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Feb 13, 2013

Ministry speaks about BGYEA’s land issue

On Tuesday the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association, BGYEA, held a press conference condemning the Ministry of Natural Resources for failing to hand over documents to land in Harmonyville. The group claims that for the past eight months they have been trying to get title for parcels located on thirteen hundred acres of land on the Western Highway after they invested nearly half a million dollars in surveys and infrastructure. That is BGYEA’s position, but there are at least two sides to every story, and today freelance reporter Mike Rudon got the official version.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

President of the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association Nigel Petillo has been on the airwaves for the past month heaping criticism on the Ministry of Natural Resources. He says he and his people have been lied to, and have been given the runaround by officials in the Ministry of Natural Resources as they try to get title to land in Harmonyville at Mile forty-one on the Western Highway.


Beverly Castillo

Beverly Castillo, C.E.O., Ministry of Natural Resources

“Yes we do know what is happening. If you recall, Harmonyville was maybe a year or two years—when there was much agitation—they were given concessionary rates, they were given their leases and they were given purchase prices that is for the first phase of Harmonyville. We went to a new land administration program and that had some transitional issues and that was delayed some. We did not put them back; we had to scan all the files and those did not go back immediately. We heard rumors of the files being loss; no truth to that. Since last month, I know that all of those Harmonyville files in the third and the fourth phases were signed by the minister and that is what he is saying, he don’t recall not signing them. They are signed and we’ve issued their leases.”


Nigel Petillo

Nigel Petillo, President, BGYEA [File: February 12th, 2013]

“Waiting for some of our documents took over six months, over eight months, and we are still here waiting for some documents. They misplaced over two hundred to three hundred land documents that were processed where our members were asked to bring necessary documentation such as social security copies, fifteen dollars post office stamps and other recommendation letters from BGYEA that were all sent in as a file per individual. The ministry reported to us that they had misplaced those files.  Where did it break down at the Ministry of Lands? I thought about all that and it boil down to they win a next term.”


Now that’s two really different sides to one story. Petillo has been adamant in his claims and he hasn’t been afraid to make his allegations in the public forum. But C.E.O. Beverly Castillo says he knows all about the good news from the Ministry of Natural Resources.


Beverly Castillo

“Mr. Petillo is aware of that; he knows. We spoke to him, he said yes, but he didn’t get it in the time he wanted. So they are going to go ahead because they need to see other improvements from us. Harmonyville is a specialized case. Processed land titles, leases and purchase prices in mass. Land Folio, the new system, does not allow for us to do the process in one go. We have to put in the leases first, they have to pay for the leases and then we can then go to the purchase price. The purchase price, as far as I am aware, is the only delay as it is right now. All the leases have been issued.”


So BGYEA says the documents are being held up and Castillo says that they are ready. As they say, the proof is in the pudding and that pudding is allegedly baked and good to go.


Beverly Castillo

“Walk in, show an identification and collect your documents.”


Mike Rudon

“There is a payment that needs to be made?”


Beverly Castillo

“Yes the lease would attract either a forty or sixty dollar lease payment and once that is paid, they can move immediately to a purchase price. And recall they were given concessionary rates for a one acre plot. And once the purchase price is fulfilled, then they can move to a title.”


BGYEA announced Tuesday that it plans to hold a protest in Belmopan on January twenty-sixth, and it’s not known at this time if the announcement from the Ministry that all papers are signed will derail that demonstration process. Mike Rudon for News Five.


C.E.O. in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Beverly Castillo, was a guest this morning on the Open Your Eyes morning show. The topic of conversation was the reform in the Ministry aimed at breaking down bureaucracy, confusion and errors which often stalls the processing of land transactions.

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8 Responses for “Ministry speaks about BGYEA’s land issue”

  1. Storm says:

    I’m no fan of the entire Harmonyville situation, or other political handouts of property of any kind. But Petillo is too much an agitator and not enough a statesman to get things done. He only seems to know confrontation and protest. It’s hard to get favors of any kind from people you attack in public. Maybe BGYEA needs more experienced leadership.

  2. New _Soul says:

    Storm, as someone who follows the news, you must know that the Harmonyville agriciultural development was the FURTHEST thing from a political hand out.

    The last time Petillo was in the media, prior to this most recent round of talks, was around late October. How is it a favor to the first time land owners of Harmonyville that they were made to wait months for what could have taken hours?

    What has Petillo been agitating for but land ownership and the opportunity for self sustainance by average Belizeans? For such a noble cause, has he been agitating too much or have the rest of us been agitating too little?

  3. Simone says:

    how do any of them demand rights that they start by breaking the law and becoming squatters? they should remember its a favor they are getting and behave accordingly rather than promote belize city squatting

  4. Wheresyourvoice says:

    New _Soul beautifully said, the govt. is trying to outlast the organization. Once that fails the govt. will no longer be needed.

  5. sickntired says:

    Even though the man di fuss i still have to give him props. Regular black people just no mek no progress inna them own country and all the guatemalans the tek over all the land and thief all the resources. Why we always quarrel with we own people and nobody put attention to the parts of the country where all them illegal sttlements spring up full of guatemalans? This man just trying to open belizean eyes to the fact that we losing our country and we dont even know it. Check out all them communities closer to the west and south full of squatters who no pay not even 1 dollar. Wake up belizeans.

  6. Belizean says:

    I have to agree with sickntired, Belizeans fight down each other too much. Bear in mind, this man is not fighting for land for himself or his own benefit but for the grassroots Belizean people. His efforts should have been embraced by any gov’t who cares about the welfare of its poor ppl (which by the way is more than half of the population) but da like Mr. Vega seh he and his family da nuh ordinary Belizeans like all of us.They are special so they get their land for $ 1.10 per acre, foreigners get theirs for free and after they have illegally settled more than they need then they sell it back to us…if were lucky…..smh…sad but true. Belizean people wake up. I’m not talking to the small minded political @$$ kissers but true Belizeans who love this country…..together we can make a change by demanding from the government which we have “employed” We are paying them to work for us. so we do have the right to demand the best service. I admire Petillo’s patriotism and courage but, most of all I admire his ability to brush off stupid comments by negative and small minded people. He is a true Belizean hero and patriot .

  7. ProudBelizean says:

    Have to agree with sickntired….. Bzeans fight down each other too much. Is it ok for the Minister of lands to publicly state that he and his family are not normal Belizeans… as a result, they can get huge parcels of land for $1.10 per acre? Is it okay for foreigners, including Guatemalans, to squat on huge parcels of land and eventually own it practically for free…..then they rent it or sell it back to Belizeans…..if were lucky. smh….sad but true. What has petillo actually done wrong here? Lets see… he is fighting for the rights of poor Bzean ppl who are over the age of 18 and have never own a piece of land in the country in which they were born. He is demanding that the govt (who the people elected and are paying to serve their best interest and the best interest of Belize). He is demanding that they do their jobs and serve the lower class people of Belize to own a piece of the land in which they were born. i see him as a true Belizean patriot and hero. I personally admire his courage and determination

  8. ProudBelizean says:

    I have to agree with sickntired……Bzeans fight down each other too much….. it is ok for the Minister of lands to publicly state that he and his family are not normal Belizeans… as a result, they can get huge parcels of land for $1.10 per acre? Is it okay for foreigners, including Guatemalans, to squat on huge parcels of land and eventually own it practically for free…..then they rent it or sell it back to Belizeans…..if were lucky. smh….sad but true. Whoever cannot attest to this either have turned a blind eye or don’t care. Now if u dnt care what happens to Belize and Belizeans well thats ur thing
    But please, when a Bzean stands up and start demanding that the Govt, who the Belizean ppl have employed and are paying, do their jobs right and serve its ppl equally don’t stand by and criticize. Especially, if u are one who has turned a blind eye to the current land situation or don’t care. Do what u do best sit down and shut the hell up! What he is doing will benefit u and ur kids in years to come. I am proud of him and his group and all other Bzeans who have decided not to be political @$$ kissers but to demand accountability and transparency from any govt of the day!

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