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Mar 31, 2010

Citizens stake their claim in HarmonyVille, privately owned land

news1Thirteen hundred acres of land in the vicinity of Cotton Tree Village has been up for grabs ever since the government realized that the Taiwanese owners have not been paying property taxes. According to John Saldivar Area Representative for Belmopan, the principal owner is either in jail or dead somewhere on the other side of the planet. For years some residents of Belmopan and Cotton Tree have been laying their claim to small parcels on the property. The government has recently indicated it intends to acquire the land, but a group of citizens have decided to organize themselves and claim their slice of the pie.  Cabinet has issued  an advisory to stop any new developments by squatters. But according to the grass roots organizers, they aren’t squatters because the land is not government owned. This afternoon they stop by News Five to explain why they decided to lay a claim to the land they know call HarmonyVille.

Jose Sanchez

“The Cabinet sent a release for the thirteen hundred acres, that any new squatter should cease and desist  and stop from clearing new land, are you squatting on the land? What have you been legally advised?

Nigel Petillo, Organizer of HarmonyVille

“Jose we are not squatters, first of all this a registered land act in the laws of Belize. It says the ownership of land may be acquired by open, peaceful and uninterrupted position for a period of twelve years and without the permission of any person lawfully entitled to such possession. Clearly stating and let me stress out, all of our meetings have been well attended, opened. We have people filing machetes, having their axe prepared for cutting. You no hear no reports about people di get chop up. You nothing bad di go on back there. It’s an orderly fashion there. So far, we have all been working together with the immigrants, we the Belizeans especially and nothing. We have members who have a part of our association for over fourteen years. So it’s clear to us we are acting within the laws and hence the reason the government cannot actually tell us to get off the land. They can’t tell us to get off the land. It’s not their land and actually it’s our land now.”

Jose Sanchez

“It’s not the government’s land none at all. It’s supposedly owned by one or several Taiwanese businessmen. So it’s private land isn’t it?

Nigel Petillo

That’s right. It’s private land.”

Jose Sanchez

“What have been advised regaqrding the Taiwanese men or business owners?

Nigel Petillo

“Well we haven’t heard nothing from them. The government haven’t heard nothing from them as far as I’m concerned. We are going to be working together planning this community harmony. We are working with the government so far.”

Jose Sanchez

“HarmonVille itself, how will the land be divided? Who decides how the land will be divided?”

Kirk Garnett, Organizer of HarmonyVille

“Well, right now we are using the same first come first served basis. Those come first are being the preferential people. Those who are living there will have that preference of having that first process done with them. Then eventually we hope that the government could facilitate the rest of the people that have expressed  the same desire to have piece of this dream.”

Jose Sanchez

“Would you say then that looking at other poor immigrants from Central America, coming to Belize, sitting on a piece of land around Belmopan, Salvapan for example, seeing them come and lay claim drove you to form HarmonyVille?”

Kirk Garnett

“Yes it has because these people were our classmates at school and we used to see them. They came as immigrants from poverty and now we see them with much more than we the Belmopanese, you understand. With all respect, it’s not to sound racial or anything like that. Because like I said we went to School with them and those same people are standing in solidarity with us.”

Jose Sanchez

“So essentially you learned from them?”

Kirk Garnett

“Yes, we learned from them. It took us so long, but this generation we decided, we saw it work so we’re going to make it work for our people.”

The organizers of HarmonyVille say they plan to continue to register new members who want to farm at the site.

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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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9 Responses for “Citizens stake their claim in HarmonyVille, privately owned land”

  1. Ras Dave says:

    I agree with the organizers of “Harmony Ville.” I am a born Belizean Youth making $40,000.00 a year and no government taught I was fit to own a peace of land in the city. My wife and I through political connection of one of my friends, eventually got a house in the DFC group. It isn’t right wat born Belizeans go through. I will join this cause.
    Power To The People.

  2. Maddy vandijk says:

    I see a group of positive men working towards a good and productive cause; I hope that the government will want to support this cause as well.
    I really don’t how this land thing will end eventually; it is like government trying to steal legal land again. Land paid for to the government of Belize.
    I have a piece of land and house in Cayo district, and I hope the government is not planning to take away peoples land again, something they are good at.
    Where is the proof that the owner/s are dead and have no family to inherit their land.

  3. Common Sense says:

    Agree. Stand up now before everything sold or given away……check out the land situation in San Pedro for example, no land there for Belizeans except septic swamp and ghetto, even that has a restrictive selling price.
    Time real and PURE democracy makes a stand – people power and the will of the people, NOT the will of money hungry crooks. Their money grabbing (both parties PUP and UDP the same) forcing us back into slavery days.
    No back down HarmonyVille….Jah/Allah/God will strengthen.

  4. Belizean on point says:

    I agree… its time to take a stand!!!!! it seems like the only logical way to get the opportunity to own a piece of land which is the birth right of all Belizeans; but never a reality for the most part!

    Keep the peace, and the head on the body! i hope government seeks to support this venture instead of resisting… that will only create more annimosity and disadvantage to those in need! Governement needs not to act like a JackAss!!!

  5. Jose A. Chacon aka Chami-Ka says:

    Respect to Kirk, Nigel, Barnett and the other two rasta brethrens. HarmonyVille sounds like a great plan. I am glad to see that you guys are brave to stand up and claim your right…the right to a piece of land to live and farm. Life haad! And land is only available to certain people with the right links.

    Keep it positive. Hopefully the government will assist in sorting out the legalities. Wish you the best of luck with that project. Peace!

  6. real says:

    In all respect, The people of Belize have finally come alive, prepared to fight for their way of life. This is only a start. With the global economy in crises and Belize’s rsing cost of living, we will see people fighting to change the governmental decisions. However, we must strive to keep the peace. All people deserve a chance at sustaining a living.

  7. Better Belize says:

    we need for government not to take away land but facilitate the development of this area!!! Government can provide the technically expertize to equally divide the lands and plan the general layout.

    ANY RURAL PLANNER OR DEMOGRAPHER WANTS TO HELP IN BUILDING THIS AREA???

  8. Joe D Knows CHild says:

    Bunch of hoggish belizeans tryin to get free thing…Work hard like d rest of us and stake your claim on something legal.what gives u d rite to stake claim on what is not urs…dis means i should get a piece too….all of us should. if the system has failed u then take your grief to belmopan. I guarantee u’ll get wicked support from the masses

  9. cg says:

    with the pattern of behaviour GOB has, don’t be surprised they are taken off the land to profit already wealthy people.

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