the people from planting corn. That is not the issue at all; all we are saying is that you can’t plant corn on the road reserve for two obvious reasons: the road reserves are there for a purpose and the road reserves belong to the Government and people. Why on earth is there no reference to the fact that it is one thousand three hundred and twenty seven point one three nine acres (1327.139) that exist at Harmonyville; one thousand and about forty leases have been issued by this Government to the Harmonyville collective. Everything has been given out to them; Government facilitated this by having the Lands Department meet on Saturdays and all this was done on the backs of an acquisition of the property of which Government and tax payers had to pay one million nine hundred and ninety thousand seven hundred and eight dollars and fifty cents ($1,990,708.50) for; we did all that. There were those who said to me at the time, how can you reward criminality? I didn’t agree; I recognize then as I recognize now that there are problems in the Lands Department and that while it can’t justify what took place in terms of the initial illegal squatting at Harmonyville, it perhaps explains it and I thought let us regularize the situation; ultimately it is a small win for the small man/woman. But Lord Man, we bought all this land, we made it available to you; we charged you a thousand dollar per acre for your title where everywhere else even with respect to village lots which are a quarter the size of that, people are paying eight hundred dollars. My point is that we subsidized even the purchase price of the acreage that they got. We warned this is an unplanned community and you would have to take your place in the queue with respect to infrastructure. Now you come and you don’t even seek to reach an understanding with Government; in fact you ask Government to eject people that you say were squatting on the road reserve and as soon as Government ejected them, you go and start to plant corn. And this is the cause that the NTUCB and the Rod of Correction are taking up? Well, ladies and gentlemen, our position is quite straight forward, we are not going to countenance illegality, lawless behavior; it simply is not going to happen.”

LOVEFM


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#492309 - 06/15/14 08:46 PM Re: Threatened with imprisonment over corn planting [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Plant the corn, Mista Man!

By Abdulmajeed K. Nunez
Instructions from the Master Teacher


Will the prime minister honour the court order?
Will he make good on his good measure speech to the media?
Or will he be sour after the courts lifted the injunction?
Perhaps he will subject this decision to yet another interpretation
Since this seems to be his new modus of operation
Be mindful he will try to pull a fast one
We get that you had to reassure your power brokers
That you are still in command
And that there is not going to be an insurrection
I call on the Rod of Correction to pay close attention
Just plant the corn, Mista Man!

BGYEA congratulation!
On the lifting of the injunction
Just for your information here is a little reflection
Beltrade has a corn agreement with the Caribbean
My master teacher says to the tune of millions
Belize is not tapping into this option
So let’s plant the corn, Mista Man
Time to form a corporation amongst the owners of the land
Plant the 1,300 acres instead of one
One that could yield over 1.8 million immediately
With three harvests of corn yearly
At eighteen hundred dollars an acre approximately
Plant the corn, Mista Man!

The injunction was intimidation
This government’s fear
Is that Harmonyville residents could become millionaires
In three to four years, no longer needing their welfare
Each resident can get a brand new house in two to three years
Each household could make fifty four hundred in the first year
To organize themselves and become empowered
It’s raw land out there; this can easily become a business venture
It requires a careful plan and consultation
Your journey has began
Continue with your legal consultant
This will require heavy negotiations
Plant the corn, Mista Man!

Politicians have never done social thing yet
Maybe the prime minister’s heart has changed since ROC became a threat
Take up the PM offer of supplying corn from the ministry of agriculture
He said he’s even throwing in a bulldozer as good measure
Or you could even team up with the Maya
Since agriculture is their bread and butter
Plant the corn, Mista Man!

Sometimes I wonder can we really solve Belize’s situation from within Belize
If we read about revolutions
It’s about agreements you make with international organizations
With people who identify with you, willing to work, serve and help you
The French, Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions
Started outside and came back inside
BGYEA, you have the right team by your side
Read about the Senegalese revolution, it will open your eyes.
Plan the corn, Mista Man!

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#492348 - 06/17/14 09:33 AM Re: Threatened with imprisonment over corn planting [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

GOB Clarifies The Loss To BGYEA

On Friday, we told you about the decision of the Supreme Court to discharge the injunction against BGYEA, which blocked them from legally planting corn in the Harmonyville Buffer Zone area set aside as road reserve.

Today, the government fired off a release setting out its side of the story: it says the injunction expired and the court did not extend it, but the Government can apply for another injunction.

Government says it, quote, "continues to pursue the removal of illegal occupants within the buffer zone."

Today, we ran into BGYEA's attorney at the courthouse and she gave us a reaction to Government's statement:

Audrey Matura-Shepherd - Attorney for BGYEA
"It's just a nice, diplomatic way of admitting that they lost - because they cannot refute the fact that the interim injunction was removed. And that's a given. I can even recap why it was removed if you want - but most importantly the Judge even said clearly that if there is any other application for any other injunction it will not be ex-parte. That means it will not be in the absence of Mr. Petillo or anybody else they want to injunct. It has to be that we get notice before. Of course I expect government to be malicious and to seek anything possible, as many injunctions as they want, but no matter how many injunctions they seek, at the end of the day the law will prevail. The court will be utilized to deal with this matter civilly and I just ask that they stop harassing my client. Because no matter what you do, government, the fact is that you can't have this ex-parte injunction, you lost it, you disobeyed your very own court order. I wish the media could have been allowed in chambers to hear when the Judge said that the government needs to learn how to act lawful, and not unlawful."

The full hearing on this issue of trespass brought by the Government against BGYEA is set for June 30.

Channel 7


Dickie Bradley Special (February 18, 2013) from Great Belize Productions Ltd. on Vimeo.

Video: The Real Story Behind Harmonyville

Dickie Bradley Special


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