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Jun 9, 2014

BGYEA’s “Plant Di Corn” Rally at Battlefield Park

On Saturday, representatives of the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association, BGYEA organized a ‘Plant Di Corn’ rally at Battlefield Park in Belize City. The grassroots organization is protesting an injunction from G.O.B. which prohibits them from planting corn in the buffer zone at Harmonyville. The rally also provided the stage for the emergence of the Rod of Correction, a body made up of trade unions, public sector associations and organizations with a grievance. It’s big news because ROC is the first organized mass movement against government since 2008, when the U.D.P. came to office. Mike Rudon was at Battlefield Park and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

There was corn aplenty at BGYEA’s ‘Plant Di Corn’ Rally on Saturday. None of it was actually planted. What was planted was the seed of the first united movement to take on the government of Belize. The numbers were unremarkable – only about two hundred and fifty persons – but there was the sense of something unprecedented happening. The organizations represented brought different issues to the table, but they came together to speak with one voice.

 

Nigel Petillo

Nigel Petillo, President, BGYEA

“Today is a historic day. The civil community, the public servants, the grassroots organizations, concerned citizens are out here today. The message is about development. That’s a unified message out here. Different issues are out here today represented by individuals and organizations to get their voices heard. Today da noh just bout wah BGYEA issue. It’s not just about planting corn. It’s not just about the buffer. It’s about getting the attention of our representatives. It’s about sending that one unified message that we have you working for us, and when you’re not working for us this will be the result – we wah gather, we wah protest, we wah demonstrate, we wah have rallies.”

 

Cristina Coc of the MLA came with the Alcaldes and leaders of the thirty-eight Mayan communities in the South. Like everybody else who attended, they just want to be heard and respected.

 

Cristina Coc

Cristina Coc, Maya Leaders Alliance

“For a number of years now we’ve been defending our rights to our land and to our life in southern Belize and for a long time the government has said that the Mayan people have been trying to fight for special rights. We’ve long recognized that it’s never been a fight of just the Maya people…it’s been a fight for social justice for all Belizeans. What we have done in southern Belize as Mayan people is to be able to be able to stand against the injustices that the government has placed upon is, and so today…because the struggle at Harmonyville is very similar…they’re fighting for their right to life, they’re fighting for their land, they’re fighting as Belizeans to have a piece of land to develop and to make a living off of.”

 

Guillermo Marroquin

Guillermo Marroquin, Valley of Peace Farmers Association

“We are just trying to make a point that we are here together, along with BGYEA and everybody here. We are the voice of Belize and we need to be heard.”

 

There were speakers from different organizations…signs, placards and resolution in the faces of those who stood together on Saturday.

 

Wil Maheia

Wil Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“I think this is the beginning of something big, so I am not disappointed at the crowd, not at all. I think that the message that’s spoken out here today, people will hear it, and it will motivate them to come out. Belizeans are intimidated by government…not only this government but by any government that has been in power. They use the intimidation tactic and we Belizeans have got to get rid of that ‘fraida’ mentality. We continue to fear the government and we should not fear the government. We need to stand up for our rights.”

 

Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA

Geovannie Brackett

“We have thousands upon thousands of buffer-zoned Belizean owned land that is for Belize, and we have illegal Guatemalan immigrants who are constantly illegally farming our land, yet when we have a bunch of legitimate citizens about to farm some corn on fifty or sixty acres of buffer-zone land, we come down on them like all hell is breaking loose. Since when has the government been so law-abiding, if I could use that term? Since when has the government been so structured?”

 

While the rally was at its inception a BGYEA event, the rally was about much more than just corn and a buffer zone…the message is a lot bigger than that, and that message is being sent straight to G.O.B.

 

Greg Ch’oc

Greg Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM

“I suspect there is the Heritage dictionary, there is the Webster’s Dictionary and I believe there is going to be a U.D.P. Dictionary…because everything that has occurred here there’s a re-definition of the word corruption, and everything else that has gone wrong in this country.”

 

Luke Palacio

Luke Palacio, National President, B.N.T.U.

“We have been able to point out the injustice that is being meted out to BGYEA by the government because right in the vicinity, in fact bordering the lands that BGYEA has been granted, buildings and fences go all the way to the highway and they are not considered a buffer zone. So we need to stand up, we need to stand up for Belize because what we are doing today we are standing up not only for BGYEA but we are standing up for Belize and for the future of this country and unless we the Belizean people decide that we are going to do something about what is wrong in our country, all the injustices that are happening, then we will lose our country sooner rather than later.”

 

The last time an anti-government organization was formed it was the Association of Concerned Belizeans pre-2008. That organization had a political platform, while ROC seems to be steering clear of all political affiliation. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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