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Nov 9, 2011

GOB takes farm land for redistribution

There’s a volatile situation brewing in the north where hundreds of acres of cane fields are under threat. Since Monday, surveyors have been in the San Juan area where cane fields, up to four feet high and ready for harvesting, are being slashed to the ground. Government, it is claimed, will be building a road and re-distributing the farmers’ land without their consent and in some instances, compensation. For background on this developing story, we start with a promise from the Prime Minister on Independence Day. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“We have also secured, by way of an amicable arrangement with a company called Belize Distills, another parcel of land enough to give one thousand house lots to Belizeans in the Orange Walk district. We will now turn to each of the other Districts and will acquire whatever is needed to continue addressing, in a sharply accelerated way, the cry of our people for land.”

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

When Prime Minister articulated those words in his Independence Day speech, the caneros in San Juan Village in the Orange Walk District say they didn’t know that their livelihood would’ve also been taken away.  According to residents, in the past couple of days, GOB has seized their land they have been farming on. Huge acres of cane fields are under the first phase of development. The slashing of sugar fields has commenced, which translates to a loss of income to the caneros:

Adrian Mendez, Cane Farmer

“What is really affecting us at this time nuh is the way the land is being taken away from us. I think that government supposed to be very responsible to come and talk to the people, face the people, advice us or tell us well, you have so much time to harvest this land or next time or so much time you have or when we come back you supposed to done vacate. Or not to make no investment inna the land because the investment we do government nuh subsidize we fi nothing. My piece that was affected is from my sweat. I nuh get no money from no one just from my pocket to the cane field and fi mek it be destroyed like that in that fashion.”

Andrea Polanco

“So you’re supposed to be harvesting in a couple of days but all your crops destroyed?”

Adrian Mendez

Adrian Mendez

“I have about two acres that I have in product that I suppose to reap this coming crop. I suppose about roughly sixty tons of new cane, not a second cut, new cane and I am losing big money, money that I put out there and I will not get nothing outta it.”

Andrea Polanco

“What would you estimate your loss to be?”

Adrian Mendez

“At the cane price as how it is given this season is roughly three to four thousand dollars gone.”

Andrea Polanco

“So how will you make up for that?”

Adrian Mendez

“That is very hard fi mek I answer to you. How I wah mek up fi that if what I put there is the last I have? Because resources I nuh have.”

Jorge Briceño

The land being cleared out, from all accounts in the community, will be for redistribution as house lots and community projects. According to the P.U.P. Orange Walk North Standard Bearer, Jorge Briceno some eight hundred lots will be distributed out, affecting numerous farmers:

Jorge Briceño, P.U.P. Standard Bearer, Orange Walk North

“I was told and I was shown and maybe the government can justify this but I was told that they will put a building in the lowest part of this land and as you can see this land has wide hills here and they are going to put it where the they will spend tons of money because they have to fill because the water reaches up to about chest height.”

Andrea Polanco

“And Mr. Briceno, I think one of the things to note is that this area belong to a number of different farmers, it isn’t just one farmer being affected here?”

Jorge Briceño

“Yes, these are hundreds, I think approximately two or three hundred people are being affected like this. As far as I know about the lots there, there are about eight hundred lots being given so it’s a lot of people gonna be affected. He’s talking about building a new village here with schools and streets and lights and new infrastructure and he can’t even maintain the infrastructures that we have right now.”

Isabel Cardenas has been farming cane here for eight years. Today his one point five acres of cane lay flat on the ground. Cardenas says that he was approached with an ultimatum for his land, which he accepted, but in retrospect this canero says he got a bad deal:

Isabel Cardenas

Isabel Cardenas, Cane Farmer

“Mr. Aragon is from NEMO and he says the Government buy this from Petro Jam, so he says this is for the Government. And he offer me many times, the last time he come he tell me that this is the last time he coming and if the Government want he will pay me something and if the Government want they will not pay me nothing so at the last moment I nuh mi got no more what to do nuh so he offered me two thousand.”

Andrea Polanco

“So, give us the value of your crops destroyed here?”

Isabel Cardenas

“Well this year they pay seventy two a ton so I used to take out fifty tons here so that is about three thousand five hundred.”

Andrea Polanco

“So that is just one crop because you’re expecting more crops. Approximately how many?”

Isabel Cardenas

“Yes, this cane field can give about six crops more.”

Andrea Polanco

“So where do you go from here Mr. Cardenas? What do you do next?”

Isabel Cardenas

“Well, I have to go speak with an evaluator because I am not content with that two thousand nuh suh I weh continue.”

Briceno says that government action’s is a serious blow to the sugar industry at a critical juncture:

Jorge Briceño

“This is hard work, hard labour and I think that having the Deputy Prime Minister and the Acting Prime Minister right now of this area, he should be out here, talking to these people, trying to settle with them, negotiating with them, and trying to give them a fair deal so that they can continue working and living and trying to save the industry.”

Andrea Polanco

“If all of these should be destroyed, this of course would amount to thousands of dollars?”

Jorge Briceno

“Yes, you’re talking of at least ten thousand tons of sugar cane here. That’s a lot of  sugar cane fields gonna be destroyed here with an industry that really, really needs every single ton of cane, every stick of cane we need in this industry to try to help B.S.I. to stay in Belizean hands and save the industry for the cane farmers of Orange Walk.”

Andrea Polanco

“Okay and these of course are crops that are to be harvested by the end of this month?”

Jorge Briceno

“Yes, by December most of this crop is ready to go to into for production at the sugar factory to turn into sugar and they’re not even gonna get the opportunity as you can see here to do that. We’ve been told that the government has instructed the GSU to be out here, because we have seen them here so they have to get an order from somebody to be here and they are going to be coming out with machinery to open roads. You open road, you destroy crop.”

And according to accounts from farmers since Monday the surveying has commenced on the land. We tried to get a closer look at the other fields, but were prevented by armed forces identified as the ADU along with the police. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Briceño says that going forward the caneros are considering a peaceful protest and legal action.

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20 Responses for “GOB takes farm land for redistribution”

  1. Charlie Price says:

    IS THIS THE UP-SHOT OF THE 9th Amendment ?????

  2. Bulba Martinez says:

    For some of those who supported the 9th. Amendment, unu luk out to. Dictatorship has legally taken over. People, we shall now learn the transalation and rammification of the 9th. Amendment that was shoved down our throats. Dis da noting yet!!!!.

  3. bzn2dabone says:

    Do these cañeros have title or lease to these lands? Cuz as far as I’m concerned, the land belonged to someone else. Like the saying goes, if you plant in strange lands, you lose everything, even the seed.

  4. truth says:

    What is this..Dictatorship to the core. what is in the world is wrong with US Belizeans when are we to wake up. Till it knocks on all our doors at once. when we get dragged out of our house. WHEN..

    For crying out loud man. The government is there to take care of what is ours ” All of Belize” not to push us around and micromanage us and especially not to bully us. How long will this have to happen till we get up against as humans not as a political group .

    This is toooooo much bs ..

  5. Paul Atherley J P. says:

    Do unto others…would gapi vega or dean barrow accept the 1/6 of a years income for the accumulation of a years work as total compensation for all their assets, a life time of sweat and toil.
    Before the election voters were warned of borrow’s mean spiritedness…look no further, this man walks over the citizens of Belize as if they were totally insignificant…his only contribution to the country is to change the laws of the country…spend his time and energy racking up huge legal bills, from which his immediate family is living the high life.
    Where is the same effort to create the JOBS jobs jobs.

  6. Aha says:

    No Man..No Man….!!!!

    Any fool would realize that this is one of the most stupid act by the UDP administration. Why take away land from these hard working poor farmers? They are working the land and this is what Belize needs. Why are you UDP so STUPID???? But I know…its cheaper to work on developed land and I believe this set of people in San Juan are the most calm cane farmers.

    There is so many land that is not being developed through out Belize and is owned by the so called rich people. Look at the same Ministers…they have so many land. Take it away and give it to the hard working people.

    This is one of the most lame, stupid, mediocre government I have ever seen.

  7. Me says:

    ………
    Barrow need to be taken out now and then yes procced with quitar quitar his assets which all of the majority have been stolen from the people. NOw or never the people most open and make despots flee this land. this is only the tip of the iceberg of the 9 amendment, this is tirany this is oppresion this is a violation of our rights, belize is a free nation where free people walk, lets make it free now before we are tied any more.

  8. ivan cal says:

    Hmmmm,WELL THE PEOPLE ELECTED A DICTATOR GOVT’ NOW HE HAS ALL D POWER HE WANTS,AND WE CANNOT DO anything now…….the same way he sent the armed forces to shoot at the cane farmers when they protested against the core sampler at BSI,we stilllllllllll cannot forget this heartless dictator dean barrow,and he said it on national radio stations..” IF I HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN I WILL DO IT AGAIN ,THAT IS NOT MY INDUSTRY !! I REPEAT THAT IS NOT MY INDUSTRY!!! meaning about the cane farmers….THOSE WERE WORDS RECORDED BY D MEDIA,THAT DICTATOR DEAN BARROW said.so what more can we expect from him?

  9. sofia says:

    TAKING AWAY LADN FROM HARDWORKING FARMERS IS A DUMB IDEA WITH WHOEVER POLITICAL PARTY IS IN POWER. THE ONLY HARDWORKING FARMERS I KNOW ARE THE ONES UP NORTH. IF YOU WORK THE LAND AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE ECONOMY AND THE BELIZEAN PEOPLE WHY ON EARTH WOULD SOMEONE DO THAT. IF HE HAD COMPASSION FOR THE GANGS THAT KILL AND MURDER CANT HE HAVE COMPASSION FOR SIMPLE HARDWORKING FARMERS. THIS SHOULD BE AN INSULT FOR ALL PEOPLE IN THE NORTH

  10. BELIZE first. says:

    PLZ people we cannot continue to tolerate dis dean barrow govt’ to get away whit so much bss,its time we standup and fight for our country,Belize is for us Belizeans, no dictator will come take away our lands that the Father of our nation George Price gave us,I no understan the govt’ if guatemalans can come ina belize and destroy our national/protected forests and get away with it ,why do the govt’ no do anything about it,and now that the poor people and cane farmers have worked so hard to maintain their piece of land they {DEAN BARROW AND THE UDP} just come and do lone !@$$$$$$$,just fi victimise d people de,HMMMM MEIN THIS UDP ONLY D INSTIGATE MORE CRIME.’

  11. CEO says:

    How many more stupid moves will the PM make?

    You just could not wait for the guys to harvest their crop? You may need their votes next year!

  12. Diehardbelizean says:

    There are some of the same cane farmers who were paid by Gapi to go and support the 9th Amendment… and THEY supported the 9th…so???? However, what this dictatorial government is doing was expected…people knew … Barrow told everyone live and direct “when we campaign we campaign in poetry…” that means pretty words but empty promises. It is really unfair to these poor farmers. they are being robbed of their land by the same gov. who said will work for everyone.
    But… just watch out for the coming Town Board elections… but also watch out for the $$$$$$$$$ that will be pouring from the red coffers. People will be LIED to again. Wake up Nortenos. ..let your voices be heard.

  13. Rod says:

    Revolucion in the making

  14. belizeanpride says:

    this is the beginning of the atrocities barrow is starting to show to our belizean people.
    are we getting the idea what he is capable now?
    is this the pm that works for the poor cane farmers that work hard to bring the economy in sugar production?

  15. Earl Grey says:

    TIME TO ……….OCCUPY BELMOPAN….again!!!

    THIS TIME THE FARMERS NEED TO BRING THEIR TRUCKS and TRACTORS and “OCCUPY BELMOPAN”.

  16. CONSTABLE says:

    well Belize, “you make the bed you sleep in it.” See if u neva hard head u neva mi wah get this, but no “red or blue”. Use unu head rather than hav somebody wipe yu @$$ fu yu. No worry unu hav more comin. Unu kno long time barro no ready but unu still giv a the chance fu !@#$ unu again, even wit all unu pants on. No worry unu hav mo comin. I no even call dis the tip. My People Think Before You Act, Climb The Tree But Keep Off The Old Hallow Branches especially if it has sharp splinters like Barrow.

  17. jose says:

    A no sorry fu unu at all. But da so unu want it. mek u bed u sleep ina it. No worry unu hav mor coming. Not even the tip of the berg yet. Use unu head atleast once in a while. Country people unu born and grow dey, unu must kno by now wat fu xpect, but I kno u hav to be RED or BLUE, dah so ih go. You get !@#$ again wit all unu clothes on. now mek sure unu wash unu han befor unu eat or else unu no wah eat again.

  18. kat says:

    Why would take land from framers then give it to another person so they can build house. that is like taking my house and giving to my neighbor. thats crazy. government should not being doing something so ridiculous.

  19. S@GVILLE says:

    Haha..now they are feeling the fire of the goverment and the 9th amendment.Well they deserve what is happening to them because they are the same people going to shout that they support the 9th amendment.I am sorry for a the country because Dean will be like a vacuum and suck up everything that people has worked their whole life for.WATCH OUT SPEEDNET(SMART) THEY ARE COMING FOR YOU NEXT!!!

  20. The Son of a Cane Farmer says:

    First of all, BSI is a dying industry. BSI doesnt need cane to export, BSI needs a country to buy our cane. Why do you think that BSI is always going bankrupt? Secondly, these cane farmers dont even own this land, they can plant elsewhere or work on different fields.

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