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Mar 22, 2011

Harmonyville Organizer, Nigel ‘BGYEA’ Petillo detained by police

While Danalyn Murillo ran into trouble with police in Belize City, in the nation’s capital another community activist had his own woes, also with the cops. Nigel Petillo became a household name when he emerged as the leader of the NGO, Belize Grass Roots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA) that has been championing the cause of hundreds of Belize who wants land at the western community called Harmonyville. The community project has run into trouble because Hispanic squatters and representatives of BGYEA have had physical confrontations. One side is allegedly making threats, and the other is being accused of destroying property at Harmonyville.  Today, President of BGYEA, Nigel Petillo, was detained by Belmopan police following complaints by the squatters that either he or representatives of his association destroyed their crops.  But Petillo maintains he did nothing wrong and he accuses the squatters of attacking BGYEA’s representatives.

Via Phone: Nigel Petillo, Detained by Police

Nigel Petillo

“I visited the Police Department to meet along with Mister Henderson and Mister Gentle to discuss issues at Harmonyville only to find out that I was being detained. I asked the officer what is it I was being detained for and he explained to me that they have charges for me [for] damage to property. I explained to the officer that I’ve been authorize by the Government of Belize to survey thirteen hundred acres of land out at mile forty-one well known as Harmonyville. I do not believe that anybody have any papers out deh fi even fi come tell ‘bout the property out there any at all. Eventually it turned out that the officers released me saying that they will investigate the matter and get back to me. This is the second time this has happened. Last week I visited the Police Department to report an issue of assault and threat out of Harmonyville to our team to just to find that I was being detained as well on the same charges again and released with the same excuse again that they need to investigate the matter.

The Lands Department has visited the area and informed the settlers that we have been authorized to survey and it means that at times we will have to enter different areas and even at times clear trees or fence in the way for us to do a proper survey.   I was held up by an individual at Harmonyville with a gun and told that if I return to Harmonyville on that said piece of land, I would be killed. That individual did that to me about two times with a gun and one time verbally in the presence of witness. I reported that incident the first time to the police station. They went they picked up the individual with his firearm and an hour later, they dismissed him; they send ahn home. Second time ih happen, we went to the station, the police explained to him and it was left that way. The third time, I had the police support then where they detained the individual, they charged him, they went to the court and because I noh want make the situation escalate Marion, I asked the judge and the lawyer and the prosecution to explain the situation, the authority given to us and that if he would cooperate and work with us, I would drop the charge because I don’t want it to escalate.

We are concerned for our lives. I am pretty much more concerned for the lives of those who are out there every day. Honestly I have a job, I work eight to five in Belmopan, but there is a team of about twenty-two working out there every day. And they are not necessarily all at one spot at the same time—most of the time they are broken up in groups of twos and threes. With the different threats, it’s many time now Marion, it’s not only us. Also members who are trying to work on their land, who have identified a piece of land, who have been investing on their land have been faced with threats as well Marion. We are scared and not only about the threats, but we are scared that we might find ourselves in a situation where defending ourselves can turn out that we end up being criminals.”

BGYEA will meet with Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega, at Harmonyville on Wednesday morning to try and resolve the conflict over the land.

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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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20 Responses for “Harmonyville Organizer, Nigel ‘BGYEA’ Petillo detained by police”

  1. BZNinCALI says:

    The squatters who are not Belizean citizens need to be removed & deported to their country or find a piece of land they can purchase at market rate. Unless the others can show clearly that they have lived on & worked the land for more than five years prior to the start of BGYEA’s action, they should be removed. Belize is violent enough as it is & having anyone use a gun to resist an order or deny someone permission to do something they are legally allowed to do should not be taken lightly. Allowing this person to stay sets a precedent & I would hate to see Harmonyville become Dodge City.

  2. Disgusted! says:

    How in the name of Cyprus. B. Bilgewater did this con artist end up being the minister of lands???????????? Who elected him into office?????? Why is this B@$%ARD being given so much power and authority????? What will it take for the DOGS in government who were duly elected to deal with the issues of the people, to intervene before this chancy S.O.B. and his thugs really incur the wrath of these poor hispanic people who practically built that community after years of blood, sweat and tears??? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

  3. Elgin Martinez says:

    Please start doing background check on these people?Belizeans first.

  4. leah says:

    @ disgusted .. who are you to state that the hispanic should take that land… are you God???? while mr petillo is trying to work for others .. who are youto say to what should be done… I am totally disgusted @ you this is my country and i have a right to piece of land … unfortunately for us we cannot squat because we try obey the laws,,, but who are these hispanic to come and squat and have right to fight for our jewel .. our land … our birthright i should say .. it happens time and time again… if i go and squat in guatemala , mexico, el salvador or any of the neighboring central american country believe me you i bet i would not be alive today . what makes them special over me and you if you are a belizean citizen trying to upkeep the law… Lord Have mercy what is this country coming to …. belizean first Lord God .. I pray for harmonyville and for the government of Belize to do a rightful judgement.. Bless Nigel .. BLess Belize … Your will O Lord Be done… I pray that the Bgyea put you God first in their life… Amen

  5. Janet says:

    Disgusted: I do not agree with your comment, “… these poor hispanic people who practically built that community after years of blood, sweat and tears.” The land is not theirs to begin with. We as Belizeans have such a difficult time to get land in Belize. These people come from different countries and take up hundreds of acres of land and call it their own. There is no way on God’s green earth we could go into another country and do this. Our pastures, crops and houses would be burned to the ground. An acre is an acre I don’t care how much land these people have worked over the years, the land is for Belizeans; at least they will be allowed to keep an acre. We need to start supporting our people. Nigel Petillo is not one of my favourite person but at least the action he took will assist many born Belizeans that found it difficult to acquire a piece of land. What needs to be done is that the Ministry of Natural Resources along with the Ministry of Police go out to Harmonyville and ensure that noone is being taken advantage of who was squatting there already and that the people are informed that one acre of land will be given to them, which means that some of the crops that they have planted will not be theirs anymore. They should be happy that everything is not taken away from them. Also we are always talking about fighting crime I believe that most of these ‘thugs’ as you refer to them will have something to call their own and something to keep them busy; in essence they will not get themselves in a whole heap of trouble. Just my thought.

  6. Storm says:

    To the user “Disgusted!”:

    Who was the person you were referring to as a “con artist”? If it’s the person who granted the BGYEA organisation the right to survey the land where the dispute is currently taking place, then, yes, he must accept some responsibility for the development of this situation, but, that, in and of itself, does not make him a “con-artist”. However, if it’s the person who is at the head of the BGYEA organisation, then, the usage of that term is unwarranted, especially when his organisation was legally granted the right to survey that land.

    And to the rest of the readership:

    What’s going on here are two things; one being whether or not the people who developed the area that Harmonyville is supposed to be constructed on are citizens of Belize or are squatters who came from one of the Central American republics recently and the other being whether or not an amicable agreement can materialise out of this. In regard to the first thing, what must be done, as both BZinCALI and Mr. Martinez have suggested, is to check out the background of these people and remove from that parcel of land those individuals who are there illegally and in regard to the second thing, I believe that an amicable agreement can materialise from this, although, it must be said that it may result in something being imposed arbitrarily by the government and that might incur some anguish for those who are both currently on that parcel of land and are actual Belizean citizens.

  7. Storm says:

    @ Leah: I absolutely agree with the main point of your post.

  8. B groovy says:

    That’s the problem when u prefer to one set of squatters over the other…………Next time the gov. should do there Job instead giving it to some f clown who think he is god………..Welcome to ProblemVille

  9. mickcastillo says:

    There is a sad state of affairs going on with the Police Department that is so pathetic! Their actions are bad publicity for the department and is fodder for those who want to find something to pin on the UDP government! I will hasten to say that there has to be some changes done within the Police Department as they have portrayed themselves to be lacking commonsense, professional integrity and any sense of intelligence! Instead of doing a proper investigation, they will detain these people on a visit to the police station? That seems to indicate that there is some agenda on the officers/people in charge and it seems political. Why? because the arrestees are activists! That does not look good. Do an investigation first and let the chips fall where they may.
    To DISGUSTED, you have a poor sense of logic and am afraid that I may be crediting you with too much! “these poor hispanic people who practically built that community”! Really? You probably need to get from under your rock!

  10. Storm says:

    To B groovy:

    What justification do you have for calling the leader of the BGYEA organisation “some f clown who think he is god”? From what I can see, he has done everything in the legally correct manner and has tried to prevent the escalation of this situation to a unnecessary and dangerous level. Also, from what I can see, this individual hasn’t said anything to make it seem that he thinks of himself as a “god”. Thus, such insults are unwarranted and may end up causing even more trouble in the end because it’s only going to contribute to the aggravation of an already difficult land issue.

  11. rasman says:

    He is the contrabandista

  12. Lucas says:

    I lay this problem at the door of our P.U.D.P. govt. Mr. Witz said something the other day that may well be true. He said that the previous govt. had allowed these squatters settle in this not so Harmonious area. If his statement is correct, who was the minister of lands?. Marin or Johnny boy?. Who was the area representative?. When the U.D.P. took over under MR. QUITER, he QUITER land left and right. He Quiter land in Ranchito, Carmelita and all around Belize but, to whom did he QUITER LAND?. YOU DAMN RIGHT! TO BELIZEANS. BUT HE NEVA QUITER LAND DA HARMONIOUS. If reports are correct, there is still a GUATEMALAN SQUATTER just inside Belizean territory at the border in the vicinity of Benque Viejo but, he never QUITER THAT LAND. Memba the Guatemalan peasant invasion of our country around the year 2000? Well up to now there is still yet Guatemalan squatters in the vicinity of Millionario but MR. QUITER NEVER QUITER THAT LAND EITHER. You know why?. If not, let me tell you. Because our P.U.D.P. GOVT. ARE SCARED !@#$ OF THE GUATEMALANS. THE MENTALITY IS: WE MUST NOT PISS UP GUATEMALA but the more we bend, the more our private parts are exposed. AND, BECAUSE WE ARE NOT A SOVEREIGN NATION. FOREIGN POWERS DICTATE THE TERMS TO OUR GIRLY GOVT. and if the govt. per chance timidly complains, then there is no crumbs which by the way ends up in the pockets of our HONORABLE AND ILLUSTROUS POLITICIANS and all the while, the Belizean people end up at the losing end that is, until we the Belizean people put an end to this madness. Not at the U.N. nor at the O.A.S. nor in a Court but by the force of Arms. ARE WE READY.!!

  13. Disgusted! says:

    Just for the records! I am referring to, and defending the HISPANIC, GRASSROOTS BELIZEANS who were born in BELIZE and make up the diaspora of my BELIZEAN HERITAGE. I am, by no means, condoning or even suggesting that illegal squatters should be left alone to pilfer and rob us of our birthrights as BELIZEANS!!!!! Please understand what you read before you cast aspersions- all of the above. And that’s putting it (NICELY.) The last time I checked my history HISPANICS were one of the ethnicities of BELIZE, or am I living under a !#$ing rock???

  14. No Bias says:

    “And I hope that you are reading the news and comments added” Beware of being Belizean. They’re some traits and personality that is uniquely Belizean, and in its description, uniquely disgusting. With that said brother; beware of the crabs in the barrel, beware of our many personalities that are not disciplined, not organized and never see anything positive through to the end. You are an excellent role model for the black youths firstly and all young people in Belize. This is part of the welcomed and expected change citizens of a growing country should embrace. You should even have supporters whose bread are buttered on both sides, because if positive interjection is not present; Belize will be Land of the Foreigners by the Caribbean Sea.

  15. Concerned says:

    I always have an issue when people start making ethnic references because usually these are intended to be discriminatory. I agree that if you are not a Belizean and you are squatting then you have absolutely no right anything in Belize. On the other hand if there are Belizeans whether by birth or NATURALIZATION, then they are all equal and have every right to land and should be conscientious enough to realize you can’t keep all that land if you’re squatting on and settle for what you get.
    Also, please stop blaming a party after all BOTH of them do the same thing! Whoever accuses UDP or PUP is IGNORANT and BLIND. All GOBs are the same regardless of what party is in power. They only look at you when they want your vote and then they ignore you if you’re not close to them. That is the reality in Belize! All of you who have made reference to “PUDP” need to wake up!!!!

  16. corf says:

    Well..well…before you all start talking about deportation,i suggest you tell that to all your family members living in America illegally.I totally agree with Disgusted. For the most part, locals refuse to move out the crime ridden city but as soon as someone else try to put a roof over the heads of their families,it creates a problem .Everyone have a God given right to survive the best way they know how.May God forgive all you cold hearted people before the world ends.

  17. johny says:

    let me be honrsxt …. we argue an ting… go try squay da guatemela or honduras…trust me… i agree with u >>> u an d government… if u can be pathetic,,,, try sleep………………………

  18. mylegacyb4mypeople says:

    Why don’t the police get off their @$$ and go out to Harmonyville to make sure that the peace is kept? Instead of waiting for after the fact to resolve these problems, I can see trouble brewing if the police don’t handle this situation proactively they know where the problem is so why don’t they just go to it? It is apparent that this situation with these farmers are politically motivated the Barrow administration detest harmony within the people especially if they are not the ones to bring this harmony about therefore there will be no harmony for harmonyville. Remember, My Legacy B 4 My People.

  19. Earl Grey says:

    BELIZEAN SHOULD GO SQUAT IN GUATEMALA or MEXICO……….see what happens!!!!

  20. J.J says:

    EVERYONE should be extremely proud of the developers of Harmonyville for orchestrating such an undertaking, where they have recognize the need for equal and fair land distribution amongst our Belizean brothers and sisters, and effectively execute a plan of action, and pan top get the support of the GOB, BGYEA has come a long way, and has great challenges ahead. The rate at which Harmonyville will become a successful reality depends on the support of all Belizeans. It would be fascinating should the Belizean population continue to positively support each other, instead of bashing each other, we should all know by now the strength and power UNITY holds.

    After reading some of the commentaries here on Channel 5 News, it is evident that majority of the Belizean people are in support of Harmonyville, that is remarkable.

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