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Jun 21, 2018

Maya Leaders Question Effectiveness of the B.D.F. in Keeping Guatemalan Farmers Away in the South

The village of Otoxha in Toledo has become a hot spot for illegal incursions by farmers from Guatemala who have been clearing of tracts of land for farming purposes. Other communities such as San Vicente, Jalacte and Dolores and San Benito Poite are also confronted by encroachers and the lives of leaders are threatened. The communities have met with the Maya Leaders Alliance as well as the Toledo Alcalde Association and have been appealing for action. On Wednesday, the Ministry of National Security John Saldivar, accompanied by Ambassador Alexis Rosado, headed down south to the village of Dolores where a gathering was held with the various communities that are living with the encroachments. The MLA’s Cristina Coc presented the findings of the communities contained in a report to be forwarded to G.O.B.  Coc gave specific details of the difficulties in each community where Guatemalans have been entering illegally, sometimes aided by locals. She called out the B.D.F. for not being able to cope with the illegal activities.

 

Cristina Coc

Cristina Coc, Maya Leaders Alliance

“In 2003 and 2008, Guatemalan Omar Ramos illegally farmed ten to twenty acres in the south west corner of Otoxha. Between April and June of 2018, which is more recently, approximately one hundred acres of land was clear cut by Guatemalan trespassers. Conflict has escalated; this is evidence and it is detailed in the report where shots were fired at local leaders upon investigation of this clearing. Currently the B.D.F.—it has been observed—is conducting weekly patrols in the area and the community is very happy to see that. But there is a heightened concern among the villagers for the safety of their leaders and the safety of the village residents. In Jalacte, Guatemalan settlement and cattle enclosures have been illegal occupying village lands for decades with little to no government intervention. Case in point, Alo Grande; this is a long and old settlement that has not been remedied. The government of Guatemala began surveying and issuing land along the Guatemalan side of the border; however, these surveys began to encroach on Belizean land, completely ignoring the borders. Significant increase in the free flow of people following the construction of the highway allows for an increase in the frequency and ease of incursions. The B.D.F. outpost in Jalacte unfortunately has been ineffective in preventing these incursions. Jalacte village leaders have been unsupported in their efforts to curb these incursions.”

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