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Oct 27, 2015

Jalacte Residents Irate Over Building of Agriculture Office

Mis expressed frustration that Maya communal lands, particularly in the village of Jalacte, are still being accessed and used for public purpose without the consent of villagers.  The inauguration of an agriculture office in Jalacte which was scheduled for Wednesday has reportedly been called off after the Agriculture Department caught wind of a protest being organized by villagers.

 

Pablo Mis, Program Coordinator, MLA

“The communities are obviously very frustrated and they realize that this is really the failure of the government to protect the rule of law.  Tomorrow, for instance, there is an inauguration of a learning center at Jalacte.  Again, land being taken away from villagers without their consent, without them being consulted.  Essentially, as they described it, it’s like being invited to a party on their own land which they were never a part of.  And I can confirm, for instance, that tomorrow Jalacte will be coming out to show to those in authority that they are not happy with the way that government is pursuing the acquisition, the forceful acquisition or what appears to be the forceful acquisition of community land.”

 

Reporter

“Is the Alcalde from Jalacte out here today?”

 

Pablo Mis

Pablo Mis

“The Alcalde of Jalacte is out here, I believe he is in court already.”

 

Reporter

“So are you saying that the government had no consultation with the people of Jalacte before they erected a station in Jalacte?”

 

Pablo Mis

“Late last year, we delivered to the prime minister a copy of the Maya consultation framework which outlines very clearly and very specifically the methods and the steps that must be taken when consultation is to be held in the Maya communities.  That absolutely has not been followed.  In fact, in late last year Jalacte had reached out to the agricultural officer here for an explanation as to what is going on but no response has been given to that letter.  So yes, there has been no proper consultation, no consent has been given by Jalacte for that piece of land to be taken away from them.  Now I want to be very clear, Jalacte is not saying no to these kinds of development, these are essential but you’re not following the rule of law.  Nowhere in Belize can you just go on anybody’s property and do as you please.  The government does have the authority to acquire land for public purpose but the law specifically outlines what has to be done and that hasn’t happened in the case of Jalacte.”

 

There has been no disclosure to attorneys for the Santa Cruz Thirteen. The protesters claim they were only allowed a two-hour window to demonstrate. 

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