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Jun 29, 2020

Land Problems in Red Bank Cause Fracture Within Village Council

Another land dispute is brewing; this time in southern Belize. The Red Bank village chairman is in the eye of a storm for distributing lands without consulting with the rest of council. Over the weekend, it became crystal clear that the council was not taking the heavy handedness lightly and a public meeting was held where the rift in the council was all exposed. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Red Bank Village, a Mayan community in South Stann Creek with approximately two thousand, five hundred residents, is facing what appears to be a land distribution dilemma.  At the heart of that issue is Village Chairman William Salam, who many, including Vice Chairman Pablo Acal, are accusing of acting autonomously where land distribution is concerned.

 

Pablo Acal

Pablo Acal, Vice Chairman, Red Bank Village

“I want to be honest that I don’t know what is happening at the moment, the chairman has singled me out for whatever reason, maybe because of this situation here.  But I do believe that transparency is what we want and I believe that if we get this documentation we can move as a citizen, we can move as a villager, but if we have a chairman who doesn’t listen to us, listen to our concern then that is telling me that he doesn’t want to work with us.  I do believe as well that if we work together I know for sure that Red Bank people will be happy and we deserve these concerns to be listened to.”

 

According to Juliana Ogaldez whose sibling has reportedly made several attempts at securing a parcel, the village leader refused to grant her permission and when she cleared a lot to build on, she was threatened with legal action.

 

Juliana Ogaldez

Juliana Ogaldez, Resident, Red Bank Village

“My sister went to the chairman and asked for a house lot.  She went so many times to the chairman and the chairman didn’t give her a piece of lot.  What my sister did, she went and cleaned the yard that no one is cleaning and then she started to build her house there.  What the chairman did was that he went and talked to my sister, he said that he was going to bring police for my sister and take her out from there and she born and grow here, she’s a Belizean.”

 

It seems, however, that there is also a fracture within the Red Bank Village Council and that splintering became apparent over the weekend when Salam’s deputy came out against him.

 

Pablo Acal

“Lots have been distributed, I don’t know whatever or how it is being distributed; I was not even called for a meeting.  I don’t know why, but as the vice chairman I believe that I should know because people are behind me and people believe in me and if the vice chairman doesn’t know anything then that is unjust and one man cannot run our village.  Do you believe in that?”

 

Crowd

“No.”

 

Pablo Acal

“And for us to move forward we need to work together.  Other members as well told me the same scenario, they don’t know what is happening, only one man is running the village and that’s unfair for us because right now we don’t know how the lots have been distributed and we need to review these lists and for us to review this list we need to come around the table and see how this happened.”

 

William Salam was elected chairman of Red Bank in 2019.  Upon assuming office, a land distribution project involving UDP standard bearer and former Labor Commissioner Ivan Williams was introduced in the community.

 

William Salam

William Salam, Village Chairman, Red Bank

“We had a meeting with our villagers sometime in October of last year where we introduced a project with house lots and we even had the caretaker for this area come down and meet with the people and tell the people the specifics of that project.  So we gave them the details of what it would involve which means that it would involve them paying and after that the standard bearer pledged that he would work on getting the lease papers for them and so from there on we collected names of those who would be interested in the lot.  So we sat down as a council, we went back to the people and contacted them to say, listen, if you are interested in a lot then we are willing to help out.  The standard bearer mentioned to the people that he’s not a minister yet, so all he can do is help with the lease papers and he could not pay for the lots project.”

 

The charge against Salam by his colleague is that he has not been forthcoming with his constituents.

 

Pablo Acal

“The chairman needs to work better than that and he needs to come and face his people.  All of that we must demand of; it’s not difficult to do.  He needs to be humble.  As a leader, for me, we want to see our leaders give us correct information.  We are tired and any future leader who wants to come up they must think twice to run our village because this is one way how we can correct our leaders.”

 

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.

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