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Jul 3, 2012

U.S. Investor tells More Tomorrow villagers to leave

Farmers in More Tomorrow Village are going head to head with a U.S. Developer, who is claiming land they say was given to them by the government. The village chairman, Michael Myvette, says that Joseph Martin arrived in Belize from Texas in late 2011, saying that he purchased five hundred acres of land. But the property, according to Myvette, was allocated to farmers in the village after being acquired by G.O.B. from a Chinese company.  They have been working towards getting land titles for the farmers, but the American has put a wrench in those plans. News Five’s Delahnie Bain headed to More Tomorrow and found several troubled villagers.


Delahnie Bain, Reporting

A land dispute in More Tomorrow Village is on the verge of boiling point and over twenty farmers are at risk of being displaced. It dates back to 1998 when the government acquired seven thousand five hundred acres of land from a Chinese company, Universal Investments Limited. A thousand acres was designated for the farmers of More Tomorrow Village, but according to Chairman, Michael Myvette, they received seven hundred and one acres called Block Four.


Michael Myvette, Chairman, More Tomorrow Village

“From then we start to develop thus area but we back and forth with the previous administration and this current administration—the P.U.P. and the U.D.P.—so both political parties be aware of what is going on in our area.”


Delahnie Bain

“When you all got these lands, did you get titles for them?”


Michael Myvette

“We noh have no titles, we noh have no papers; that’s what we’re fighting for right now because we know dah mi government land and that’s why we come into the area and we started to develop the place because we were entitled to a thousand acres out of this.”


But after years of development in the village, a U.S. national, Joseph Martin is now claiming five hundred acres of the farmers’ lands.


Michael Myvette

Michael Myvette

“Da we mek dis road get een yah, dah we mek di electricity get een and now they see the place coming, developing and all of a sudden there is a man coming around, Mr. Martin say that he bought five hundred acres of land out of this amount. Then we went with a delegation to the commissioner and he said that he noh know nothing about dat, dat Mr. Martin buy any land and ih seh he noh business wid Mr. Martin, he business wid we di farmers.”


We were provided with amateur footage from a meeting held in December 2011, in which the Lands Commissioner, Wilbur Vallejos, explained the confusion over the ownership of the land and assured the farmers that Martin’s title was not valid.


Wilbur Vallejos, Commissioner of Lands

“Government acquired the seven thousand plus acres of land in 1998 and for some reason or the other, little people knew about the acquisition and so the Chinese, either were not informed or forgot that the land was acquired and so they proceeded to transfer portions of it to persons and that is how Mr. Martin ended up getting title, a title that legally is null and void, a title that has no validity because of the records not being amended and everything.  We were forced to regularize the status of the land by returning everything to the Chinese. Everything was returned to them so that all those individual titles that existed came out of it. So in actuality, the Chinese are the true owners of the land.”


The next step would have been the transfer of the land and it appeared that the misunderstanding had been resolved.


Wilbur Vallejos

Wilbur Vallejos

“The government is negotiating with the Chinese and they have agreed to return to government a thousand acres of land. We feel, at this point in time, government cannot afford to purchase back seven thousand acres of land. The Taiwanese are supposed to come into the country early next year to sign over the conveyance where they transfer the land back over to the government once you guys acknowledge it and we do it so that we can move on with the proposed division and then the actual survey of the land.”


But the farmers’ application to survey was rejected and Martin returned to the village with a bulldozer and began to develop a plot of land. Myvette sought a stop order, but says Vallejos then told him that Martin had a valid land title. So where did Martin suddenly get a valid title? Myvette says they have been unable to find out from Vallejos, who then allegedly sent them a message from the Minister of Lands.


Michael Myvette

“He seh dat he bring wah message from di minister dat di minister seh fi mek he tell we dat out ah all di development eena di block four seven hundred and one acre, only seven persons wah get land out ah it. So we ask well den weh happen to di rest ah fi we development? Di commissioner can’t drag back ih words like dat because I mean fi seh dah he tell we dis. And den we know dah mi government land; we have di gazette and everything, we have records fi prove.”


Myvette and other farmers from More Tomorrow say they’ve invested too much in their farms to just give up and they’re prepared to protest if necessary.


Michael Myvette

“So we di seh we noh wah move because we have our development here. Dehn development noh tek one or two years you know, dis tek wah lot ah time and dah lone manual labor put into dehn thing. We will ker a demonstration you know. We definitely have to form and gather a demonstration and be front ah di office protesting for our rights because weh we seh, the commissioner should not take back his word like dat because dah he promise us dis would be settled once and for all and all of a sudden ih swing it around again.”


Charles Sutherland

Charles Sutherland, Deputy Chairman/Farmer, More Tomorrow Village

“As all ah we stand up and we stand up for our rights and we say we aren’t going to move. We noh wah move because di land is for we and the land is for Belize and Belizeans so we noh wah move.”


George Montero

George Montero, Farmer, More Tomorrow Village

“See how much people got dehn land developed? So who go di land should get di land, you noh think so? We noh want no stranger come from America and come boss or tek weh we have because dis dah fi we country and we due whatsoever di government should ah get fi we.”


Terrence Sutherland

Terrence Sutherland, Farmer, More Tomorrow Village

“What I need fi tell di Prime Minister dat ih need fi si bout di fi we because di minister no di check it or maybe ih noh want give we. But I di send dis fi di prime minister and di minister mek dehn si dis and mek dehn know dat we need fi we land and we noh di give up.”


According to Myvette, a scheduled April meeting with Martin didn’t happen he left the country. Delahnie Bain for News Five.


We’ll have more of More Tomorrow’s land issue on tomorrow’s newscast.

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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16 Responses for “U.S. Investor tells More Tomorrow villagers to leave”

  1. Storm says:

    Integrity of land titles is one of the biggest problems for long-term development of the Jewel. We jsut don’t have a meaningful system to record and secure titles, so land can be taken away with the stroke of a functionary’s pen — too often after some dishonest payment. Or the collusion of a crooked justice of the peace “authenticates” a forged deed.

    One of the most valuable resources in the Jewel is abundant good land, more than the small population needs. But situations like this one, where locals gain some claim to land that a foreigner has paid for, are certain to scare off the investors who could provide jobs over the long term and allow us to return to prosperity..

    I’ve called for consulting with foreigners to help us out in other ways — strengthening our law enforcement and prosecution agencies, and figuring out a sustainable government program for the economy. I think we need to do it with regard to land title, too.

    Are you sure your land cannot be stolen from you without your knowledge? I’m not.

  2. Rod says:

    More corruption from this udp gov. It is sp rampant that it is being done out in the open now corruption corruption corruption.

  3. Uagadodo says:

    Sad story, bottom point is: you can buy if somebody’s selling. Who sold it? You can’t blame the texan because he has money and want to invest it somewhere, blame who sold it knowing about the farmer situation.

  4. John says:

    Hmmm….. Mr. Martin has failed Real Estate 101. Sorry, man, but if you are buying property in Belize, it would be best to make sure no on has sqwatted on the land. In the case of the More Tommorow land, it was handed out by the government.

    Best advice from an old Gringo Mennonita farmer in Belize: Meet with Mr. Myvette, the village chairman. Make a big toodoo of handing over the land to the people who have worked their asses off to develop the same. Then get the very best lawyer in Belize and go after the people who sold you this land in the first place. They knew damned good and well there were claims against this land.

    End of day, the villagers of More Tommorow have worked hard for this land, Mr. Martin has been, for the moment, taken for a ride and the government has been pointing in all directions except at its own incompetance. Get on with it and get this fixed.

  5. blackberry says:

    Events like this will be happening more in the near future as belizean land owners are selling their lands on which recent migrants are squatting on to US nationals.

  6. BELIZEAN says:

    wilbert vallejos is a complete jackass!! i know him very well, he took away my sisters land tittle to give it to his brothers of religion. i dnt know why is he still working in the lands dept. i think government like those big thiefs, instead of solving problems he take it as his own benefit, this man own lot of land that he take away from other pple. mein sad to see this kind a pple exist here and in my country! something has to be done!!

  7. Uncle Benji says:

    Belize we have a problem. The most despicable part of this specific land deal is not the government crroks that sold land illegally or the racist money bag that purchased the lands without proper research; it is the deadbeat, foreign lover Belizeans that are quick to “let’s consult foreigners because they can help us.”

    Look Belize is no longer a colony. Either we sink or swim. We need to realize that Belize can only grow if we are ready to endure hardships along the growth path. Until Belize become “nationalistic” we will continue to have land problems and many more similar issues. We are to eager and willing to kiss the foreign @$$ which eventually leads to problems. Why is that everytime a foreigner is involved in a Belizean land deal, something goes bad?

    Travel to Honduras or across to Mexico, and try to purchase raw land as a Belizean, guess what Jack? You can’t do it.

  8. Belizean Pride says:

    SINCE the PUP and now the UDP in place i’ve been applying for a piece of land and to no avail. this past post election land title give aways I tried and nothing while others who had two three land titles walked happily when I can’t even get one for my self. looks like when you’re not politically hooked you don’t get, you have to be there kissing their political arses to get one which is not correct all native Belizeans should get a land by right.

  9. El Gringo says:

    keep on quarelling you cruffies, we gringoes have the money that your ministers like. Minister Boots just gave away two hundred and fifty thousand dollars that was destined already to poor people in Soth side Belize City and you all clapped and jumped up and down. you already for got about young Jasmine Lowe. while you quarrel about ICJ and Guatemala over the next two years we gringoes will have a field day.

  10. alley cat says:

    no issue, follow the chain of TITLE!

    Taiwanese has title —>gov negotiated for title but never obtained it —->>>Texan gets title from Taiwanese. Any court will rule in favour of Texan!

  11. eye for an eye says:

    It’s a damn shame…but guess what? It’s we the Belizean people who want it so. We let, and continue to let this happen to us among other things. When will we show the ‘leaders’ WE ELECT the things we stand for and the things we stand against??????

    We decide everyday what this government gets away with!!

  12. rebel says:

    Gringo …………….. monmey is not everything. I want u to have a field day in venezuela with the HERO HUGO CHAVEZ and Cuba FIDEL CASTRO. U come here and think u can be kings ………….

  13. oliver says:

    I believe the GOB is fundamentally retarded. I also believe Americans and other potential investors should take their money and invest it elsewhere.

  14. Al says:

    Belizeans are being screwed again by their own government. Belizeans are on their way to becoming slaves in their own country and the slave trader is again the government. No one is thinking about the future of the country, they are all for the all mighty dollar right now. I pray that some international group will begin to take notice of what is going on in this country and begin to pressure the government to do better. This government pretends to be democratic, but is really a dictator ship fully incontrol of the peoples lives.

  15. william freda says:

    No need to belittle foreign investors I believe the biggest problem is the corruptive nature of the land department when minister Vega has appointed cronies to the land department and appointed his nephew Land commissioner and was in court fighting over a dispute where beach property was taken from the right full owners and given to his daughter.

  16. Truthbetold says:

    One word >> Ineptocracy

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