Ongoing Land Issues in Armenia Affects Farmers

Yesterday we told you about the water shortage which the Village of Armenia has been facing; today we will tell you about an ongoing land issue within that community. The village chairman of any community has the authority and responsibility to issue land to its villagers. However such is not the case in Armenia. Mr. Cruz Cal, a local of Armenia, is the Chairman of the Lands Committee which is supported by seven other members. This group of eight has been giving out parcels of lands without approval of the Village Chairman and without notifying him as to who the lands are being given out to.

Orestes Sho – Armenia Village Chairman:
vlcsnap-2013-04-25-22h02m21s205The present concern right now in the village is, I understand that Government allocated 2,000 acres of land for Armenia.  The ex-Area Representative came in and assured and promised us that this is going to be for Armenia.  It didn’t go that way, because I tried to ask the Chairman for the Lands Committee to give me the names or at lease something in writing to say how many people are now in Armenia, or new land leases or whatsoever. But he refuses to do it.  I have a copy of a letter that I sent to him [saying] that we really need to meet with him.  He text me back and said, “Right now we don’t have no time because it’s too in a hurry, and you need to give me more time.”

Orestes says that in addition to him not being informed the parcels land being given away, have been worked for years by the farmers of Armenia and is now being taken away from then and given to persons who are not even of the Village.

Orestes Sho – Armenia Village Chairman:
vlcsnap-2013-04-26-20h38m48s26There’s a group of farmers that came to me, and they said right now presently they are issuing farmland in the bushes, and people that have been working there for so many years, poor people, it’s not rich people, and they take away the parcels of land that have been cleaned already, give it to people who don’t even know about farming.  So there is where my discontent came about.  If it was given to the farmers I don’t have any problem.  I understand the Chairman for the Lands Committee, which he doesn’t know farming.  What’s farming?  I understand he has a big plot of land.  The ones that are working there, they only get five acres, two acres, three acres.

Plusnews spoke with Rigoberto; one of the farmers who’s land was recently taken away from him.

Rigoberto – Farmer:
vlcsnap-2013-04-26-20h40m34s44The problem is that we rent the land from a company and from the beginning we have been paying the company. I have been paying rent for 13 acres  of land and now the lands chairman has put in place unfair regulations and to me that is unjust. The other problem is that he came and took some of the land for himself and gave the remaining land, to whoever he feels like giving it to. He also came and destroyed my grains. 

Rigoberto says that they also cut down his peppers, corn and destroyed his watering well and he was never formally informed by anyone prior to his land being given away.

Rigoberto – Farmer: 
vlcsnap-2013-04-26-20h39m09s211They did not give me back any of my land. The only took it from me and did not tell me anything and the only reason I know is because somebody came and explained to me that this side is mine and the other side is yours. I’m still in shock of it all as nobody has come to fully explain the situation to me and all I only remain with about 6 acres of land now.

Plus news also spoke with another farmer off camera who says that he has been working his land for twenty years now and was told by Lands Chairman Mr. Cruz Cal that he need to move.

Farmer:
vlcsnap-2013-04-26-20h39m44s62When they moved me from the area, they only told me that I need to leave the place and I lost and lot of plants and seeds. Now somebody else has given a small piece of land to work on so that I’m able to buy and plant my seeds however I did not buy the land but I need to work and so I started to plant and I now have corn and other vegetables. Now they have started to survey and make roads and they have destroyed a lot of plants in the area. They never gave me any piece they only told me that I need to abandon the land as I have no legal rights there.

Village Chairman Orestes Sho says that the whole situation has been a frustrating one for him and that he’s made numerous arrangements to meet with Hon. Gaspar Vega and Prime Minister Dean Barrow but he has been given the run around.

Orestes Sho – Armenia Village Chairman:
When I see things started to go bad I would try to go visit the Office of the Lands. Several times me and my next member Mr Miguel Chuck we went.  We were told that, “Oh, you can’t see [him] because he hasn’t come in as yet till 9 o’clock, till 10 o’clock,” “Oh, he gone a funeral.” “Oh, today he no do come in.”  They know who am I.  They’re trying to block me.  I made an appointment three weeks in advance.  When the time has reached I went up there to see the Minister.  They send me with a young lady.  I explained to her what is going on in Armenia.  He response was, “Don’t worry.  Mr Ramon Wittz knows what he’s doing.  He is doing the best for the village,”  She start to give me all of Romon Wittz’s promises.  Then I had to give up because I don’t know where else to go.  I made an appointment to see the Prime Minister.  I tried to go in and I was stopped by the security, so where else to go, I don’t know.

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