Earlier this week, the Attorney General of Belize and Area Representative for Pickstock , Hon. Wilfred Elrington, made some interesting statements about the village of Cotton Tree, claiming that the village itself is exclusively located on the right hand side of the road when travelling in a Northerly direction. Here is what he told the media in that interview.
“I need lots for the residents of Pickstock. That complaint largely fell on deaf ears. So, I had a very dear friend of mine (a Taiwanese client) that I have known for 20-25 years who owned in excess of 200 acres of land, right across the highway from the village of Cotton Tree, not part of the village of Cotton Tree because the village of Cotton Tree is exclusively on the right hand side of the highway when you are going down to Belize City. When you pass the village of Cotton Tree area, you don’t see any construction on the left hand side, only on the right hand side that is in the village of Cotton Tree. I persuaded him to sell that piece of land to the government, specifically so that the people of Pickstock could get some lots. That is what happened. It had nothing to do with the village of Cotton Tree; it was private property, belonging to Ramon Sing, from whom I got the government to purchase, so that the people of Pickstock could get the lots”.
However, on yesterday’s Rise and shine show, a resident of the village of Cotton claims that the first community centre and the first school were located on that the other side of the road. She says she was confounded by the Minister’s statement.
“I heard the remarks from Minister Elrington about that piece of land in Cotton Tree village. I don’t know if he is aware that our first community center was situated across the highway and our first school building. My grandparents have lived there on that very parcel of land. They did not own it; it was privately owned. Former chairman Mr. Coye has always been trying to acquire that land. He even went as to distribute them himself, and he got a letter from Elrington apparently to cease and retreat because this is private property. I am not disputing that he village council never has has control over these lands because they were private lands, but they are in our village. You know I felt this sort of some physical sick. When I heard this, it is just adding insult to injury because you know you just can’t just bring problems or something, and for the Attorney General to want to bi-pass the Village Council Act by saying that this land is not in Cotton Tree”.
We called the Chairman of the Village in an attempt to get the matter clarified; and according to the Chairman, the village borders with the village of More Tomorrow and extends far beyond the immediate road side.
“The borderline crosses somewhere going to More Tomorrow. All of that, we are certain, it is Cotton Tree. That is why we the community, when they were surveying, everyone thinks that it is not right that someone from outside comes here to do whatever they want here without consulting with the village council. It has been proven that this area is Cotton Tree”.
The dispute over the land distributed to non village residents, without the consultation of the village council, is being challenged at court. Last week Monday, we saw the first hearing of the Cotton Tree Village Council and the Ministry of Natural Resources. The case resumes on September 15th.