Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association known as BGYEA had big plans to utilize the 29 acre buffer zone which separates Harmonyville from the George Price Highway. The group said they were going to plant corn in order to generate to build streets in Harmonyville; streets that BGYEA says the Government refuses to do for them.
According to BGYEA’s president Nigel Petillo, Commissioner of Lands Wilbert Vallejos had told them that they are solely responsible for managing the buffer zone.
With that they proceeded with their plans and got into an agreement with someone to cultivate corn in the buffer. However, on May 8th the government ordered the person to cease and desist; putting a hold on BGYEA’s plans.
On May 9th, BGYEA proceeded to send in a written request to proceed with their plans. In response to their request, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture sent out a press release on Friday, in which they stated that,
“Considering that BGYEA advocated and persisted for the Department of Lands and Surveys to remove the squatters who illegally occupied the buffer zone of the Harmonyville area, the Ministry finds it very interesting that it is the same BGYEA organization that subsequently proceeded to encroach into the said buffer, without permission from the Department of Lands and Surveys. Notwithstanding, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture presented their request to Cabinet for consideration, however, the request was not supported since buffer zones are national lands and must be maintained in their natural state.”
The press release ended by saying that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture is prepared to continue constructive, peaceful and timely dialogue with the members of Harmonyville, but that it must be “in accord with the law as “we” work in support of and ensure the proper development of this area” .
BGYEA however, is not taking no for an answer. Despite the fact that their partner backed from the corn planting venture, Nigel Petillo confirmed to us through text message this morning that that they will proceed to, quote, “Plant corn. Let’s see them burn it or cut it”, them referring to the Government. BGYEA members are now in the process of purchasing corn seeds.