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Jul 15, 2014

Vallejos Blames Incompetence and Corruption for Problems in Lands…

Wilbert Vallejos

The Novelo incident is not an isolated case, and it seems that not a week goes by without some land dispute or the other in some corner of the country. Very often it’s caused by what we’ll call a glitch in the Ministry of Natural Resources – in a nutshell, somebody owns a piece of land, either through title or lease, and suddenly some other party shows up with a valid lease or title to that same piece of land. Vallejos says a big part of the problem has been the transition from the old deed system to the new land registration system. That creates gaps, or loopholes which unscrupulous lands employees are only too happy to exploit.

 

Wilbert Vallejos, Lands Commissioner

“Of course there is the issue of officers not being truthful with their investigations. The Lands and surveys department does three main things – we gather information…we go out there, gather information and ensure that what people are telling us is indeed true. We record that information once we have gathered it, and then we share that information with all concerned. The process of gathering information is what many times gets us into trouble. Officers write wrong reports for whatever reason – error, intentionally, whatever it is – and then the people that make the decisions that sit in offices like me and the Minister, are unable to obviously ensure or confirm that what is being reported to us is in fact the truth…then you find out that BOOM, a problem happens, and we call it an error, and the problem is that the damage is already done, and people have legitimate expectations. You have your title, you have your lease, you have your next title, so the government is obligated to respect the rights of everybody. People do not want to settle, people do not want to compromise and so it ends up in court.”

 

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