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May 19, 2014

Lands Commissioner says Unitedville residents will not be moved

Earlier you heard about the ongoing land disputes in Harmonyville. That’s one of the most recent because there have been countless cases. Last week, News Five broke the story of a brewing land dispute in the small community of Unitedville in the Cayo District. The Ministry of Lands gave title for a five acre plot of land to Bernadette Fischer. That quickly became a major problem, since the land, subdivided into twenty-six lots, was occupied. In fact, some of the residents had been there since the early nineties. After the story broke, Minister of Lands Gaspar Vega and Commissioner of Lands Wilbert Vallejos got involved. Land stories in Belize don’t generally have happy endings, but this might be the rare exception. According to Vallejos, the residents will not be moved.

 

Wilbert Vallejos, Commissioner of Lands

“I met with the residents this morning and they really were satisfied at the end of the meeting. In essence what we decided is that the government will help them retain the land that has been developed by them. This was a gross mistake or negligence on behalf of the department—there’s no other way to put it. An officer or officers not doing their due diligence and ensuring that the land that was offered as compensation to the estate of Dorothy Bell was in fact occupied by some people. I also spoke to the land owner who is very cooperative and supportive of settling this matter. She mentioned to me that she doesn’t want to move anybody. What she was concerned about is that there are people who were moving into the land who were not there at the beginning. But she has expressed commitment in respecting the settlers who have been there long before she got it and the government being the intermediate in trying to settle both the needs of the settlers and the landowner.”

 

Mike Rudon

Wilbert Vallejos

“Will government revoke her title?”

 

Wilbert Vallejos

“I don’t think government will have to do that. The landowner is very amicable in returning the land to the government of Belize. She recognizes that it was an error and she is amicable in doing that. And of course her compensation status goes back to zero and so we’ll just have to renegotiate with her in something else or with something else.”

 

Mike Rudon

“But when you say her compensation status goes back to zero, I understand that she has already received a lump sum of money as well as four lots in compensation for just two lots which was used for the water system, is that so?”

 

Wilbert Vallejos

“I’m talking about the compensation for the lot that she is going to return to the government. I am not talking about the whole compensation that was due to the estate of Dorothy Bell. Just that particular land.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Are you talking about a financial compensation for that?”

 

Wilbert Vallejos

“We didn’t pay her money you know, we gave her land. So she is amicable in getting land somewhere else. That is free from any encumbrance or any occupation whether it is legal or illegal.”

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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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