This week the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA) was due back in court with the Government to continue mediation sessions.
Following the postponement of a session scheduled for November 26, the two parties were back today – or BGYEA was.
The Government failed to show, risking contempt of court.
It leaves the developers of the Harmonyville Agricultural Project at Mile 41 of the George Price Highway frustrated.
BGYEA president Nigel Petillo spoke to our colleagues at LOVE FM.
“This mediation was actually scheduled for November 26th. That was earlier this week. We came for the mediation, but the Government ‘s representative didn’t show. There was a later extention to that mediation, which would have been for today, November 28th., 2 p.m.
We are here again. We’ve been back and forth, trying to comply with this mediation process, wanting this mediation process to work. Mediation is actually an act of goodwill. I mean, we want to work out this thing the right way. We don’t want any regrets. We want no quarrel or anything. We want to put this together for the betterment.
So we are disapointed to see that today the Government did not show up.”
NigelPetillo is likewise rankled by the change of attorney from Nigel Hawke of the Solicitor General’s office to Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams, partner of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
He says it represents a missed opportunity for the Government to show the project the respect they feel is sorely lacking.
Nigel Petillo – President of BGYEA
“Why is it that we can’t sit down with both representatives and meet [on] neutral grounds? Now it seems as if though we are set for trial now, because since mediatiion didn’t work out, it means we are to meet for court on Monday, December first.
So there’s no indication from the Government side to say, ‘We want this thing to work out. We want to see how we can work with Harmonyville and the idea of building its own revenue, and building this community.’
So, it’s not about wanting to seem disreapectful, or just about planting corn here, it’s about building dialogue, communicating for the betterment of our people and for country by extention.
So, yes, we are disapointed that the Government didn’t choose the route which was sanctioned by the Courts as well. This is a court-ordered mediation. However, by the Government not being here today, I guess means we’re going to trial. I guess this means more money out of the taxpayers’ purse, because high profile lawyers like Roderick Williams cost two thousand dollars per hour and more, to prosecute the idea of wanting to do for ourselves.”
The two sides will be back to court on Monday, December 1.
Meanwhile, we have received reliable reports that a house is being built and corn being planted in the disputed road reserve between the George Price Highway and the Harmonyville Agricultural Subdivision.
When we spoke to him earlier this week, Mr Petillo, beyond confirming the information, declined to respond to the reports, saying he would prefer to wait until the case goes back to court.
BGYEA’s attorney, Audrey Matura-Shepherd told us she had heard the reports as well, but said she would need to investigate before commenting further.
The acknowledged proprietors of Harmonyville, BGYEA, is at present in mediation with the Government of Belize by order of the Supreme Court, after its own plan to plant corn in the area was nixed by an injunction brought in the court.
Though this injunction has since been lifted, BGYEA has agreed in good faith not to do any work in the area, as the matter is being resolved.
BGYEA has long had issues with immigrants living in the area who have been resistant to moving, but Nigel Petillo would not say to us if they are responsible for the latest construction in the disputed area.