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May 11, 2022

Mobile Land Clinic Visits Belize Rural North

The community center in Sand Hill Village was teeming with activity, as residents from across the Belize Rural North constituency gathered at that location to participate in a land clinic.  The Ministry of Natural Resources has held over twelve of these mobile clinics since the portfolio was assumed by Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde in 2020.  Today, we had a chance to speak with the minister, as well as the area representative on the impact of this initiative in rural communities.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Since reviving the mobile land clinic, the Ministry of Natural Resources, particularly the Lands Department, has been addressing the needs of thousands of Belizeans in their respective communities.


Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources

“We’ve done over a dozen of them, it’s in high demand.  Everywhere we go, people want us to come back and the places we haven’t been, people want us to come.  The fact of the matter is that land issues are varied, they are plenty and a lot of them are lingering for many, many, many years.”


In Belize Rural North, a constituency with as many as twenty-three villages, the issues surrounding land acquisition and tenure are wide-ranging.  This morning, Oscar Pollard traveled from Lucky Strike to Sand Hill.  As a past chairman, he is representing a handful of residents from his community.


Oscar Pollard

Oscar Pollard, Resident, Lucky Strike Village

“I know my people have applied for lease and to date they have not gotten their lease.  People have applied to purchase land, it’s the same situation and, well as I explained to other people, today is not a day for first application because of the vast amount of people that we have, but it’s a great concern and we need to have more clinics like this.”


Under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde, whose portfolio includes the aforesaid responsibilities, things have been shaping up considerably.  Taking the clinic to the people alleviates the headache of visiting the Lands Department in Belmopan where simple processes are often bogged down due to endless red tape.


Cordel Hyde

“We don’t have enough hands to keep up with the demand, so when we come and do a clinic, we’re really taking the department to the people and focusing and giving them priority.  And so, they are able to get their stuff done in a very short time, stuff that’s been lingering for many, many years, you are able to get in a day or two.”


Area Representative Marconi Leal Sr. acknowledges the issues that his constituents are facing and, given the sheer size of Belize Rural North, has requested that additional time be afforded to assist as many landowners as possible within the constituency.


Marconi Leal Sr.

Marconi Leal Sr., Area Representative, Belize Rural North

“We were asked to see more or less like a hundred people from Belize Rural North today, but I am hoping that the Lands Department will work with us and maybe we go up to one [hundred] twenty-five or one hundred and fifty.  We don’t know, but we’ll see how it looks in the evening, but I know that they will work very late tonight and very late tomorrow night.  So as much as we can see, we will see today.”


While it requires a lot from the officers that are assigned to these clinics, the sense of satisfaction, according to DPM Hyde, is what pushes them forward.


Cordel Hyde

“I think I see in the eyes of our public officers the satisfaction they get from satisfying people, from making people happy and as opposed to when you’re in Belmopan where there is usually this rancor and this intensity, on the clinics, people are relaxed and people are able to show their appreciation and I think the public officers really value that.  But it’s a lot of lot of work, it’s a lot of work.”


In Lucky Strike where land tenure has been the primary challenge for residents, a unique opportunity such as this allows for the situation to be addressed.


Oscar Pollard

“I have been working with various members of the community, dealing with their land problem, I took it on my own, I’ve been to Belmopan to see the minister, you know.  There are lands that are locked and that’s one of the big issues.  They have had people that they say have applied to purchase and, like myself, I have to purchase and I have prescriptive rights and these things are, you know, delaying and I know that the clinic out here today could definitely address that situation.”


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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