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Jan 31, 2011

Squatters reject invitation of Harmonyville developers

The land being reclaimed by the Belize Grass Roots Youth Empowerment Association, BGYEA, is thirteen hundred acres and includes an area already being settled by a group comprising mostly of Central American immigrants; they have named the area Valle Nuevo.  BGYEA convened a meeting on Sunday for persons who want to legitimately own a piece of land in the new community. His invitation to those at Valle Nuevo was flatly rejected.  So when he went to their site, BGYEA’s President Nigel Petillo’s presence erupted into heated exchanges with the land occupiers.  News Five’s Marion Ali has the story.

Marion Ali, Reporting

There were two meetings held on Sunday on the Western Highway, one at Mile forty, occupied by mostly Hispanic settlers who originate from neighboring Guatemala.  And there was another meeting half a mile further up the highway, for Belizeans who want to acquire an acre through the process being facilitated by the Belize Grass Roots Youth Empowerment Association, BGYEA.  Both meetings had the same common objective; the people wanted to gain ownership of land in the area, previously called Capital Garden.  But that was the only commonality between them.  President of BGYEA, Nigel Petillo, arrived at the area to invite the settlers to BGYEA’s meeting, but that resulted in a back and forth between the two groups and our camera was there.

Dennis Avila

Dennis Avila, Settler, Mile 40

“We have been here for almost nine years, some over, some maybe five years, but we have been here working hard, we have been developing the land. And year and a half now, we have had some conflict with Mister Petillo. He came and art first, he told us that we were going to work together to try to see if we could get lands. Now what happen after that was that he now is trying to abuse our rights by the way that a lot of people have had lands, he came he destroyed any plants they had in it and gave it to other people.”

Marion Ali

“He can’t do that, it’s government land.”

Dennis Avila

“He cannot, but that’s what he’s doing.”

Nigel Petillo, President, BGYEA

Nigel Petillo

“We come invite unu to the meeting. You guys know the official process that is being held here. Once again I’ll invite unu to come to the meeting. It’s about to begin ten o’clock. This resistance that you are creating here only wah hold back the process here. I have told all of you already that as long as you are here and you have your places developed here, you have wah piece of land fi get yah just like every other Belizean wah get wah one acre piece as well.”

Dennis Avila

“We did not know he had permission to survey from government until we went to speak to the Commissioner.”

Nigel Petillo

“We explained to everybody, we brought a copy of the survey give it to the community with a copy of the approved plan by the Ministry of natural Resources again explaining to them the boundaries, the buffer zones and the one acre parcels so that they could all work together and abide by that approved plan. However we continue to proceed with our survey and it meant that we had to chop some limbs of different trees that were planted already so that we could pass through but we ask—dah noh like we just walk pan it. We haven’t touched nobody structure. We explain to some of them that some of the structure that are in the buffer zone; they deh ina di buffer zone, [so] they have to move.”

The squatters say they feel aggrieved because their rights are being violated through the new process, but BGYEA’s representatives maintain that they simply can’t be allowed to hold the large tracts of land when Belizeans are also in need of the land.

Ruben Hernandez, Settler, Ml 40

Ruben Hernandez

“What we want dah mek they respect our people. If this person develop ten acres and this person think fi lef six acres but ih wah lef two just an example right.”

Dianne Finnegan

Dianne Finnegan, Board Member, BGYEA

“And you keep saying our people and they. It’s not they or our people, it’s about Belizeans and what was asked is that each person who does not have a piece of land get an acre of land. So nobody can come and say oh they were clearing out ten acres and was squatting on it and we must respect that, no.”

Settler, Mile 40

“What happen with those areas over there? If we noh go inside to clean, nobody clean. Just want to come to take the pieces that is clean already, that’s the point.”

kurt garnett

Kurt Garnett, Member, BGYEA

“Guatemala noh recognize fi we sovereignty you understand? So we shouldn’t even make wah Guatemalan wah Belizean citizen, but we do. Now that we do make you all citizens, uyou have to go through the process like anybody else and apply fi land.”

Dennis Avila

“You all claim that we are Guatemantecans that have come here.”

Kurt Garnett

“I’m giving you an instance. I noh the claim all ah unu dah Guatemantecans. I di give unu wah instance.”

Dennis Avila

“No but see, this dah the issue weh unu push all the time. And this dah weh we dislike cause we are all Belizeans. So why can’t you all call us Belizeans? Why do you have to call us Guatemantecans.”

The squatters did not attend BGYEA’s meeting and instead were taking down their own list of names.  BGYEA contends that some of them will have to be relocated because there will be the buffer zone of two hundred feet from the highway, where some of the houses have been built.  Whether those people will be compensated for the work and development they have invested on those lands is not yet certain, but they have told News Five that they got permission from Minister of State, Ramon Witz, to go ahead and occupy the land.  We tried to get Witz to explain his position to us, but he was unavailable.  As for BGYEA, the group had already completed phase one of the six-phase project, and one hundred and sixty two Belizeans who have paid for their surveys on their acre of land received tours of the area.  Marion Ali for News Five.

Land leases are expected to be distributed at the end of next month.

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56 Responses for “Squatters reject invitation of Harmonyville developers”

  1. BZNinCALI says:

    Thank you louisville, ky. David the term “squatters” is not racist, that relative who moved into your mother’s yard 25 years ago whom she cannot get out or cajole into paying his/her share of the property tax is considered a squatter. It is easy to tell a tale about the Chinese man giving them permission to clear & live on the land, he is dead, he cannot contradict that story. They do not have that in writing, they also claim that they have the Government’s permission. Which of these stories are true? Come up with a good lie & stick with it.

    If time in country is the deciding factor, I have three nephews who have never been in trouble & work every day, I will loan them the money so that each of them can get their acre. They were born & raised in the country & their roots in Belize go back more than 6 generations.

    Large & Sexy, who are Nigel’s people supposed to be?

  2. John Boy,Carson,Ca says:

    Just like America the true Americans are the native(Indians)We took this land from these people.

  3. FYI says:

    FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN OBSERVING THIS SITUATION FROM THE BEGINNING. RECALL WHEN BGYEA FIRST WENT OUT TO MILE 41 WITH THE PERSONNEL FROM MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES. AN INVENTORY OF ALL THE IMMIGRANT SETTLERS WAS DONE. THEY WALKED THE ENTIRE AREA AND THERE WAS A TOTAL OF 37 FAMILIES OUT THERE. THEIR NAMES WERE TAKEN DOWN AND THEIR RIGHTS WERE RESPECTED. ONE YEAR LATER THEY ARE NOW CLAIMING THAT IT IS WAS 300 OF THEM THAT HAD SETTLED THE LAND. WHERE DID 263 OF THEM MIRACULOUSLY APPEAR FROM OR BETTER YET WHERE AND WHY WERE THEY HIDING? ADDITIONALLY, THE MAJORITY OF THAT LAND WAS PURE BUSH A YEAR AGO. THEY ARE ONLY NOW STARTING TO CLEAN ACRES SO THAT THEY CAN CLAIM IT. WHY DO YOU THINK THEY KEPT THEIR MOUTHS SHUT FOR A YEAR? THEY ARE LYING AND PLAYING THE PITY GAME AND SOME PEOPLE ARE FALLING FOR IT.. BUT THANK GOD THAT NOT ALL BELIZEANS ARE STUPID! ITS TIME TO STAND UP FOR OUR RIGHTS AS BELIZEANS. THEY CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN HERE 10 YEARS WELL I HAVE BEEN HERE 32 YEARS AND I REFUSE TO SIT BACK AND SEE BELIZEANS LOSE OUT ON WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY OURS!!!!!!

  4. javier says:

    ONLY IN BELIZE. i DON’T BLAME THESE PEOPLE. i BLAME OURSELVES TO ALLOW OUR POLITICIANS TO SELL US OUT TO EVERY OTHER NATIONALITY THAT THEY CAN GET TO VOTE FOR THEM. THESE POLITICIANS ARE THE GREATEST TREAT TO OUR SOVEREIGNTY. IT IS TIME FOR OUR PEOPLE TO WAKE UP AND CHANGE THE SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS THESE PARASITE POLITICIANS TO CONTINUE BETRAY US.
    I AM OF HISPANIC DECENT BORN AND RAISE MY ENTIRE 42YRS IN THIS COUNTRY. I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH OTHER NATIONALITY COMING TO LIVE IN MY COUNTRY CAUSE BELIZEANS ARE LIVING IN OTHER COUNTRY, BUT AS I EXPLAIN TO MY WIFE (WHO WAS BORN IN SALVADOR) THAT THOSE WHO COME AND CHOOSE TO LIVE HERE SHOULD RESPECT OUR PEOPLE, OUR CULTURE, OUR LAW ETC. BEING A BELIZEAN MEANS THAT U LOVE BELIZE. ITS A HEART THING. SO ITS REALLY DOESN’T MATTER WEATHER U WERE BORN HERE OR NOT. IT IS EITHER U LOVE THE COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE OR NOT.
    AN INTERVIEWER SAID TO BRUCE LEE “SO YOU’RE AN ACTOR WHO IS A MARTIAL ARTIST.” BRUCE REPLY TO HIM” NO. I’M A MARTIAL ARTIS WHO IS AN ACTOR. I’M A MARTIAL ARTIST 1ST, CAUSE THATS WHO I AM.” SAD TO SAY THERE ARE MANY “BELIZEANS” WHO ARE POLITICIANS/BUSINESS MEN 1ST.
    SO TO ALL THOSE WHO ASPIRE TO BECOME LEADER. ASK YOUR SELF ” AM I A POLITICIAN WHO IS A BELIZEAN, OR A BELIZEAN WHO IS A POLITICIAN”

  5. BZNinCALI says:

    Thanks FYI & Javier. I view the people who cleared the land pretty much like the crack heads who run up to my car with a squeegy & are told not to touch my car because I won’t pay but they choose to wash my windshield anyway. We owe them nothing. If 37 of them were there last year, they are the only ones who should be considered & they cannot dictate how much land they receive. Give them an acre & charge them market rate for what we feel they deserve & make sure easements, water rights & everything necessary for viable community is preserved so that we do not get into a cat & mouse game with these people & whomever is advising them & while we are at it, make sure they are Belizeans.

  6. Leon Leon says:

    Wake up BELIZE. First of all, the Blz government decided to give LAND (is this really true? or do these people pay for the 1 acre of land?) to these Hispanic from across the borders? Is Belize digging a grave for itself by allowing enemies – you know who you are, to come in and settle on the land they have CLAIMED to belong to them? The Minister of State, Ramon Witz, is this really true he has power to give Belizean land away? How can Nigel Petillo say, “I have told all of you already that as long as you are here and you have your places developed here, you have wah piece of land fi get hay just like every other Belizean wah get wah one acre piece as well.” Nigel must have been given permission by someone to say that. Those are powerful statements.
    I was told that a village by the name of Maskall in the Belize District, has been flooded with Hispanic immigrants. They have such a saturated settlement in Maskall Village, they call it “Spanish Town”. I wonder if the Belizean map now shows this settlement behind Maskall Village? WHAT is happening in BELIZE? What kind of government do the Belizeans have to protect their country? Soon Maskall Village will have these immigrants running the village, and Spanish will be the officaial language. The majority of children attending the school are of the immigrant settlers in that village. Channel 5, you should go visit and see for yourself. Report back to the people what you will find regarding this settlement.
    THIS IS A SHOUT OUT TO THE MINISTERS OF THE BELIZEAN GOVERNMENT – DO NOT CONTINUE TO FLOOD BELIZE WITH PEOPLE WHO CLAIM THAT BELIZE IS THEIR TERRITORY. In which direction are you taking this country?????? I HOPE ALL CONCERNED BELIZEANS WHO READ THIS – WILL COMMENT ON THIS DISTURBING STORY.
    It is difficult for BELIZEANS TO GET LAND, YET THE SQUATTERS, SLIDE IN ONE BY ONE, AND CAN GET BELIZEAN LAND…………..IS THIS WHAT IS MEANT BY “LAND OF THE FREE? It did not say “LAND FOR FREE!” BELIZEANS LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    People of hispanic or latin origin I have nothing against you. This is all about the rights of Belizeans – Belizeans being taken advantage of in their own land.
    Ask yourself, can a Belizean go to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica etc and demand rights to land????????????????????????

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