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Jun 16, 2014

Cotton Tree Village Council sues the government

Andrew Marshalleck

The Ministry of Natural Resources has also been taken to court over the acquisition and distribution of two hundred and fifty-four lots in Cotton Tree. The allegation is that those lots have been split between the eight U.D.P. Area Representatives in Belize City, to be handed over to political supporters in their respective constituencies. The Cotton Tree Village Council claims that it was not consulted, and sued G.O.B.  The first hearing was scheduled for this morning, but it had to be adjourned because the plaintiff did not show. News Five spoke to the council’s attorney Andrew Marshalleck about the challenge, and also about a claim by Minister Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez that the case is racially motivated.


Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney for Cotton Tree Village Council

“We’re challenging two things in the main – the manner of creation of the subdivision and the manner of distribution of the lots created by the subdivision. With regard to the former, the manner of creation of the subdivision, we have three problems with it. First and foremost, there was no consultation with the Village Council, and the law requires that there be such consultation. Second and third is that there has been no compliance with the statutory requirements with the creation of subdivisions. This I suspect will be a little bit controversial, as the fundamental position we’ve taken is that the provisions of the Land Utilization Act and the Environmental Protection Act apply equally to government as it does to private citizens. Historically it’s been that government behaves and acts as if these things don’t apply to them, so they never take any steps whatsoever to comply. In the usual course you’re not allowed to create a subdivision until you put in infrastructure. When government ignores the requirement they are able to create subdivisions with no infrastructure at all. And when you look at the subdivision at Cotton Tree you see that not even a blade of grass has been cut. In fact I might be wrong…I’ve been told now that they did send somebody with a machete and some grass might have been cut but nothing other than that has been done. There are no roads, no drains, no electricity…no water. What’s the use of a subdivision like that to the people to whom these lots have been distributed?”



“Minister Martinez said that one of the factors why the Village Council is fighting this is the race factor. How would you respond?”


Andrew Marshalleck

“I don’t know about that. It’s certainly not the basis of any challenge in court. I am not able to say if there are individuals in the village who are motivated by those types of considerations and I don’t want to go there. I think that’s just inflammatory and it’s a ruse, it’s a red herring designed to throw you off from the real problem that’s here, which is the use by political parties of public resources to secure votes for themselves. Now public resources belong to the public, not to the U.D.P. and they seem to fail to grasp that fundamental distinction, and we see it over and over again.”


The matter was adjourned until June twenty-third.

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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