“Clear the Land” Castro asked to clear himself off the land

Edmund Castro area Representative for Belize Rural North goes to convention in less than 2 weeks where he is to square off against challenger Dwight Tillett, a former campaign manager of his and a former CEO in his Ministry. And while Castro says his opponent’s chances of winning doesn’t look good, since he claims he has the backing of the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet, Castro’s political stance has not been looking good either this past week. First it was his defamation lawsuit against Channel 5 and Alverine Burgess  where he had endure a long cross examination on every political scandal that he was involved in since he took office. This week the political pressures keep mounting on him. In a letter written by Realtor Emerson Burke, dated May 13th, Castro is accused of Squatting on Lands in Santa Marta Village which he apparently uses to grow cane. Burke states that this practice done by Castro and other farmers alike have caused his clients millions of dollars in cancelled sale agreements. But Castro’s position is that he owns the cane but doesn’t cultivate it and hence, is not squatting. In an interview on Tuesday with our colleagues at channel 7, Castro buckled as he tried to make his argument, which ended with an ad hominem.

 

Hon. Edmund Castro Belize Rural North Area Repvlcsnap-2015-05-22-09h45m26s131

“Foolishness, almost 98% of the farmers in the Santa Marta area are on some private land. I do not own any private land in Santa Marta, however I do have cane. I have been in the cane business ever since I was about 10 or 12 years old. We had cane in the Carmelita area, it’s just a tradition we continue in the business. So Emerson Burke need to seize and desist because then I’m not a man that likes court or know about court. He has no proof that any squatting of land is being done by me or any letter or any paper to show that I have own or claim to own any land in the Santa Marta area.”

Reporter

“You say you have cane there.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“We have cane.”

Reporter

“Under what conditions? What’s the situation of the land that the cane sits on. Is it your property? Do you have title for it?”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“No, no, no such thing. I do not own no land in Santa Martin. Man, let Emerson Burke bring his proof that I am squatting on his land.”

Reporter

“You are not squatting on his land, you are squatting on land of his client.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“The entire half of Maskall is privately owned. It’s the same thing, I am not squatting on no land, for Emerson or his client.”

Reporter

“If it’s privately owned then squatting is taking place sir.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“I never claimed I was squatting on any land.”

Reporter

“Do you or do you not have lands right now cultivated with sugar cane in Santa Marta?”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“I have some cane in Santa Marta.”

Reporter

“And do you own the land that the cane is currently on?”

Hon. Edmund Castro 

“My friend, the cane that I have in Santa Marta, is cane I bought from people that had those cane there in Santa Marta.”

Reporter

“Sir, you just told us that you cultivate cane in that area.”

Hon. Edmund Castro 

“I said we have cane that I had bought from some people in Santa Marta, yes.”

Reporter

“You purchase cane but you don’t purchase the land, do other people own that land?”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“None of the farmers, I would go as far as saying none of the farmers or very little of them who have 100 of acres of cane own those lands. They have been cultivating those lands for 40 years, so if I buy a patch of cane from them, I buy the patch of cane, I can’t buy the land because they have no title or paper for the land.”

Reporter

“So the accusations that Mr. Burke is making that you are basically participating in the illegal actively that these individuals.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“There’s no such participation in no illegal nothing.”

Reporter

“But sir, they squatted and you go and buy their canes.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“No, no, no. Yes sir, I purchase a patch of cane from them,”

Reporter

“Which is illegally cultivated.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“(Sigh) Man.”

Reporter

“That’s the position sir.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“What we need to do is to go and try to make Emerson deal with the 100 of farmers and shut them down and tell them that as of such a date, they cannot go on the land and cultivate or take care of their cane. If Emerson wants the patch of cane, he can have it.”

Reporter

“Because he has rights to it.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“But he can take it, but he can take it, that’s not a fuss. It’s his, take it! Eat it! Do what you want with it!”

Reporter

“But sir you’re making it sound as though he’s in a wrong for wanting to claim rights to this.”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“There is no wrong, you are trying to pin it one me and then I am saying the entire part of the constituency that grows vegetables are on that plot of land.”

Castro said he tried to organize a meeting with the farmers and Burke to try to settle the matter but that fell through.

Hon. Edmund Castro

“The patch of cane I have in Santa Marta on his land, he can take it. He can take it, he doesn’t even have to give me any compensation for it, right. Those people have been on those lands for umpteen years. I helped him to gather the people together because they are willing and preparing to pay. The don’t want to beat it! They want to pay for it, where else will they go and grow their cane? Where else will the farmers in Bomba and Maskall go and grow their vegetables – to take to the market?”

Reporter

“Sir how do you balance that with the interest of the land owner who has millions of dollars?”

Hon. Edmund Castro

“It’s very simple, the farmers in the Maskall and Bomba area, all the way to Santa Marta would like to sit down and I had tried to put them together so that they can work out what it would take for them to own the piece of land. If the land owner so deserves of selling them the piece of land they have been cultivating for umpteen years. I don’t see nothing wrong with that – as a representative of the people I tried to put that meeting together with Emerson, only to find out that he have ulterior motives. So that’s why I said he is a crazy man because I even got in touch with Eludio Aragon to go and represent your people and see how you can best fight for the people in the Santa Marta area. Because if those people can’t grow their cane tomorrow, we will have riot up there. If they can’t go to their cane field tomorrow, we will have riot up there.”

Minister Castro affirms that he is not squatting and that he is only buying the cane from farmers who are cultivating on land that is not their own.

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