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Jun 26, 2020

Sand Hill Village Council, NAVCO Reject ‘Mesop Land Distribution’ in Maxboro

A plan to distribute land in the Maxboro area of Sand Hill is being met with fierce opposition. Over the past weeks, Shyne Barrow, the U.D.P. standard bearer of the Mesopotamia Division has been advertising the Mesopotamia Land Distribution through which he says he will be giving two hundred lots in Maxboro. But the Village Council was bypassed and never consulted and is now joined by the national village council association, in denouncing the proposal. Here is New Five’s Duane Moody with a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

The Sand Hill Village Council and the National Association of Village Councils are both expressing their concerns, rejecting what it calls the “Mesopotamia Land Distribution” in the Maxboro Community of Sand Hill Village. Earlier this week, U.D.P. standard bearer Shyne Barrow announced that some two hundred lots would be issued to residents in the Mesop constituency. That news came as a surprise to Village Chairman Darren Leal.


Darren Leal

Darren Leal, Chairman, Sand Hill Village Council

“On Tuesday we received the reports that the U.D.P. standard bearer Shyne Barrow of the Mesopotamia constituency is allegedly distributing approximately two hundred plots of land in the Sand Hill, Maxboro area. When we got the news it was very alarming to us—not just the Sand Hill Village Council, but the community, the residents of Sand Hill Village.”


According to Leal, in contravention of the Village Council Act Chapter Eighty-Eight Revised Edition 2000, they were never consulted.


Darren Leal

“On page 47 1(C), it says before dealing with any lands in the village, the ministry responsible for lands shall consult the council and take its views into account and should the said ministry decide not to follow the advice of the council, it shall explain its reasons in writing to the council before effecting that decision and provide the council further opportunity to present its case to the ministry. From we were elected, the area representative of Belize Rural North has never once sit down with us and say you know what Mister Leal we want to see the way forward for Sand Hill Village. We want to issue some land in your area; this is the way we are going about doing it. We want to help outsiders; we have people in the Belize City area who want a piece of land. Let’s discuss this issue and see how we can benefit both the residents of Sand Hill and these people from the Mesopotamia constituency.”


Javier Sabido, President, NAVCO

“NACVO continues to demand that village councils be given the respect by the U.D.P. government and its area representatives.  NAVCO categorically denounces these actions which are clearly being used to gain political mileage in an upcoming General Election.”


NAVCO President Javier Sabido says that the standard bearer in question has no power to be distributing land and that across the country, village councils are being disregarded for their authority in the communities they represent.


Javier Sabido

Javier Sabido

“There are a lot of questions and we are puzzled Duane as we know that the standard bearer for Mesopotamia area is not an elected member, area representative. He is just a standard bearer for that area for the U.D.P.  There is a lot of questions on how he has that authority that mandate to come to a village and distribute land without consulting with the village council and there are a lot of questions. Village councils are elected by the majority of residents of each village so they are the highest authority in the village and the chairperson has the highest authority and he is supposed to be consulted and he should be taken into consideration and respected. So that any activities, we welcome any activities that by any government agency or any person or any institution that is willing to assist any village council.”


A map of Maxboro shows that in 2000 when the area was subdivided for a community project, only a part of the land was issued. Approximately one hundred and seventy-three plots of land that had already been surveyed remain in its natural state. As it currently stands, Maxboro has a population of about three hundred persons, primarily working class residents. A resident himself, Rodwell Guerra, who sits on the village council, says that there are concerns about development in the area.


Rodwell Guerra

Rodwell Guerra, Councillor, Sand Hill Village Council

“We are not trying to put anybody in a bracket, but when you are from the village, you have a different lifestyle. We are more together. We hail our neighbours. And if first of all that is not your intention, I believe that is not the place for you. Whoever is moving there, if you are not willing to adapt to the changes, then it is best not to go. So as much as it might seem, we are not trying to box out anybody because of maybe your social class, but we are also trying to keep safety within the community.  It’s a working community; it is developed, but it has been neglected. The roads are bad; the only time the roads are pushed is when it is going to rain.”


Darren Leal

“We have seen where these lands are being issued to different people and they are issued with insufficient infrastructure. Man, most of the lands that these people are issuing are swamp. And it is unfair to the poor people. The issue is not us not granting outsiders or Belizean citizens who are not living in Sand Hill the opportunity to reside in our village. That is certainly not the issue. I believe that all Belizeans are entitled to a piece of land, but it is how this entire thing is transforming and how they are going about doing it.”


So what’s the next move?


Darren Leal

“I would certainly want to think that it is the area representative of Belize Rural North. I don’t think any land can be issued within his constituency without his knowledge, especially over two hundred plots of land. However, if the process has already been on its way, it is something that the village council along with consultants from other bodies to look into this issue and see how best we can come together and resolve this issue. If it is that the village, the community have to come out and stage a protest against this issue, that is what we plan on doing.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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