BYGEA says it continues to have major problems with the Ministry of Natural Resources. The grassroot organization responsible for the Harmonyville settlement says the delay of the processing of land documents of over a thousand plots has been frustrating to say the least. BYGEA also claims that the Ministry has misplaced over two hundred land documents that were already processed. The C.E.O of the Ministry of Natural Resources has said that these allegations are not true. President of BYGEA Nigel Petillo and David Barnett were guests on PlusTV’s Morning Show this week and told us that they have proof of corruptive activities in the ministry.
NIGEL PETILLO – President BYGEA:
This is just one document of dozens of documents that are signs of This is a document where the Lands Department put 103.9 acres of land into a lady’s name, a married woman’s name, somewhere in Cayo. She found out about this, because a tax sheet came to her home. Keep in mind that this tax sheet never meant to reach her. Nobody know it, until the mail came and said you have a tax what you need to pay $16,895 for 103 acres of land. We at BYGEA, the poor people, would have had to pay $103,000 for that 103 acres, while this person get to pay $16,895 for 103 acres. This is the purchace price for 103 acres. This is from Lands Department. This is signed by Mr Vallejos, Lands Department, who say they never did this. By the time they found out about this, it was already transferred and sold to another individual. When they start to raise issues now, Lands greet them back with a next letter, which says you are now no longer the holder of this land, we cancel this whole transaction. But they make a mistake again. When they address this thing to this person, they forgot and mailed it to the man who get the land. And then the date, they cancel this thing out July 16th, when it done go out May 28th of the same year. So I’m just showing you. This is corruption at its highest level at Lands Department. Not only that, it show you again where the value system is not fair. This lady don’t even know what’s going on. By the time she reach the lands it’s too late, she can’t get nothing back. She was advised by her lawyers to go and pay the tax, claim that land. When she thought that she could claim this land, done gone. So a JP now, a Justice of the Peace, who should have been the neutral body, the Government’s representative is saying that I witnessed this transaction, this face of this idea and this name was in front of me, and the face on the ID was in front of me.
BGYEA is not alone when it comes to land issues – as we found out on Monday’s Rise and Shine show. Several communities called in to share about land issues in their communities.
I’m Maurice Westby. We have an association in Blackburn. We have applied twice. The first time we applied for 100 acres, but when we applied they told us that’s too much. We have to apply for 25, because Cabinet has to approve the hundred just like one of you. So we went now, filled out for 25, put affidavit attached. A JP have to sign, because they don’t want the Chairman of the Village or the Lots Committee to sign, because they say that that’s not valid. The Area Rep has to recommend it. So we got all the recommendation for members or members came in. We paid another $5 and that has been three years now. We heard nothing. We keep following up – nothing. I follow up and I say “What’s happening?” [They said] “Your file is still here in Belize City.”
I have called in on many occasions about that Racetrack. That Racetrack belongs to the people of Burrell Boom, that is the point I’m trying to make. And it was taken away from my thousand dollars. They need to get it back in the hands of the community of Burrell Boom. Five thousand dollars that whole Racetrack are for the people of Burrell Boom, and the community needs to get it back.
RODNEY BANNER – Chairman, Lemonal Village:
We have a long-standing land dispute in Lemonal, since this village was formed 250 years ago. No villagers have any title to their land. We’ve been fighting and trying for many, many years, my grandfather, everyone, and nobody has a Land Title to their land. As the Chairman I’ve been in Lemonal for the second term now, and I’ve been trying with the Government, to try to resolve this issue, and it can not be resolved.
I’m calling from PG, Leela Vernon from the . We have this problem down here as well as anywhere else. We were the native people of this country. Four years ago we gone to the Prime Minister, that time it was under Mussa, and we got 985 acres of land in Southern Belize here, for Poverty Alleviation Project, so that we could only get one part of the European [Union] Poverty Alleviation Project. But we own land, we couldn’t do nothing. We have problem because what happened to this land, according to the Mayans [it’s Mayan traditional lands]. Near Tambran there’s an area close to New River. When I got back there, I gone a Lands Department in Punta Gorda, they say that there are no documents.
PATRICK ANDREWS – Co-host, Eyes on the Nation:
The people are calling form PG. Imagine.
LOUIS WADE – Eyes on the Nation Host;
[We got callers from] Crooked Tree, Ranchito, Xaibe Bay, Lemonal, Harmonyville, More Tomorrow, Burrell Boom, Dangriga – the whole Riverside thing with the Mayor, and then now we add to that the PG Kriol Association.
Meanwhile, people from all over the country have ‘unfinished business’ with the Ministry as several viewers called in to the talk show to share their personal grievances. Here are just a few of those issues.
I’m calling from San Pedro. I see people get discouraged to even think about getting a land. If you have so much thousand dollars, you could buy a land.
[My land is locked in] and my papers show that it’s an ally that I can pass, and they lock it.
Then there are those callers who say they have been trying to get a piece of land for years – all to no avail.
I have this thing going on. I applied for a piece of land, to do a Herbal Retreat. It’s down in the Baranco area. I applied from 2005. The application from never left Punta Gorda Lands Department yet.
It’s taken us almost 7 years, and up to now only me, I have gotten the purchase price, which I am paying now. And my dad took me to his one as well, and up to now he hasn’t received his purchase price, and we put it in at the same time.
I just want to say that I’m from Belmopan. I have five grandchildren in Belmopan, and I still live in my father’s house. I can’t get a piece of land through no party, no administration.
BYGEA will be holding a national demonstration at the steps of the National Assembly next week Tuesday and they invite all persons who are having problems with the Ministry of Natural Resources to join them.