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Apr 24, 2014

Grassroots organization remains at odds with government

Nigel Petillo

There is also valuable lumber in Harmonyville that Petillo says is being pillaged by villagers living along the George Price Highway. He says that a businessman is offering to build additional roadways within the community in exchange for gaining access to the lumber. But that aside, Petillo says that he is frustrated with the state which still has outstanding land titles and leases for Harmonyville members. And then, there is also the issue of squatters, who keep on developing on buffer lands belonging to the community, despite being offered several acres of land.

 

Nigel Petillo, President, BGYEA

“I don’t understand why the government has been so…I don’t know if they see us as a threat because they’ve been frustrating this organization. I have been back and forth at the lands department, the commissioner you can’t get him again. They gonna have you in some long lines and then they wah tell you that you have to come back because of the amount of people. It is disrespect to the hundreds of people I represent. You supposed to say make we do this in a nice manner. I’ve been requesting that they take a look back at the purchase price agreement. Many people are coming back to my office talking about the government charging them fifteen hundred dollars for their purchase price now; noh wah thousand [dollars]. That was an agreement made by cabinet; that is something we cried for, we bawl for and ask them to have wah lee heart when yo drop this price on we. When the minister has been selling land to his family members for a hundred and eighty dollars an acre, seventy-eight dollars an acre and so, yo wah come and turn to the grassroots people and settle for a thousand dollars an acre. However we noh want no back and forth and we decide we wah work fi we thousand dollars and pay for it. Not to realize dehn mi wah frustrate we and take it long in terms of giving our papers. We can’t get we papers…some people go and pay and they are still not registered in the system. We have some of the people who have been settling the land in the buffer area. Now lands department after we mi make this plan and draw this plan, dehn say weh unu think of this plan. The commissioner say I want unu make this adjustment here…I want unu put in a buffer zone yah. So unu wah come in some more; they wah left this reserved so we can build the roads later on. Alright, we agreed. So we put a buffer zone in. When we ker in the buffer zone back with the map, they approved the map. We gone ahead, we paid we surveyor over four hundred thousand Belizean dollars to get that job done not to realize now that we been back and forth asking lands department to ask the people who have been settling the buffer—dah only about eight to ten of them. Dehn di build some lee shack weh two to three days dehn build wah house and that done built.”

 

Duane Moody

“Squatters?”

 

Nigel Petillo

“…Start Friday, [and] Sunday dah house done build. By the …tiem you turn yo back, wah house done deh deh. And so I am have been asking the government to please sort out this situation; take the police, do the job of the state. I as the land owner am asking you to please ask these people to vacate the area. Another thing Mister Moody, we had reserved land for them. We left land for them people weh deh ina di buffer. We tell them yo have to move from the buffer, however, we have an acre for yo. You need to pay just like every Belizean, you need to go through [the process] and so forth—make sure yo dah Belizean too. And that dah weh di problem get in because we have people from the red side today weh di influence the people; yo have people from the blue side weh di influence the people as well….di tell dehn noh worry about the authority out there, noh worry bout Petillo. The buffer dah noh fi Petillo, dah fi government; unu stay ina di buffer. That is wrong. You who di do that, that is wrong big man and unu know unu self. Yo di provoke the situation. I dah noh the bad man yah. But the way how I see it, it is like dehn the target fi we organization hoping that we will fail. We can’t fail; we noh wah fail. We have to do weh we deh di do.”

 

A meeting will be held on Sunday at Harmonyville for the one thousand plus who have applied and acquired a parcel of land. Petillo says the meeting is to finalize positions on investments and to discuss other issues in the community.

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