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#457976 - 02/13/13 09:05 AM Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles  
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[Linked Image] Nigel Petillo, the President of the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association, along with other activists and supporters called a press conference to announce their dissatisfaction which how things are proceeding in Harmonyville. They want the nation to support them in a national Demonstration. He wants the public to join his group in making a statement against the alleged structural resistance and foot-dragging which exists at the Lands Department.

"An amount of 1,300 plus acres of land was issued to us. We surveyed that land at our own expense at over half a million Belizean dollars, at the expense of the grassroots people, without a cent from the Government up to date, not in assistance in infrastructure or anything. We have done it on our own. And that's why I believe in the grassroots people because I know that you all can do it."

"Our presentation is also to announce that we will be putting a national demonstration, which is high-time now. We know of several communities which have been going through the same problems that we here at BGYEAH, Harmonyville have been going through. I repeat, this is not a BGYEAH issue, or just a Harmonyville issue; this is a Belizean issue. This is a national Belizean issue that we're all faced with, from Corozal, all the way down to PG, Belize across to Benque. Central American brothers and sisters have been inhabiting land in Belize for decades now. You, me, and every leader in this country are away of that. Those immigrants are met with compassion, and greeted with love by our politicians and leaders for a vote. Our resources are being thrown away, given away, and mismanaged by our leaders today. We, here on the panel, at the head table, are asking that the Government put immediate emphasis and put in place a system that all Belizeans could see a fair and just system where we all have access to land."

"It's not about us, and although we get some of those documents, what are we to do, just shut up because get our little 'paper'? How about all those older Belizeans who can't go to Lands Department, up and down, who can't call talk shows every minute, who probably don't even think that their voices are heard when they sound problems like these. We are sounding the alarm for the many thousands of Belizeans who have the daily problems at the Lands Department."

That demonstration is scheduled for February 26 in Belmopan, and is scheduled to coincide with a House sitting.

Capital Newspost

#458037 - 02/14/13 08:25 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
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Hon. Mai Calls Out Hon.Vega On Land Grabbing

Yesterday the Prime Minister of Belize reveled to the nation the new terms and conditions of the renegotiated Super bond valued at over a billion Belize dollars and maturing over 25 years ending in 2038. This is 9 years more than the current maturity under the super bond which expires in 2029. The initial interest rate coupon is of 5% per annum from March 2013 to August 2017 and 6.767% per annum from August 2017 to February 2038. According to the Prime Minister there is also a 10% principal haircut which will see approximately BZ$108 million dollars written off the current super bond indebtedness.

But inside the House yesterday it was not all about the Super bond, although it was the main order of the day. There were numerous moments when sparks flared and one of them was when Orange Walk South Area Representative Honorable Jose Abelardo Mai questioned Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega about a land deal dating back to 2010. Land deal that saw the involvement of Derrick Gillette, a close ally to the DPM.

Honorable Jose Abelardo Mai- Orange Walk South Area Rep

“In my hand I have a letter. It is written on the letterhead of the ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. It is dated the twenty-eight of June 2010.And is addressed to one Mister Derek Gillett of Orange Walk. It is signed by one Miss Beverly Castillo, C.E.O. at the time. Mister Speaker, all of us know who Mister Derek Gillett of Orange Walk is; Miser Longanisa Gillett; he makes longanisa. Mister Speaker with your permission I will read this letter—it is a very short letter—and it says here pursuant to the caption matter in which you are involved as interested party, the Ministry of Natural Resources as defendants in the matter offers you the sum one hundred and forty-eight thousand dollars. one hundred and forty-eight thousand dollars to extinguish or withhold all proceedings against the government of Belize and for the return of the parcel seventeen block, Consejo road. Government will then allow the registration of the title to the said parcel of land returned to Mr. Silvio Correa. And it goes on to apologize for inconveniences caused to Mister Derek Gillett. Mister Speaker in context, we have to understand and know here that everybody in Corozal and Orange Walk knows that this land never belong to Mr. Derek Gillett. There was an attempt to take the land from Miser Silvio Correa that had invested over thirty thousand dollars on the land. There was an attempt to take away the land and it ended up in courts and as a result, Mister Speaker, Mr. Derek Gillett was offered one hundred and forty-eight thousand dollars for not investing a dollar on the piece of land. A hundred and forty-eight thousand dollars of tax payers money; not a dollar that man invested in the land. Mister Speaker and then we use terms like irresponsible, outrageous and corruption, Mister Speaker.”

Honorable Gaspar Vega- Deputy Prime Minister OF Belize

“That case. I am not going to tell him about contraband beer. Mister Speaker, I will give a complete synopsis. Mister Mike please shut up noh? Mister Speaker, I will give a complete synopsis of what happened with that land. It was just before 2008 under the rush of the P.U.P. corruption, they issued the land. The court was the one that decided that was the land that was intended to be issued to one Mr. Correa, but that was not so because under the rush, Mr. Correa got a title, but with the wrong parcel number in the wrong area and that is how that land was still available because in the computer under the system, it did not show that that land was issued. After it went to court, after it went to court, it was the court that decided that the original intention was for that land, but was never—I had nothing to do with it—it was never issued to Mr. Correa. So that is what occurred there representative of Orange Walk South. And you, you are so disrespectful Mr. Mai. I have never been caught red-handed by no police with a pickup load of beer.” 

It is not the first time that Belizeans get to hear about this particular transaction between Gillette and the D.P.M’s Ministry of Natural Resources. The issue made headlines back in 2010 and last year for the double elections. Today we caught up with Mai and asked him why the issue was once again pulled out of the closet.

Honorable Jose Abelardo Mai- Orange Walk South Area Representative

“The corruption inside the UDP is tremendous. It is a massive hustling game. We are talking about the rosewood, lands transactions, and cancellation of contracts and giving them to their cronies. You hear Denny Grijalva getting half a million dollars worth of contract to fix feeder roads that never occurred. It is just unacceptable. We cannot continue go into the house, knowing this and not bring it up so the public will know. There are certain things that the ministers do that the police do not do. There are many things that the public does not know at large so we need to do our job. We are elected people and we need to tell the people what the government is doing. We need tell them when they are doing good and when they are doing bad. We need to tell them when are crooked. There was a particular incident whereby Mr. Derrick Gillett was offered by Mr. Gasper Vega $148,000 for a land that was never once belonged to Mr. Derrick Gillett”


#458945 - 02/26/13 10:05 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
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BGYEA to demonstrate against Lands Department

Nigel Petillo

Members of the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association, (BGYEA) led by Nigel Petillo, are spearheading a march on Independence Hill on Tuesday where they will protest against the Barrow Administration, particularly the Ministry of Natural Resources. The planned demonstration is set to coincide with the weekly Cabinet meeting and Petillo says the movement is gathering support. BGYEA strongly believes that the people’s message, one of anti-corruption, will be made clear in the Old Capital.

Nigel Petillo, President, BGYEA

“We have been visiting several different communities.  We just got back from Orange Walk this morning where we made the media rounds in Orange Walk.  We have been dialoguing with our partners there in Punta Gorda, Wil Maheia, our brother Emilio Zabaneh in Placencia.  We also have other ways that we want to encourage the general public to be a part of this demonstration.  If for whatever reason you cannot make it physically tomorrow at the National Assembly of this demonstration we’re asking that you participate by way of petition or by the text number that we have up.  You can go on the Facebook, for all you Facebook users on Krem Sunday Review page, like the petition, sign the petition and that way you could share it with your friends as well.  This will also register you as a number, as another individual who stands in solidarity with what’s taking place.  We definitely understand dah noh everybody wah could mek it up deh tomorrow.  I want to even go further and seh that I know that most of our, a lot of our members won’t be able to make it because those are the grassroots people.  Yo miss wa day, yo miss wa pay.  So while we’re urging them to take the sacrifice and make the sacrifice to be out there with us I understand a lot of them won’t be able to make it.  However, for those of you who have cell phones, Smart or Digicell, it doesn’t matter, you could text the word Lands, along with your message, for example, “Lands, I am eighteen years old.  I am trying to apply for a land, how do I go about doing that.  Lands, I sent in my documents for over three, four years now, what do I need to do to get my papers.”  Or whatever advice you want to send to the department but you start off your text with L-A-N-D-S, along with your message to 662-2981.  That information will be forwarded to emails at the Lands Department and to the National Land Reform Committee, that’s our committee that we have just started.”

Channel 5

#459011 - 02/27/13 07:54 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
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BGYEA Protest Small But Fiery and Full Of Foreboding

Today, the capital city hosted its second protest in a month. The teachers were first, UB students second, the UB Faculty third, and today it was BGYEA and other groups. Their issue is land distribution; they say it favours the rich and well connected. It's a complaint that can find resonance all across Belize, as so many people feel - many of them justifiably - that they have been excluded from the land distribution process. But, while it's a common cause not that many were prepared to take the day and take it to the streets of Belmopan today. Jules Vasquez was there to see the crowd:

Jules Vasquez reporting
The crowd of about 135 made the procession around Ring Road with drums, music, and placards. The main message

Nigel Petillo, BGYEA
"Land for the needy."

"Land for the needy."

Nigel Petillo, BGYEA
"What do we want?"


If you couldn't make it out, the call was "Land for the needy, not the greedy." That inequity in the land distribution system was the unifying force behind this demonstration:

Wil Maheia, Activist, PNP
"Every Belizean has a right to own a piece of land and you should not have to know a politician before you could get a piece of land. Every Belizean should be entitled to equal opportunity when getting a piece of land."

Jules Vasquez
"This is such an important and relevant national issue, are you disappointed that only 100 people are here?"

Wil Maheia, Activist, PNP
"I think that silence speaks a lot. I would expect to see more people but considering the victimization that's taking place in this country I am sure it has something to do with that."

Nigel Petillo, BGYEA
"It's a nice turn out. There is a whole heap of patriotic Belizeans out here. To the government - numbers is their thing. They would want to point back on us and say that a little bit of people were out there, but I will have you know that we are being represented here by many members of different communities."

And the procession went before that eternal symbol of the status quo, the National Assembly building. No one was inside but Cabinet was meeting across the way. Their chants couldn't be heard and no one in Cabinet probably cared to look at what in political terms is an inconsequential crowd.

But the negative psychic energy, the ill vibe being sent from here to the seat of power must count for something, because so many Belizeans have a land issue - and everyone here surely did Those who did not come with placards, came with their yellowed, dog eared land papers, a trail and tales of frustration:

William Usher, Protestor
"The reality is the common people of Belize going to the Lands Department - the system is not set up currently where anybody can go into that department be attended to equally and equitably."

Michael Myvette, Chairman - More Tomorrow Village
"I am here in support of the demonstration because we have the similar problem. We have a problem from not only this administration but from the PUP administration."

Major H. Gilbert Swazo (Ret'd), Mayor, Dangriga
"I am here particularly because issue of land is also relevant in Dangriga. I must say here and now that there are several properties in Dangriga that were reserved as far as we are concerned well within 66 feet of any water body that are now being distributed by this Ministry of Lands to private individuals."

Emir Correa, Citizen
"I am out here because it's a just cause. We poor people don't have a chance to get anything with these kinds of politicians we have in this country and what this guy was saying is true. Our constitution doesn't give anything to us - the politicians decides. That is wrong. All of us are Belizeans, my blood is in this country from the 17th century and none of them gave me any land - the Blues and the Reds are the same when it comes to that. They decide who will get. I've been trying to get a piece of land for years and years, I don't know what happen to our application but ot doesn't appear anywhere."

Geovanni Brackett, COLA
"These ministers it seems that we have to carry a theme "I make no apologies" seems to be rap song or the verse, the chorus "I make no apologies." Well we make no apologies of being here today and they understand that we are not here in the thousands, but you know what, from small things can lead to big things and I would urge the organizers of the protest here today that the next time we march if they don't listen here today let's take it through the office of the Ministry of Natural Resources and shut it down."

And while there was hard talk - today's event was peaceful and non-violent. And we'll see how much further they need to take it, or can take it before they get some attention.

Jules Vasquez
"You think any change will come out of this?"

Wil Maheia, Activist, PNP
"Definitely, I believe that the government is listening, they are looking and even though in some people's opinion it's a small crowd - it's a powerful crowd, so it's making a powerful statement."

Emir Correa, Citizen
"I don't think our leaders are so dumb that they don't see this - this could be a bigger crowd. If we come out again it's going to be bigger than this."

Nigel Petillo, BGYEA
"A day like Tuesday is not easy for most of the grassroots people, they missed a day they lose a pay. It's not easy to bring a crowd out here but we are satisfied with this turn out. We are satisfies that these people who are out here means business, they are serious, they want change."

Clearing the Land In Blackman Eddy

And today in Blackman Eddy village they put BGYEA's message into action: villagers marked an area of land, and started clearing it immediately. It's the Harmonyville model: designate a community parcel of land, occupy it, and then force authorities to catch up. Villagers started chopping this morning and when we visited this afternoon, they were still at it.

Shirley Mai White, Candidate for Village Council, Blackman Eddy
"Myself born Belizean 42 years old and don't have a land."

Jules Vasquez reporting
And she wasn't alone; many other villagers from Blackman Eddy shared her predicament. So, this morning they came here to this area at the back of the village.

Shirley Mai White
"I heard and know about this land but then I came and told them; I showed two persons. They want back and tell the others. News in Belize flies faster than the media. When I look this morning there was a heap of people here."

Word is that 40 lots for villagers had been set aside here for distribution, but years passed and nothing happened. And so today, a group of over a hundred villagers took matters into their own hands, they started clearing the area:

Ronnie White, Villager, Blackman Eddy
"We need and deserve a piece of land. You go to the Lands Department for a piece of land and they turn you around; probably you end up in 3-5 years without getting a piece of land. People start decide that they will come together as a community, villagers; Spanish, Garifuna; doesn't matter what color you are. You are a Belizean, you 18 years old and you deserve a piece of land - you can't get it and so you need to stand up and come out here to this place that was prepared for land issue."

"The people decide that they will come out here and clean this place and measure it off, we will put streets where they are supposed to go, we have people that wants land to put churches; they can come and clean out a piece of lot individually and then we will follow the process after the government gets involved."

And they are confident that government will get involved, but someone has to at some point to bring order to this effort.

Jules Vasquez
"In the absence of order/supervision, if somebody say that they cut this piece and another says the same thing and everybody have a machete, you could have problems."

Shirley Mai White
"Not the way I see it, when people are desperate - they desperate for land and not to get aggressive. That's two different things; you can be desperate to fight, but desperate for land. All I am seeing out here from this morning is that they are desperate for land."

And so they pushed forward today - with the steady thwack of machetes - they're making progress but also defying authority - in the attempt to force a positive outcome:

Kevin "Dre" Derek Gordon, Villager
"As you can see right now everybody out here is really in need of something. I mean we can't get a job and we understand that this is for the government. If you notice over there is gringos - only the gringos are buying out the place. We understand right now that because all of us are here they don't want to give us the land because the white man doesn't really want us in the neighborhood - they want their own space. We have to understand that we are from here too and some way somehow we need a piece of land. The way I see it then is that you can't get 25 acres of land lease because you are black like me but a white man can come and get so many pieces of land."

And while it is a community and family effort - even toddlers had on their hardhats - there's also politics involved. Mai-White is running for village chairlady:

Jules Vasquez
"You are running for chairperson? You are not the chairperson. Then it could be seen in professional politics electioneering."

Shirley Mai White
"Jules, I've been around and as I could recall politics is a nasty game and the best player wins. That is all i got to say."

And while she has her ambitions, it is an interesting racial and power dynamic for a place called Blackman Eddy to see immigrant families and creole families working together:

Shirley Mai White
"Blackman Eddy is a 50/50 and we unite. We learn to unite; it's a 50/50 as you can see the Hispanic and the creoles are out here. In fact the way how they are doing the land they say that they want a Spanish and Creole and they agree. I want to learn to speak Spanish; those people are half of me and I am half of them."

And right now they are shoulder to shoulder, trying to force power to make some concession:

Ronnie White, Villager, Blackman Eddy
"If you go personally to Lands Department you would take long. But if you try to stand up like this - like what everybody is doing now - this is across the world. You have to stand up because if you don't stand up you will end up with nothing."

The villagers will continue to work the land on Sunday.

Channel 7

#459040 - 02/27/13 10:20 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
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I supported them with a donation simply because the Minister of lands is stealing prime land and giving to family and friends, so these people deserve their piece

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#459118 - 02/28/13 08:06 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
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Petillo Downcast About Demonstration Turnout

Last night we headlined the land demonstration in Belmopan. It was spearheaded by BGYEA and other groups, but for all the publicity and the public push that it got over a subject that is of extreme public interest, the crowd had to be considered disappointing. In fact, rather than making those in power uncomfortable, it may have served to comfort them - that less than 150 people were upset enough about land distribution to protest. Yesterday when we spoke to Petillo, he glossed over the poor attendance, but today he was more realistic and also downcast:

Nigel Petillo - President, BGYEA (Via Phone)
"Jules, I'll be honest with you, it's not surprise to me that the Belizean people didn't come out there physically. Disappointed, yes, you can say that I am disappointed, but I'll be honest - in fact let me tell you what disappoint me the most. It's the same people who you are fighting for, Jules, the same grassroots poor people who you are trying to open their eyes to make them realize that only when political parties want something from you, they will send that money, mobilize you, feed you, and give you small pocket money for the day. This just tells me that our people, once again, don't get it. Our people have missed it again. In fact, BGYEA members, it is disappointment to see that the same people who you are fighting for, the same people who call me every day and night - Nigel, I haven't gotten my papers as yet. Nigel, I went to try to pay at the Lands Department, and they didn't accept my payment. Nigel, they said that my name wasn't in the system. Nigel, when will I get a piece of land? Those are the same people who we are fighting out there for, not for any personal gain, because you don't vote for us. You all don't give us any money. You all don't pay our bills. We were just trying to stand with you, for you. But once again, you all failed yourself. You fail your children. You failed your country. You failed the future of Belize, and you all once again gave the politicians strength because they believe that they are in total control. Only when the red tells you to move, you want to move, and the same thing with the blue. I realize now that our people are weak; our people are cowards. Our people need to stand their grounds and understand that if you don't fight today, you won't have anything to fight for tomorrow. So, don't try to think you all will pass on this fight to the future generations, and your little kids. You all act like you so love your children, it's now that you need to fight. Yes Jules, numbers, to the politicians, if it's only 200 people who are complaining for land in this country, then we don't have a problem for land. That's how they are going to have it look. Once again, the Belizean people are scared of the politicians. The politicians designed it that way. You who are waiting for the politicians to give you something a long time, are afraid to do something because you believe that you will never get any. So, yesterday's demonstration, to me, was still a success. To the politicians, yes, they will say that only 3 or 4 people were out there, but at the end of the day, we had representatives from different parts of the country."

And while Petillo is down - those friendly to government - who see him as an adversary have launched a mild counter-offensive. They've circulated a document which shows 31 lots in Harmonyville awarded to relatives of Petillo and other BGYEA Executive members. Today we asked him about this:

Jules Vasquez
"They have circulated a list of 31 names, they say, that are your relatives, who you have given land in Harmonyville. This is a list of 31 persons, 20 of them are, they allege, relatives of yours. And Elute Hall has a number, they claim, that a number of his people are on the list as well. They say that you've given your siblings, Charleton Petillo, Jason Petillo, Steven Petillo, Glen Petillo, your wife, your mother, your father, and a number of in-laws by the name of Vanzie, Ochoa, Guzman. The list goes on. You have any response to that?"

Nigel Petillo
"If we were trying ot hide that, Jules, if you notice, all those names are on the list, right. It wasn't anything that we were trying to hide. These are deserving Belizeans as well. We didn't give them any better price than nobody else. They all paid their survey fees, they all paid their contributions, and they will all have to pay their thousand dollars at Lands Department. Every single one of them got 1 acre, or less than an acre. Nobody got more than 1 acre. So, no special preference was there. If Gaspar Vega or the people from Lands Department want to give things to their family members, we don't see anything wrong with that. The issue we have with that is when they sell it for $1.10, or when you under-price it period. So, there is nothing wrong with what we did. My brothers are deserving of land. My mother never owned a piece of land in this country before, and she is 54 years-old. So what's wrong with her owning a piece of land? What's wrong with Elute wanting to make sure that his family members got land. There was no way that they could get land before. We don't know Gaspar Vega; we don't know anybody at Lands Department who can go and say, 'Here's what's happening. I don't know when I will have a form, but maybe you can set aside a 10 acres for me. Jules, I don't see why they are making a big issue out of it. And how much did they say, 20 people out of 1000 people? That;s 1000 people who are complete strangers to us, maybe 20 people are my family. If it's more than 8 members are my direct family, then I could understand that. All the rest are in-laws. So I don't see anything with what we did."

Jules Vasquez
"You sound, a little bit like the Minister of Natural Resources, when he said that he works hard, that his family works hard, and that they are entitled to pieces."

Nigel Petillo
"We never said anything about who work harder than who. I said that they are Belizeans, and they are entitled to land. We didn't do anything that we hid. We were never afaid to give them the land in their names. They applied, and they are deserving of it. They didn't get any special treatment."

Petillo says he's going to take a short break - but will strike up again shortly with his advocacy activities.

Channel 7

#459280 - 03/02/13 08:34 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
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Under pressure in Belmopan on Tuesday morning when his numbers did not materialize, Nigel Petillo, the leader of the Belize Youth Grassroots Empowerment Association (BYGEA), displayed a fierce determination on national television. For this, he must be given big respect.

The fact that the BYGEA demonstration in the national capital did not have major support is a setback to BYGEA. But, more important I think, it is a defeat for the masses of the Belizean people. Everyone knows that the target of the demonstration – the Lands Department of the Natural Resources Ministry, has caused more frustration, heartbreak, and pain for the Belizean masses than any other government department. But, the Belizean people did not show up in numbers on Tuesday.

In their post-mortem discussions, the BYGEA leadership will have to figure out why that was so. In this column, I only wish to look at the situation in overview, and from a distance.

BYGEA chose to make their stand in Belmopan, which is about 7 or 8 miles east from Harmonyville, the land development which BYGEA essentially controls. From Harmonyville to Belmopan, you are operating in the electoral constituencies of Belmopan and Cayo South, which are controlled by the UDP’s John Saldivar and the PUP’s Julius Espat, respectively.

In targeting the Lands Department, you are confronting Natural Resources Minister/Deputy Prime Minister, Gapi Vega, whom Saldivar just openly supported in a national convention ten days ago. You therefore expect that Saldivar will be very much opposed to your demonstration efforts, and that he will do all in his power to ensure that you fail.

All things being equal, BYGEA would have expected that the Cayo South area representative, one of the Opposition PUP’s 5 Deputy leaders, would have supported the demonstration in order to embarrass Vega and the UDP administration, but all things were not equal. There was a story here which other people will have to tell. The upshot of that story is that BYGEA ended up receiving minimal support from the two areas which were most important where its Belmopan battleground was concerned.

Again, there were people of profile who should have been marching in Belmopan on Tuesday who chose not to march, for reasons of their own. All these details will emerge as time goes along.

The main point to make in this column is that the PUDP system won a victory on Tuesday, and the masses of the Belizean people lost. The PUDP system, where the Lands Department in Belmopan is concerned, operates the exact same way whether the blue or the red are in office. BYGEA came from the masses of the people, and BYGEA was fighting, in essence, against both the major parties which control the political system in Belize.

I think the two major parties are concerned about the energies which surround BYGEA, Wil Maheia and the PNP, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA), and the Belize Coalition for Justice (BCJ). Those millions of dollars in campaign funding which both the UDP and the PUP always have at their disposal from oligarchical sources, are available for the PUDP because of the understanding between them, an understanding which amounts to a kind of political monopoly. Nowhere is that understanding between the PUP and the UDP more exposed than in the Lands Department.

From time to time, I criticize Assad Shoman in these pages, but on the issue of land in Belize, Shoman was dead on from the very beginning back then in 1969. Where land policy is concerned, I need to give Assad maximum respect. It was never his style to communicate directly with the people where his personnel crises were concerned, and so his decision to withdraw from electoral politics after 1984 has never received the kind of close, critical analysis which that withdrawal required. Assad Shoman was a controversial personality, but he had a place in Belize’s politics. I believe that.

Shoman lost in Cayo North in 1984 because Hector Silva, the PUP standard bearer he had replaced in Cayo North for the 1974 general elections, came out of retirement to run independent in 1984 and split the PUP’s Cayo North vote. The great Don Hector, then, has his own story to tell.

Anyway, on Tuesday’s positive side, BYGEA brought out Belizeans from all over the country. Good job. We should know that BYGEA put in a huge amount of work to organize this effort. They should not give up. You know, when Castro left Mexico to begin the revolution in Cuba, he had 80 plus people with him in a boat called the Granma. As soon as they landed in Cuba, they were ambushed. Only 12 or 13 survived. With those 12, 13 as a core, Fidel took Cuba in two years time. “You gotta have heart. All you really need is heart.”

Power to the people.


#459786 - 03/09/13 07:22 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
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Nigel Petillo did not draw a very big crowd for his land reform protest in spite of much promoting and advertising. His biggest disappointment was obviously with the very people of Harmonyville, who stood to gain the most from that exercise. Welcome Nigel, to the real world.

According to Petillo, his Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association, (BGYEA), has over 6,000 members, 1000 of which are active dues paying members who meet on a regular basis. These 1000 members all have in land application and so far, only five have been able to acquire titles. Estimates put the number of persons at the demonstration at anywhere between one and two hundred people. If only just the people who would have directly benefited had attended, there should have been at least nine hundred and ninety five people at that rally.

Nigel Petillo has learned that in Belize, it is easier to be a martyr than to be a leader. In fact, I’m not even sure if it is just a Belizean thing or maybe a general human trait. People will listen to you, urge you on and tell you that they are behind you all the way. They will tell you that they have your back but when you look back, you will find that you are all alone fighting whatever monster you’re confronting. Regardless of how important the issues are and how many people are being affected, unless you are willing to dole out money to rent a mob, it becomes a lonesome job.

Organizing a demonstration is usually a risky venture. If you draw a big crowd you will have succeeded but if you don’t, it suggests to the powers that be that your cause is not important to the public. The students of the University of Belize (UB) learned that lesson the hard way. Even though their cause was just and of importance to not only current students, but all who would attend UB in the future, few students attended. There were probably less participants than picket signs at their protest and the government went right on ahead and raised tuition cost. Do people really care?

I would have thought that the issue of land and corrupt practices at the Lands Department would have been of interest to more people. Despite rapid growth in our population over the past few decades, there is still less people per acre of land in Belize, than almost anywhere else in the world. For sure, Belize is still one of the most sparsely populated countries in our region. Covering a distance of 8,867 square miles or 22, 966 square kilometers, that translates into five million plus acres of land. With just a little over three hundred thousand people, one would think that every single Belizean could own at least a lot to build a house, if not an acre. This is what Petillo is fighting for.

Unfortunately, while many people would stand to profit if he wins, few are willing to stand up and help Petillo fight. Is it that they are afraid or is it that they simply just do not care enough? Gapi Vega has been using the Lands Department as his private domain and has been giving land to brother, daughter, nieces and some even remotely related. Leading up to the last election, he was giving out land as prize at all UDP conventions. The corruption at the Lands Department is endemic. What Petillo is saying is that while even recent immigrants can go to the Lands Department and quickly acquire a title, he and his group from Harmonyville have been trying for five years and are having no luck.

The history of Harmonyville is an interesting one. A parcel of land which started out at 15,000 thousand acres has steadily dwindled down until now, Petillo and his band are fighting for titles to a little over a thousand acres to build a community. No one knows where the other 14,000 acres have gone. One thing we know is that there is a real estate group named, Buy Belize, which has recently been advertising 50 acres of land for $85,000 USD. Interestingly enough, the land being advertised is listed as being in Harmonyville at mile 41 on the Western Highway near the village of Cotton Tree. Isn’t that some of the same land that Petillo and his group are fighting for?

The land now known as Harmonyville is actually not even owned by the government. It was supposedly bought many years ago by a group of Taiwanese immigrants. How much they paid and who they paid it to, is as much a mystery as to what eventually happened to thse Taiwanese. In an interview given in 2010, Representative John Saldivar stated that as far as he knew, the principal owner was either dead or in jail. What we do know is that the land seems to have been abandoned and no taxes have been paid. At first, it was mostly Central American immigrants, including some Guatemalans, who began squatting on the land. According to Petillo, after he and some friends and family from Belmopan spent many years going through the proper process and getting nowhere, and after seeing these immigrants acquiring titles after doing it the illegal way, they decided why not. They got together as a group, paid for the surveying and laid out their community.

BGYEA has been back and forth with the government, getting promises and sometimes seeming to get some headway. Minister of Lands Gasper Vega even promised in a televised interview to pay half of their surveying cost and to begin the process of granting them titles. That of course, was before the elections.

Minister Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam arrived in Belize this week. A major focus of Farrakhan’s message to black people has always been to secure your land. Ownership of land is an integral step toward economic success. There is more than enough land in Belize still available to ensure that every citizen can acquire a parcel. If Vega’s abnormal family can get theirs, then so can the rest of us. Petillo’s demonstration was not big but something tells me that if this land situation is not rectified soon, the noise will get louder and the crowd will get bigger. God’s goodness gave this land to us, all of us, not just these greedy politicians.

G. Michael Reid
Citizen of the world

#490761 - 05/11/14 05:06 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,324
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Ministry of Natural Resources issues eviction notice to Harmonyville residents

The Ministry of Natural Resources has issued an eviction notice for residents of Harmonyville occupying the Buffer Zone Area (reserve).

The Ministry underscored in a press release this week, that the Buffer Zone Areas in any development are the property of the Government of Belize and should be left in its natural state.

Nigel Petillo, president of the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association BGYEA, told the Reporter on Friday that the eviction notice affects his organization as well as ten families who have been squatting on the land.

Petillo explained that when BGYEA first arrived at Harmonyville to develop the area five families were squatting on the land. Those families were asked to relocate and received an acre of land with the community. They did not move when asked to and over time other families went to squat on the site which later became the Buffer Zone area.

Petillo says that BGYEA and the ministry had gone to the site on April 29 to reserve eviction notices, reminding the occupants that they should not be in the area. The notice also affects BGYEA because the organization has planted corn in the area without permission from the ministry. Petillo says that BGYEA is applying for the permission and is hoping for a favorable response from the commissioner of lands.

Since 2010 BGYEA has been lobbying with the government for a development community 42 miles on the George Price Highway. The organization has had several problems with the Lands Department over the years leading up to a demonstration in Belmopan last February.

The Reporter

#491260 - 05/23/14 04:18 AM Re: Harmonyville to Minister: show me land titles [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,324
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Harmonyville Subdivision - miles 41 and 42 on the George Price Highway

PRESS RELEASE: Government of Belize Press Office

Belmopan. May 22, 2014. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture takes this opportunity to share the following facts on the Harmonyville Subdivision:-

1. In 2010 Cabinet approved the acquisition of 1,327.139 acres of land located between miles 41 and 42 on the George Price Highway- the area now known as Harmonyville Subdivision.

2. Acquisition cost- BZ$1,990,708.50 plus 3% interest.

3. Cabinet subsequently approved the subdivision design for the development that includes over 1000 one acre plots, open areas (parks, cemetery, and school) and the buffer strip (reserve) along the highway.

4. Cabinet further approved for the distribution of lots to be done based on the recommendation of BGYEA.

5. Cabinet also agreed that the purchase price for each one acre plot be at a social rate of $1000/ one acre plot.

a. Note- the purchase price for regular a house lot in rural areas is currently $1,500/lot. A one acre plot allows for 4 regular house lots (100ft/100ft).

Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture
H.M. Queen Elizabeth II Boulevard, Belmopan, Belize, C.A.
Ph: (501) 802-2630 Fax: (501) 802-2333
Email: <>, <>, <>

6. In 2011, the Department of Lands and Surveys facilitated the urgent acceptance and processing of applications from BGYEA members by accommodating for an unusual opening of our offices on three consecutive weekends and also by the deployment of additional staff to further facilitate.

7. To date, over 1,040 leases have been accepted, processed and approved for lots measuring an acre each to members of BGYEA and other individuals on the recommendation of BGYEA.

8. The buffer zone (reserve) of approximately 29 acres separates the Harmonyville subdivision from the George Price Highway.

9. In late April 2014, BGYEA sought assistance from the Department of Lands and Surveys to evict squatters who had encroached into the buffer zone.

10. On April 29th, 2014 the Department of Lands and Surveys intervened and issued eviction notices to the squatters.

11. On May 5th, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture observed clearing of the buffer zone and upon inspection, learned that BGYEA entered into an arrangement with one, Mr. Sam Patton, to cultivate corn in the same buffer zone.

12. On May 8th, 2014 the Ministry of Natural Resources ordered Mr. Sam Patton to cease and desist with the clearing activities.

13. On May 9th, BGYEA wrote to the Ministry of Natural Resources seeking permission from the Department of Lands and Surveys to continue the cultivation of corn in the buffer.

14. On May 13th, Cabinet did not approve for the buffer to be used and so the request was denied.

15. There was a duplication case where a title for 5 acres was issued to Mr. Roy Gordon that overlapped with part of the buffer. This matter has been discussed and settled with Mr. Gordon who understood the rationale for the buffer and agreed to move. The title has been withdrawn.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture welcomes further peaceful constructive and timely dialogue with the Harmonyville community to ensure proper development of this area. We remain open to dialogue on this matter in an effort to facilitate a solution that would be in the best interest of the country.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture extends its appreciation to the general public for their cooperation and understanding in this matter.


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