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Jul 4, 2012

More Tomorrow villagers will keep some disputed land

On Tuesday night, we showed you the plot of land under dispute in the western village of More Tomorrow. The issue is one that dates back to 1998 when the land was acquired by government for agricultural development under the then U.D.P. administration of Manuel Esquivel. The acquisition was published in the gazette and two thousand five hundred acres was secured. But, since then the village has been fighting to secure the last one thousand acres after a foreign developer laid claim to seven hundred acres of that amount. Villagers say that after the land was acquired by government, its previous owner sold the land to this new developer. The farmers of the village say that they want what is rightfully theirs, the entire one thousand acres. But Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that while arrangements are being made to rectify this land battle, he doesn’t believe all these demands will be satisfied. Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Residents in More Tomorrow Village continue to be up in arms over a parcel of land that the government had given them to develop. Michael Flowers says that many farmers will be displaced.

 

Michael Flowers

Michael Flowers, Resident, More Tomorrow

“We are talking about, the Government; More Tomorrow had been promised three thousand five hundred acres of land from the Government. More Tomorrow received five hundred acres so far. There is one thousand acres of land pending. This is the portion of land that is in dispute at this moment.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now how many farmers; residents of More Tomorrow own portions of that land?”

 

Michael Flowers

“I would estimate between thirty and fifty farmers.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, from what I understand it’s only about seven or eight of them who will be able to get back?”

 

Michael Flowers

“That’s the last position that the Lands Commissioner was relaying to us, which is a shocker to us because about two months ago, in the presence of the Minister himself, Minister Vega, we might not be able to give you the thousand but we might be able to give you a certain block which encompasses the entire area that’s being developed by the farmers or most of the areas because there are farmers who have been farming out of that block.”

 

 

And that acreage is a few hundred short of a thousand which the farmers are expecting:

 

Michael Flowers

“That block consists of seven hundred and one acres; with two hundred and ninety nine acres pending. Those farmers who are out of that boundary say they are not going to move because the original agreement is for us to get our thousand acres. Even Mr. Vallejos and the area representative at that time, six months ago, came and told the entire village and villagers that those land you’re on, it’s for you, they are yours and you’re going to receive permission to survey and receive your title for it. Just about six months in December of last year, that’s what we expect; we expect to get our thousand acres of land and nothing less. It is not something that we just went and squat on or start chopping and developing a piece, no, it did not happen that way.”

 

As a resident and farmer with property at stake in More Tomorrow, Flowers says that this land issue can spiral into a more serious issue if it isn’t addressed:

 

Michael Flowers

“It will if the government doesn’t intervenes and deal with it fairly and justly. This is simply because Mr. Martin has already started bulldozing down the land and the villagers have no intentions for him to continue and they are going to stop him one way or the other and we don’t want that to happen.”

 

And it might not happen, as Flowers was informed that a decision had been made but the details are to follow in the upcoming days. Prime Minister Dean Barrow commented on the issue:

 

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“Government is prepared to acquire so much as seven hundred acres owned by I understand, an Indian national by which the More Tomorrow villagers are located. The details are going to be trick to work out because there appears to be some discrepancy between the two sides; that is, the owner of the land is saying that the extent of the acreage on which the villagers are located is so much and the villagers are saying it is so much more. This survey will be done using some people in Panama, the GIS survey, so that we can have some extent really of what has been cultivated and follow up by going on the ground. They want that by going on the ground to be accompanied by elders or leaders of the village. They want to have a meeting before hand to explain that while the idea is to satisfy everybody who is cultivating on a parcel in that area, you might not end up getting the parcel on which your cultivation is presently based; we will have to compensate you in the event you have to move but the land owner will have to be left with a sufficient acreage that is contiguous so that he can develop his place. So there’s going to be some bumps along the way.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, as a resident of the area and you have of course, property at stake; you guys would hope that you guys would be given back the one thousand acres?

 

Michael Flowers

“Yes, that is our goal. Our goal is to get what we deserved; what was promised; what we are entitled to; our thousand acres. That’s all we want, we don’t want anything less or anything more.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


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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8 Responses for “More Tomorrow villagers will keep some disputed land”

  1. Jr says:

    I’m sorry to say that these villagers not going to end up with the land they deserve thanks to the government who don’t give a damn about belizean and only about themselves and the foreign investor.

  2. Lucas says:

    “…They are going to stop him one way or the other and we do not want that to happen”. This is a very volatile situation. If the people of More Tomorrow are indeed serious they better start organizing and arming themselves because the govt. will send not only the police but GSU and the BDF. If you do not believe me, ask the people of Douglas. I wish we could help but why should we rescue the people from their political decision. You guys put those rascals in Belmopan, you guys kick them out.

  3. Elgin Martinez says:

    This PM has no respect to the Citizens of the Jewel.You’re already paying the Gang members with the hard working Belizean tax dollars.Now you’re depriving these people of land they’ve developed to accommodate a foreigner shame on you.Give these people their land.

  4. rebel says:

    this present government is making too much mistakes……….land is sacred and it should be for belizeans no but or ifs about it…. not naturalized belizeans born damn belizeans don;t have a piece of land they can call there own….maybe u do not lend novelo 30 million or intelco 10 or 15 million but taking away land from the people is just as bad. wise up government the people who put u there are not happy….5 years is 5 years.sell and thief as much we need a serious third party in this country….
    pup is just as bad but we stuck with only 2 party in this country. what a shame.

  5. alley cat says:

    In my opinion the real problem is the judiciary scheduling and hearing these matters in a timely fashion. These land disputes need to be addressed in a timely manner, as a land owner if someone states a claim to my land I then need to spend money and hire an attorney and file an action against that person. We have really good laws in belize enforcing it is where we run into trouble. A minister under PUP cut up some of my land and gave it out to innocent people (illegally in my opinion) and I now have to go fight this in court and spend money etc… Plus deal with all the bad-blood from the innocent people who now feel they are getting chance. This stuff happens under both parties, we need a better land registration system which is in the process of being instituted and the courts need to resolve these matters quickly. It takes years before you case is called up in some cases.

  6. Storm says:

    First thing a competent GOB will do is to hire someone to fix the broken land title registration system in the Jewel. There is no way it should be possible to have the same land conveyed to different people, because there should be a central, secure, and credible means of recording title. The earlier recorded deed wins, period.

    We have NEVER had such a system, and it seems that each successive GOB wants to keep it broken, so that land can be sprinkled to friends and supporters like candy from a pinata.

    But if they don’t want to do the right thing and fix the real problem that affects title throughout the nation, then maybe they can find other government land to throw into the mix and find a compromise where, for this crisis, the problem is patched over. There certainly is a lot of unused land in the Jewel, and nothing so uniquely fabulous about this acreage that it can’t be swapped somehow.

  7. Tarasbulba says:

    I totally agree with you guys but unfortunately, there are many more cases in the south where titles has been issued to more than one person for a land, among other things. As incompetent as GOB is, we also need to point fingers at some of the Public Servants who are responsible for making entrys into the Lands Department Index Files prior to reaching our so called Higher Ups within the Ministry, which could have avoided these stupid mistakes or let the public know exactly who are responsible for such bs. Too late for us to even think that our government is helpful to us in any way, fashion, or form because it’s quite obvious to other nations that we have lost our democracy and the respecct of our government. It was just another promise Michael, “A comfort for fools” as how we all are looked upon. The voices of the people have been heard when these idiots were re-elected and sad to say, morre is yet to come. Look out, “NEXT”!!

  8. Storm says:

    Tarasbulba — first, that’s a way cool handle.

    Second, don’t you think the buck stops with the PM for all the corrupt people employed in ALL government agencies and offices?

    You’re right, also, that Belizean land titles aren’t worth the powder to blow them to Hell from south to north, west to east. That’s why I think we need an honest outsider to design a foolproof system — they have them in most other countries. But there’s a reason GOB doesn’t want a system that can secure title, so they can play profitable games with other people’s property.

    AND SUBMITTING FALSE TITLE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A MAJOR CRIME, WITH MANDATORY PRISON TIME. By the way, isn’t the dirty Justice of the Peace down south still on the job, the one who authenticates phony signatures?

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