Construction of football field in Arenal Village still causing problems

Last week we gave you a preview to an ongoing problem in Arenal Village due to the construction of a football field. As promised, we bring you the second vlcsnap-2013-02-21-18h33m24s207part to that story.  The footage you are seeing is that of the football field located in Arenal Belize and neighbouring Guatemala. It could be considered the infamous “artificial border” which Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Wilbert Elrington had made mention of; that’s because half of this field is in Guatemala and the other half lies in Belizean territory. The football field has become an item of controversy between the neighbouring villages, as half is in Guatemala and half is in Belize. Lucio Sanchez, Chairman of Arenal is developing a complete football field within the Belizean community.

Lucio Sanchez – Chairman of Arenal:
vlcsnap-2013-02-21-18h34m07s134Since the history of Arenal, which is more than 120 years, there has never been a football field.  The only field that Arenal has is the football field that is over there to the back, and half of it is in Belize, while the other half is in Guatemala. Everyone in the country believe that we live in peace here at Arenal and think that all is well with the people on the other side, but not so.  It has been the focus of a constant problem here.

In doing so, Sanchez has allegedly broken down and burnt the house of Belizean Sara Marisol Laura. Laura is the mother of three young children and her mother also lives along with them.

Sara Marisol Laura:
vlcsnap-2013-02-21-18h34m58s126From since 1992 they gave me the piece of land and then I built my house on it, and i have proof of witness. The same witnesses also know that I have never abandoned the land.  I always keep it clean, and when I have no money to pay rent at my other home, then I return to my home in Arenal.  I can’t afford the rent, and right now I have nowhere else to stay. It’s almost 15 years since I have been here, and that is a lot of time.  My youngest child is only one year old, and since then I have been coming and going to Benque for work, as I have no one to maintain me. I want justice, and I want him to pay me all the loss that has been done here, as a lot of hard work went into it.

Sanchez  maintains though, that the land is Public property and has been designated for a football field.

Lucio Sanchez – Chairman of Arenal:
In the past administration they give a piece of land to Bernardo Sanchez, and right beside there they left space to construct a football field.  Now the lots that you guys see there, since that time the lady has been squatting there, and those are public lands.  They have been designated for the football field.

And while the Chairman says that he notified Laura that she would need to relocate; Laura says not so, according to her at no time has Sanchez spoken to her about moving.

Sara Marisol Laura:
At no point in time did the Chairman come to me and say that I need to remove my stuff from the house. Yes, I did get a message from the Chairman, vlcsnap-2013-02-21-18h34m39s163telling me to come and get some of my things as they were going to use the machines to grade the area. I don’t think that’s a normal thing to do. I was sitting down with my friends at home the day when they started grading thew corner, and so I questioned them about papers for the work which they had been doing, as I had not signed any papers or given authority for anyone to come on my property.  What they did to me is unfair.  It’s sabotage.

Granted the land is public property, the question we wanted answered was who gave Lucio Sanchez the authority to remove Laura’s house.

Lucio Sanchez – Chairman of Arenal:
What we are simply doing is fulfilling the decision of the community.  This is a necessity.  This is not up for discussion. This is not my idea.  This is not what I wanted to do. It is a necessity for the community.  This is a public area.  There are no papers for the land, as it has not been surveyed out into lots. If it was lots for them, then she would have had papers for it.

Who told you that you could do this?  

Lucio Sanchez – Chairman of Arenal:
I have orders from above.  We have the Minister of the Area’s approval.  The Minister is Hon. Erwin Contreras.  He is working and making things happen in this area.  if you want, you can go and check with the Lands Department

We have tried contacting Erwin Contreras to get his comments on the matter however we were told that he was not available.

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