Today the Government of Belize, represented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture, formally served an injunction on the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA), represented by president Nigel Petillo and vice-president David Barnett, stopping them from conducting any activity in the Buffer Zone separating the Harmonyville community at Mile 41 from the George Price Highway, including a plan to plant corn in conjunction with a foreign investor, Sam Patten.
“If ever this should come to pass that, yes, we plant in the buffer and, and I repeat, ‘if’, if this should come to pass, all proceeds from this, will go to Harmonyville. It won’t be the 15% only, because the community has decided to take over the whole thing.”
Reporter: “So, it wouldn’t be on government revenue or anything like that?”
David Barnett: “No, it is not…it is the money that Nigel was mentioning, that we need to build our roads, we need to access roads. As a matter of fact, that piece of land there in the buffer has a road to the side that is supposed to give people access to their land for the ones that are in the front. So, how can we not go through the buffer to reach our property?”
In Belize City this morning, the group’s leaders met with attorneys Kareem Musa and Audrey Matura-Shepherd, who has officially been retained as counsel to get their legal advice. In its wish to remain non-political, Petillo says, they have not retained Musa because of his political connections. Essentially, they have been told that they must and will respect the injunction.
We hear more from BGYEA president Petillo, who expressed his frustration with the Government’s apparent micro-managing of their project.
“I think this is outrageous; it is nonsense, threatening to imprison us for wanting to plant corn. I want to remind the general public and the government that it is on record that the Commissioner has stated that BIGYEA are the managers of the buffer and the whole 1,300 acres of land of Harmonyville. The statement to managers or to manage is a huge one. Cultivating of crop falls under managing, cleaning of the buffer falls under management. However, the main situation that I would like the courts and everybody to understand is that the government had indicated to us that we, as far as cleaning the buffer, cleaning the roads is on us. We have to find the finance to get that done and we are on our own. So, to leave the buffer in its natural state, it’s absurd; it makes no sense”.
Petillo said the group recognizes the Government’s rights as owners of Crown land, which the Zone represents, but says that does not take away from their rights to manage the area as they see fit.
Petillo also mentions that the Commissioner and CEO in the Ministry are trying to find excuses to cover for their inability to take charge in cleaning the buffer zone.
There will be a membership meeting for BGYEA members at the Harmonyville site on Sunday morning May 25 at 9:00 a.m. to discuss the latest developments injunction to keep out of buffer zone.