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Nov 5, 2020

Land Grab in Succotz Village

There’s only six days left for the November eleventh election and in this last leg, land grabs are being reported all over the place. Three families in the west say that they have worked their lands that were passed on from generation to generation and that all of a sudden, in the lead up to the elections, strange people have been showing up in their communities carrying out surveys for village expansion in San Jose Succotz. They were never informed that the G.O.B. is taking over their land, until they saw survey pegs parceling-out their property. Here is News Five’s Hipolito Novelo with a report.


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Sixty-two-year-old Santiago Ku says that for the past thirty-five years he has been working and developing the family’s thirty acres parcel of land. He inherited the land from his father and he says everyone in San Jose Succotz Village in Cayo West area knows this.  But tonight Ku is angry and worried because he found surveyor’s pegs in his farm land and has since heard that the village council decided to use his land for a village expansion project. Ku says that the alcalde of the village, Alfredo Manzanero, who works at the Lands Department failed to inform the family.


Santiago Ku

Santiago Ku, Land Owner

“He never went to check my land. This is the first thing that he had to do but he never went to check my land and that is the problem. When I told him Mister Manzanero we have come to see about this land, what are you doing with this land? They told me that they don’t have any name. they don’t have anything. They don’t have no number. They saw this paper and they said that it is not valid. He didn’t tell me anything. He just went and cut and that’s all. He knows me very well. Yesterday I went to my farm and I reached there by the road and I wanted him to stop where they are dividing my land and he did not stop. I waited for him and he never stop here. He went back again. He knows what they are doing.”


Located along Waterhole Road some two miles out of Succotz, the land remains in Ku’s father’s name but he is deceased and the Ku family says that the Lands Department has refused to transfer the title. And because they have refused to transfer the title, the Lands Department has also refused all land tax payments for the past seven years. But Ku kept working the land for many years. He has planted corn and beans and other crops which his family consumes.


Herminio Ku

Herminio Ku, Son of Land Owner

“The situation that is right now is not a good situation. As you know they are subdividing the thirty acres to give up to the people which is an injustice. We have been working here for the past thirty five years since my grandfather was living so the land is very, very valuable to us because my father does not have a job. He is a farmer all his life and he depends on the land. That is where our food comes from.”


It is an injustice says the Ku family but they are not the only victims. Maria Chable also owns land along Waterhole Road- fourteen point five acres of farm land, and she says that her land is being demarcated by trespassers. She too heard that her land is being used for the village expansion project.


Maria Chable

Maria Chable, Land Owner

“That piece of land has been in my family from years, from since my grandfather had it and then it passed it to my father and when my father passed my mother took it over and when she passed away I am the one with the bonds for that land. We have harvested corn. We have harvested beans. We have raised chickens there. It is also used for pasture for sheep. At the moment, I investment over ten thousand dollars to build a well. Besides that they invest things so the people world thing that they did not do anything wrong. They are telling the people you are going to get land. They don’t tell the people that the owners are putting it to the court and we cannot acquire the land because we did not do the correct procedures. They go and invent certain things that are wrong. Why are you creating more injustices on top of injustices? That is wrong.”


And then there is the case of Scott Jenkins. His land is also located in the same area: eighty-eight acres of family land that is being subdivided without his permission. Jenkins says that he has lawyered up. His parents are buried in the land.


Scott Jenkins

Scott Jenkins, Land Owner

“It was in probate because my parents had died, they passed away my mom and my dad passed. My dad was the last person so it want to probate, what I know through my lawyer. So I don’t understand how it go through probate and not only that in January I just paid the land tax. So through my lawyer we paid the land tax. I don’t know how the government got a hold of my land. My main concern is that my parents are buried there on the land. It was over forty years that my dad, my family have this land. But again I am stumped. I know my lawyer is working very hard to find out what is going on.”


None of these land owners have received any formal communication from the village council or the Lands Department, that their property has been acquired for a village expansion project. They say that surveyors began appearing about a month ago. The idea for the expansion project for villagers to get a piece of land reportedly came from Manzanero and Erwin Contreras, the U.D.P. Area Representative.


Herminio Ku

“What they did is that they didn’t tell him that they were going to cut or subdivide anything so they went in to the land and did what they have to do. So when we asked them who sent you they said Mister Contreras is the one who gave permission to subdivide the land.”


Maria Chable

“I hear that it is the village council along with the area representative. What I don’t like is that they don’t go through the right procedures because if they want something, I was thought if you want something or need something you ask for it. You just can’t go and grab.”


Scott Jenkins

“For me that is insane. You can’t just go and take people land with their parents buried in it and do what they want and go freestyle people land.”


Hipolito Novelo

“Do you find it suspicious that this is happening now during election season?”


Scott Jenkins

“Yes sir. Yes. That you got right. I find it very, very suspicious.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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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