A Community of Squatters in the Heart of the Country

In 1962, Belmopan was chosen as the new capital after the devastation of hurricane Hattie left Belize City in ruins. Since then, the City of Belmopan has been rapidly expanding, so much so that there is no more available land to inhabit according to RECONDEV and the Lands Department. But that has not stopped some individuals from squatting on green zones. In fact, entire communities of squatters are erecting structures right in the heart of the Capital City. The First community is located behind the Las Flores and the Maya Mopan Area. A quick aerial glance reveals a minimum of 50 houses built just on the outskirts of Belmopan, well inside designated green zones. The second community of Squatters is located behind the area of East Piccini.  This one is more of a concern for residents in that area because it is located beside a stream known as Ten Cents Creek, and as recently as late last year, residents began to see the clearing of the designated buffer zone that surrounds the stream; a buffer zone  that helps to prevent flooding. In fact, legally, no clearing should be done up to 66 feet of a water body, on both sides.  This clearing by Ten Cents creek goes directly up to the creek bank in certain areas. Today, we contacted the Commissioner of Lands, but he told us he is not familiar with the case.  We also contacted RECONDEV, a branch of the City Council that overseas land matters in Belmopan but were told the Chairman will not be available until Monday next week. RECONDEV did tell us however that they are aware of the situation but could not comment further. We will continue to follow this story as heavy falling of trees and clearing of the area continue and when we asked the two Hispanic men clearing the area who gave them permission to do so, they told us they were hired by a man that they did not name.

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