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Sep 7, 2017

Las Flores villagers protest land sale at City Hall

The Las Flores Steering Committee has been leading the fight against the completed sale of parcels eighty-seven-thirteen and eighty-seven-fourteen near Saint Michael R.C. Primary School in the community outside Belmopan to a resident, Amy Chen. The community insists that the parcels were intended for the future expansion of the school and its sale is disrespectful to residents both young and old. On Tuesday a decision to grant title by Mayor Khalid Belisle to the property on which the school sits and the softball and futsal fields nearby was rejected by the Committee, which says it and residents were not consulted and that nothing less than the return of the two parcels of land is acceptable. Today, they were out protesting the sale, saying that City Hall is unfairly leveraging the future of its youth. Aaron Humes has a report from the national capital.

 

Angel Ajpop, Resident

Angel Ajpop

“Today’s protest was based because of the land that has been taken away from the community of Las Flores – not necessarily the older people of Las Flores, but the future of Las Flores, the future of Belize, which are the kids. For example, one standing next to me, that he willingly decided not to go to school, because he knows what is being taken away from him. So the police just authorized us to do two rounds, that’s what we are going to comply with. But if the Mayor does not take back – the buyer does not decide to give us back what is rightfully for the community then we are going to do a larger one, and we know that the people stand behind us.” [Applause]

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

And that, in a nutshell, is what brought these residents of one of the original communities making up the nation’s capital out to its seat of power onTrinity Boulevard. They made clear, though in silence, their frustration with Mayor Khalid Belisle; with Father Jordan Gongora of the Catholic Mission; and with the purchaser of parcel 8713, Amy Chen, over the stripping away of property considered invaluable to the community. Even without a formal permit, a few youngsters marched two turns of Unity andTrinity Boulevardin the morning sun along with their parents and family members, holding up signs imploring the Belmopan City Council to reconsider its decision. The proposed solution – granting other pieces of land in exchange – is considered wholly unacceptable due to the history of the community as explained by several speakers.

 

Francisco Chavez Ajpop

Francisco Chavez Ajpop, Past Chairman, Las Flores (Translated)

“I want you all to know that Francisco Figueroa and I received the land that they are trying to take away. But that will not happen because I can see the solidarity of the community and I hope it continues. United we will never be defeated. We are in a fight. Promises have been made but there is no solution as yet. The solution will come from the effort of everyone, not only from us leaders but from the people who have come here today and who will continue to support us.”

 

Valentin Ortiz, Resident, Las Flores (Translated)

Valentin Ortiz

“I want to also emphasize what brother Francisco has said because I have been a founding member of Las Flores. When I came to Las Flores it was the same year that the land was handed over. I arrived in Las Flores in 1985. I arrived in Belize in 1980 but I stayed five years in Orange Walk. I then came to Las Flores in 1985 and I have been here since.”

 

And member of the Las Flores Steering Committee Wendy Hernandez maintains that there is no politics involved, only the future of the community.

 

Wendy Hernandez

Wendy Hernandez, Member, Las Flores Steering Committee

“I would just like to say that this is not a political campaign; driven by the P.U.P., like how the U.D.P. has clearly been stating – it is something driven by the residents of Las Flores. We have different people here from different religious denominations, political parties, joining. So it’s one voice – it’s the community of Las Flores, not a political party, driving this issue.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

Neither Father Gongora nor Mayor Belisle was in office when we visited following the protest.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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