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Apr 24, 2019

Fire in San Pablo, Amid Land Dispute, Destroys Acres of Cornfield

There is a land dispute brewing in San Pablo Village, Toledo District where residents of that southern community are at odds with the principals of A&E Trading Company.  Earlier today, Marie Lou Serto came forward with an allegation against businessman Antonio Zabaneh, whom she claims, is trying to eject her family from land they have been occupying for the past thirty-one years.  According to Serto, employees of the company arrived at their home with heavy equipment, ready to demolish the property.  News Five understands that the Zabaneh family purchased over a thousand acres of land in the vicinity a few years ago.  That tract reportedly includes the forty acres known as Farm Twenty-one which Serto says belongs to her family.  News Five also learned that a fire in the area has destroyed several acres of cornfields owned by Serto’s family. 

 

Marie Lou Serto

Marie Lou Serto, Resident, San Pablo Village

“I mi live in Farm 21 but we di just start build wah house where all my family is beside Farm 21.  We have a lot of forty acres, I think.  But now we are living in a bad thing because Mr. Tony Zabaneh and his family di reach eena my house.  He wahn mek we [get] out from di place.  We build our house, I grow in that place and it is the problem that we got with him and I know that he is an owner of all Belize, a lot of places in Belize.”

 

Wil Maheia

“But you live there how many years?”

 

Marie Lou Serto

“I grew [up] there.”

 

Wil Maheia

“How old are you now?”

 

Marie Lou Serto

“Thirty-one-years old.”

 

Wil Maheia

“So you’ve been living on that same land for thirty-one years.”

 

Marie Lou Serto

“Yes, I live here.  I am Belizean.”

 

Wil Maheia

“How many families live there?”

 

Marie Lou: Serto

“We are nine families.”

 

Wil Maheia

“Nine families. Okay, and they want all of you to move?”

 

Marie Lou Serto

“All, he says all.”

 

Wil Maheia

“Did they bring bulldozer for you?”

 

Marie Lou Serto

“Yes, they bring bulldozer because they have it beside our house.  He wants to destroy our house.  That is what he is telling us, to come out.  But I noh know what will happen because [the place is not for us] but we live there.”

 

Wil Maheia

“For thirty years.”

 

Marie Lou Serto

“Thirty-one years.”

 

This afternoon, A&E Trading Company issued a release in response to comments made by the aggrieved residents.  That statement reads, “A&E Trading purchased a banana farm last April comprised of two parcels of land.  In rehabilitating and developing the farm, we encountered a family of squatters.  Since then we have been trying to work amicably with them to resolve the situation in line with all the conditions which have to be met in the industry, but to no avail.  Certain groundless, false and defamatory allegations have now been made to your media house by them against the owners of the farm which causes us great concern since we have made every reasonable effort to correct the situation and are still desirous of doing so for the benefit of all concerned.”


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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