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Oct 2, 2023

Yemeri Grove Versus Laguna – Again!

We’ve been reporting on the Laguna and Yemeri Grove issue over the Maya traditional land distribution system versus what the residents of Yemeri Grove say is encroachment. Based on the findings of an investigation, the Laguna Village Council had cleared land in an area adjacent to the village, which they had illegally surveyed.  And back in May of this year, the Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs asked for all parties to refrain from placing any survey markers in the area.  But according to residents of Yemeri Grove, the Maya people of Laguna have not complied and so on Sunday, they went out to clear lots for themselves. Shortly thereafter, the Commissioner of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs arrived in the area. The residents took video of what happened on the ground and shared it with News Five.


Monica Coc-Magnusson

Monica Coc-Magnusson, Villager

“Just so all ah unu know, please, I don’t know what your reasonings are for being here, but as you very well know, we don’t want to fight with anybody. We have been very peaceful so far; you guys have not. So I am asking you nicely, unu please go home. Go to church; it’s Sunday morning. I don’t know what you are doing out here. And I see a lot of you are brothers and sisters that I’ve seen in church over and over again. I’m not Miss Cristina, just so we are clear. Look at all of you with your machetes. So please, you all are trespassing. But unu please go home, please go home.”


On the Phone: Herald Usher, Chairman, Yemeri Grove

“Honorable Dolores mentioned on all radio stations that she was going to give in writing to both Yemeri Grove Village and Laguna Village a letter stating that both village should refrain from doing any development on the land because it is disputed. We at Yemeri Grove as civil people, we decided to abide by what she had said because we weren’t even issued the letter. However, as Belizeans and law-abiding people, we decided to standby a wait and hoped that the government would step in and do what they are elected to do. What happened is that we noticed that the people from Laguna have since erected about two buildings within the area. We actually found out that the MLA started to erect a huge building also; they had a foundation and they started to build in the area also. I must say that no one from the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs or from no other ministry went and stopped these people so we decided as a village and with my council that we will go out there and actually issue a piece of land, a parcel of land to each villager who needs a piece of land. So we went and we started marking the area. We didn’t notice that the attorney, Miss Monica came out with her husband on the road; the chairperson from Laguna came out. They started saying a lot of stuff; we ignored them. I ignored them and I told my villagers that we came here to do one thing, to mark our land and we would proceed after that. Monica stated that she would call the police and I noticed very shortly after that Mister Greg Ch’oc, the Commissioner of Indigenous Affairs entered the area.

One of the police told me that they had gotten instructions asking us to leave the area. So I told her we have no problem in leaving this area, however, we are within our village boundaries, we are on a government road, we are not faasing with anybody; we are marking our land for our villagers and I don’t think that this thing should be one-sided.”


Usher says that Commissioner Greg Ch’oc confirmed with him that a document is at his desk about the delimitation of village boundaries, which must be done by licensed surveyors sanctioned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Petroleum. Usher says that Ch’oc has invited him to a meeting for a date that has not yet been determined.

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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