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Nov 18, 2019

Opposition Leader on Barrio el Juda Settlement

More than thirty Guatemalan families remain not only on the western border but on Belizean territory. These families claim they settled there since the year 2000 illegally squatting on a parcel of land owned by Belizean businessman Jorge Espat. The residents there say they have documents for the properties and are adamant that the houses and fences they’ve erected fall on Guatemalan soil but the Organization of American States has verified that the residents are within Belize. The government has chimed in saying that it has worked with the O.A.S. to take steps to address this matter. An official release states that multiple visits to the area have been made by government officials. It also notes that members of the Belize Defence Force along with the Guatemalan Armed Forces have informed the settlers that they illegally inhabit Belizean territory. But when the media visited the area last week, residents confirmed the official visits but said they were never told that they had to move. Opposition Leader John Briceño today weighed in on the matter, saying that the Government has time and time again showed weakness in properly addressing this issue.

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

John Briceño

“The government has been sleeping at the wheel because they should be alerted. They know that this constantly happens and they should be constantly policing that area so that as soon as they see that kind of activity they can immediately be stopped.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“The residents there, they say that they have been there since 2000 and that is under a P.U.P. administration. Some would criticise that the P.U.P. government did not do anything.”

 

John Briceño

“That is not true. In 200, we were constantly there. We’ve move some of these people from border. That is one. Secondly I think then the Prime Minister should be ashamed to say that this is a constant problem. If this is a constant problem then make sure that the BDF is constantly walking and patrolling that area. You patrol that area so that you can prevent anyone to try to move in this land but obviously they are always asleep at the well. When it blows up in their face then they try to do something.  The government should have been more aggressive. They should have said with Mr. Espat ‘we are with you, we are going to stand with you, we are going to do everything possible to protect your property because that property is in the territory in Belize and it belongs to Belizeans and it does not belong to Guatemalan or the Guatemalans. Again that is another show of weakness on the part of the government and the Foreign Ministry and a show of disrespect to our fellow citizen. Why is it that we have a government? A government is there to protect its land, to protect its territory and to protect its citizens.  And this government is failing every one of them.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“The government later said that the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and OAS collaborated to take joint actions against these settles and they said they discontinued the illegal settling in that area. Cleary we saw different.”

 

John Briceño

“But what’s on the ground tells you something different. Again, they can’t get their act together. One is going left. The next one is going right. One says A, the next one is saying B. They are constantly contradicting themselves. If the Ministry of National Security would have been constantly vigilant or constantly walking in that area there would have known that what is happening.”


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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