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May 24, 2018

Maya Mopan Family Dispossessed

A family in Maya Mopan is without a home tonight after their home was dismantled by local authorities in Belmopan. The family says they have been left out in the cold – despite the fact that they have been living on the property for about fifteen years. Their gripe with the situation is that a few years ago they were told they can start the process to legally obtain the land, but when they tried to make payment, they were denied. And shortly after they were told that the land had been sold right from under them. Andrea Polanco stopped by today to find out more from the family.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This is what’s left of the Ayala’s family home in Maya Mopan. It was knocked down earlier this week because the family was informed that they were squatting. They have been living here for about fifteen years, because according to Anna Teck Ayala, her husband had paid a small sum to buy the land from someone way back in the early 2000’s. But after that person passed on, two years ago they attempted to purchase this piece of land with title, but were flatly rejected. Ayala says the house was torn down with most of her possessions inside – despite asking for time to relocate. Now, all her possessions are lying around her relative’s home and they have to look for a more permanent place to live.

 

Ana Teck Ayala

Ana Teck Ayala, Homeowner

“They were saying I am squatting on the land, but to me I wasn’t squatting on the land. I am willing to pay the land. Last year in February I tried to pay the land. Three times I went to pay for the land and they didn’t want to accept the money. At first, Mister Manzanero told me it is in my husband name and that is why I really wanted to pay it because he can transfer it into my name because I am a Belizean. I am born here. But when I went into the office, Mister Manzanero said he will not accept any money from me and he will not give me any land because he said that he done sell it already.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What year did you start trying to pay for it? How long ago?”

 

Ana Teck Ayala

“Last two years. The inspector came and see us and he told us that if we wanted the land we could pay it. It is seven-thousand dollars if we want it. But we if want to pay it just like that, lee bit by lee bit, he said we can pay one thousand two hundred by the office and they could give us in our name. I tried to do that but they didn’t want to accept my money. Three times I went with the same money in my hand. I am not saying lie because lies can’t make me free; the truth will make me free.”

 

And because they have lived here for this extended period, according to attorney Arthur Saldivar, because the land was the property of RECONDEV, the Ayalas had rights to it. But now this family has no recourse –he explains.

 

Arthur Saldivar

Arthur Saldivar, Attorney

“Their tenure on this property cannot be deemed squatting as we would be using the term ordinarily. Some time ago, more than twelve years ago, the present are representative John Saldivar had given verbal authority to these persons to be here on this property.   If the land is government land, vis-a-vis land that falls under the Ministry of Natural Resources, it is thirty years; but RECONDEV is not government. It is a private corporation that stands in basically the same position as you or I. So, if it was our land, your land, it would only require the person being there for twelve years. So, the corporation is no different. The right would have accrued for adverse possession to take place and for title by prescription to be made allowable. Possession is nine-ten of the law and they are no longer in possession. What the law requires is twelve years continuous and undisturbed occupation without acknowledgement to a person or entity with a superior title. In this particular instance before anything could have been engaged in court, they were dispossessed of the land. So, they are no longer in possession or control; they are no longer in occupation. So, there’s not much that can be done here in relation to this particular parcel of land.”

 

Saldivar calls this most recent incident political victimization; but for Ayala, she says it feels like a bad heartbreak resulting from her disappointment in the politicians in Belmopan.

 

Arthur Saldivar

“This is a clear-cut case of political victimization, from my point of view. It is something that has been practiced here in Belmopan, widely, under the present administration. What we have seen and what we have heard from persons whose homes were broken down recently, they were used up until the time of elections. And as soon as elections were over, they were told that we no longer need you.”

 

Ana Teck Ayala

“John Saldivar is getting tired of the people, that’s what I am thinking now.  You see, we put our votes for them and when they campaign they pass house to house and ask for our votes and we do it. You see when they get the seat now; you see what happen, what they are doing to the people.   Like my husband said, it feels like our heart get broken because we lost everything. We have to start build up everything back again.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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