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Feb 26, 2015

Government/BGYEA Reach Mediation Settlement

The Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association had its day today, and it wasn’t even in court. The organization got one up on G.O.B. in the second mediation session to settle an old dispute. Since last July, the two parties were issued with a mediation order by the court. It started earlier this year and today, BGYEA and G.O.B. were able to come to an agreement. According to Matura Shepherd, BGYEA was able to get seven of eight points, with one pending about costs. BGYEA has been in and outside the courts against the government about the use of land to plant corn in the buffer zone at Harmonyville, their community on the George Price Highway. Well, it seems that harmony has officially been restored in the village. Matura-Shepherd, who represented the grassroots organization, spoke with the media about today’s settlement.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney for BGYEA

“It’s definitely a win for BGYEA. I think what has happened; Government is taking on their responsibility to clean the buffer, which was something that BGYEA was willing to do as co-managers. But it’s good, let Government do what they should do. It’s their duty. If you say it’s crown land then you have to keep it clean. Two, it’s a major success that BGYEA can now plant corn on reserve land and help to pump money back into the community. It also means that Mr Petillo, who has been dragged in and out of the court system, will finally have some peace of mind as that matter will not be hanging over his head and they haven’t been able to have a Harmonyville Day for a while now, they will be able to do that. So I think it’s a big win.  Well, I can give the specifics because we’ve signed off on it. Basically, Government has asked that BGYEA acknowledge that Government is the owner of the buffer and we have no problem with that. So, from now as always the Government holds it in trust for the people, that’s why it is called crown land. They ask that they accept that and I don’t think that BGYEA ever had a problem with that. They had a problem that while you may be legally the owner, you gave us the equitable right to co-manage it as trustees and then you went back against that. So, we’ve agreed on that point. Government- what they have conceded is that is the reserves other than the buffer, the other reserve area which is about sixty acres, they would allow BGYEA to plant corn or anything they want on it. Remember their project was to plant corn and to be able to make money and develop their own community. Government has offered and we have accepted seeds and technical advice through the Ministry of Agriculture. They have also agreed that if there are members in the community who will agree to put all their plots together to create one big farming area, so they have agreed to give them letters of comfort and my clients don’t have a problem with that. Also, they have agreed that Government will remove effective this order coming into place, all squatters from the buffer.”

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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