Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Featured, Miscellaneous, People & Places » Understanding a Need for Land in Cotton Tree
May 19, 2020

Understanding a Need for Land in Cotton Tree

The desire to own a parcel of land sent hundreds of persons out to mile forty-four on the George Price Highway. Activist Nigel Petillo, formerly of BGYEA, has identified two thousand five hundred acres of arable land, whose owner is now deceased. Petillo promises to parcel off the property at an acre each per person.  The gathering on Sunday did not end well for Petillo, but it brought out the consistent want for and the frustrating process to acquire land. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Nigel Petillo, Activist

“As Belizeans, we need to understand the importance of land.  I’ve always spoken and said that land is the solution to poverty, proper land management is the solution to poverty and wahn lotta unu noh understand it.”


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Land ownership and tenure are both measures of wealth and marginalization, particularly in rural communities.  The size of landholdings is often used as a proxy for income or wealth, while land tenure status can be used to prevent small farmers from consolidating power.  On the fringes of Cotton Tree Village is a swath of land covering two thousand, five hundred acres.


Nigel Petillo

Nigel Petillo

“We decided that we would do some research, we decided that we would have had a discussion over the said piece of land and see how we could liaise with the authorities and make the land available.  There’s many ways of acquiring land and making land available fi yoh people if yoh serious bout it.  Every time yoh go da Lands Department and yoh ask fi wahn piece of land, government wahn tell yoh none noh deh, go look fi wahn piece and bring it back to we attention.  Many times yoh do that, the information weh yoh give een get issued out to somebody else and somehow somebody else end up with da land.  Now people need fi stop act di fool as if though dehn noh hyah or know that dehn ya things di happen.  Dehn ya things di happen long time.”


And that’s part of the frustration that prompted a throng of residents from Cotton Tree and other parts of the country to descend on this location on Sunday.  They all have a keen interest in owning land here.  Despite the fact that its titleholder passed away some time ago without leaving behind a beneficiary, there is a process which must be followed in order for the land to be reapportioned.


To understand the rush for property in Cotton Tree, one must first appreciate its proximity to Belmopan.  The administrative capital of the country is only a few miles away.  The village is also expanding at a rapid pace and land is quickly becoming scarce.


Cotton Tree Resident 1

“People want a piece of land then [other] people wahn tek dis from we.  Dehn wahn give it to the big business places mein.  So we need [a few] acres of land to do farming.”


Cotton Tree Resident 2

Cotton Tree Resident 2

“The problem is that by the time the state of emergency is over these pieces of land are already gone, sold already.  So we are just trying to prevent this from happening so that’s the reason why we came in solidarity, gather up together to catch the government’s attention.”


Of equal importance is its ethnic composition.  Cotton Tree is a mixed population of immigrants and native Belizeans, Hispanics, as well as residents of Creole descent.


Nigel Petillo

“That same individual who was an immigrant about twenty years ago or thirty years ago own wahn piece ah land, maybe wahn whole farm too; educated, di do very good.  That da weh we wahn sih fu we Belizean people too.  We know di power weh land give yoh, we know di freedom weh land give yoh, we know di independence weh land give yo.  We understand that owning wahn piece a land will definitely change yo life and ih wahn break di generational curse that many of us have been going through.”


In a release issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources on May eleventh, it reiterated the illegality of squatting on national and private lands.  It also acknowledged that, “unauthorized individuals are involved with private lands in the Agricultural Area of Cotton Tree Village, near Benny’s Warehouse at mile forty-four on the George Price Highway.”  Despite a warning from government for persons to be cautious about engaging in activities resulting in the illegal disposal of land and unauthorized occupation, many turned out on Sunday to see what, if any, land can be acquired. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed