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Feb 26, 2013

Squatters clear land and face resistance

While a protest was taking place in Belmopan over unjust land distribution, not far away in Blackman Eddy, residents took the bull by the horn. They literally took over a plot of land designated years ago for village expansion and began clearing it after being given the run around by the Ministry of Natural Resources. News Five Isani Cayetano has the story.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

In Black Man Eddy this morning, a group of about a hundred and fifty men and women took matters into their own hands.  Unsatisfied with the sluggishness at the Lands Department they decided to cut and clear a sizeable tract of land for habitation.  Fully aware that squatting is illegal they contend that it has become necessary since they have been repeatedly given the runaround in Belmopan.

 

Ronnie White, Villager, Black Man Eddy

Ronnie White

“Dis mawnin wi decide that people’s power, in the sense that we need, we deserve a piece of land.  You go to the Lands Department fu wa piece a land dehn tun yoh round, tun yoh round, tun yoh round, yoh spend more than yoh get.  Yo probably end up wid three or five years without get the land, right.  People’s power decide that hyah what wi ahn cohn together as wah community, as villagers, Spanish, Garifuna, ih noh matter da weh color, yoh da wahn Belize, yoh eighteen [years-old], yoh deserve wahn piece ah land, yoh cyant get it, yoh need fu stand up and come out dah dis place ya weh mi get prepared fi long by di past chairladies weh some kinda back and forth that ih neva come to fruition.”

 

And so, to make it a reality they converged on an eighty-parcel block and began defining it, albeit unlawfully, in the name of village expansion.  In the center of it all is the candidate for the upcoming village council elections.

 

Shirlene Mai-White

Shirlene Mai-White, Village Chairperson Candidate

“I am running for the chairperson in Black Man Eddy, but ah noh wahn mek dehn use dis as because ah di run ah di follow what dehn people dih seh because ah wahn win.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“But it could be a logical conclusion.”

 

Shirlene Mai-White

“Yes, but then people yer dat I di run fi di chairperson and people approach me and dehn seh dehn desperately in need ah land.  So I took into consideration and seh I noh have no land.  Me, myself personally, forty-two years-old, born-Belizean don’t have a land so I told them and sehe a piece to the back where lotta bush deh, if unu wahn ah could show unu di land and sih weh unu wahn do from deh.”

 

Kevin Gordon

What they did do was circumvent the application process entirely.  Armed with machetes they chopped out a significant portion of trees.  Among them was Kevin Gordon.

 

Kevin Gordon, Villager, Black Man Eddy

“I kinda feel good personally fu di out wid everybody so yoh know, I sih di best turnout.  Dehn have wah couple weh seh dah people weh di try instigate sohn kinda thing due to weh I undastand di election deh pan di way fu chairmanship and everything.  Fu my thought and how I explain to my boys dehn dat ih only wah be, dat wah be fu one day.  Fi go vote fi who wah be wah chairman dat da only fu one day, yo undastand mi but if yo come out and gradually yo geh wah piece a land because truly we noh really know if we ah get it, yo undastand mi but we di anticipate and we deh een ya and we di clean down and mark up so if down di road things fix up dehn yoh done know more or less okay bwai I mi di try work up pan da piece a land deh right.”

 

While they proceed to cut and clear what is understood to be Crown land, it can be argued that what the village chairperson candidate has done is tantamount to electioneering.

 

Shirlene Mai-White

“As I could recall politics da wah nasty game and di best player win, that da all I gat fi seh.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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4 Responses for “Squatters clear land and face resistance”

  1. Retired CEO says:

    This land problem is not new, it goes back to the days of the PUP to the currently ruling party. They push citizens around like cunnu-munnu. The time has come for the people to act. Enough is enough. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!

  2. Belizean Pride says:

    I don’t blame them but applaud their bravery this lands department things has been going on for yrs like this. try do it legally going there and apply they turn you around like spinning bottle. So if that’s the only way, well go ahead my Belizean people doesn’t matter which gov is in place once you’re 18 you deserve a piece of the JEWEL. MANY TIMES POLITICAL CRONIES BENEFIT MORE THAN WE REGULAR BELIZEANS. PEOPLE POWER 2013

  3. Tina says:

    Government will appreciate getting the land cleared for free no where else in the world does free land come with birth right.

  4. Bear says:

    Is this the beginning of a People Power movement that could rock the nation? We need that, but the problems that need solving are a lot bigger and deeper than just some land for expansion.

    Every protest is a step toward a peaceful revolution, but the different villages and groups need to coordinate and work with each other, and share ideas. There is strength in numbers.

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