And while Briceno protested the ten thousand dollar payment inside the house, outside there was another protest, this one about land.
A group of about 40 villagers from Stann Creek gathered at the steps of the National Assembly building to voice their concerns because they say they their village lands are the subject of a land grab. Courtney Weatherburne heard their complaints.
Courtney Weatherburne reporting
While there were the usual fiery exchanges between members of the House, a small but vocal crowd of protesters assembled outside. Silk Grass and Santa Cruz residents are claiming that UDP Standard Bearer Melvin Hulse is illegally selling off their land and according to them, it is facilitated by corruption in the Lands department.
Solomon Andrews, Chairman, Silk Grass Village
"The issue is that I have over 160 house lots that the was issued from 2008 and they had a change of government in 2008 and from since then it was frozen in the computer at the lands department, the people can't go in and make payments for the land and so up to now we still have that same problem. They have about 5 more months to let that grace period expires for the 7 years, so that a very much concern for the people of Silk Grass Village. It is corruption because then if it was something that they could have gotten fixed they would fix it a long time ago but they don't want to fix it seems like to me because they said from last 3 weeks ago that they would have got it cleared up and I sent in some people and they went and made checks and they told some next 2 months, they told some next month. I went in last week Friday and they told me that the ending of this month that it would have been cleared up, but now the people went in and they told them that they need to see someone in the department here in Belmopan, so it's just a push around."
Claudia Salinas, Silk Grass Resident
"We got the land, but we don't have the lease and then Mr. Hulse wants to take our land and give it to other people. This is the only land that we have. The village is bushy and they don't clean it and the water pressure is very low."
Santa Cruz resident Felipe Zetina claims that Hulse is not only taking personal land but also land reserved for the construction of schools in the village.
Felipe Zetina, Santa Cruz Resident
"We are here because Santa Cruz lands are under a great risk. Some sinister figures namely Mr. Hulse and others are trying to sell our lands that have been allocated for schools, water systems and they are selling it under the table for money. What is happening is that the interest of the villagers is being sacrifice for self-interest. We have a lot of children, we have people that desperately needs lots and they are just selling lots by acres; 10 acres, under the table also. The village council, the chairman is not respected."
And land is not the only issue plaguing these villagers.
Felix Baide, Santa Cruz Resident
"This land was donated by the European Union. Now these people want to collect $75 from everyone."
Emerson Arana, Silk Grass Resident
"Don't take advantage of us because we are poor people, we have common sense, we don't have nonsense. We are going to fight for our rights."
But the reaction from the crowd shifted to a hopeful note when leader of the opposition Francis Fonseca and Rodwell Ferguson emerged from the National Assembly to address the crowd. Ferguson pledged his commitment and support to the people of Silk Grass and Santa Cruz.
Hon. Rodwell Ferguson, Area Rep. SC West
"I came today, they ask me to join them and I have join the fight and I hope after today that this will be resolved. When I visited the commissioner of lands about 3 weeks ago, he told before I opened my mouth, he said I don't want to hear what you got to say because the Silk Grass land situation will be resolve in a matter of two or three days because they have found all the documents, its only for signature. To date, three weeks after they are still going to the Lands Department to try to pay for their right and they cannot do so, so they are here today expressing how they feel about the situation."
We spoke with UDP Standard Bearer for Stann Creek West Melvin Hulse and he says the allegations against him are completely false. He said that he isn't surprised who is leading the protest but says they are quote, "aliens" who are trying to land grab for themselves.
He adds that he is supporting development in these including the building of the school in Santa Cruz.