Challenges is Issuing Land Titles in Maya Communal Land Areas
And on the topic of land, we asked Area Representative for Toledo West Oscar Requena about his challenges in issuing land titles to his constituents. The area that Requena represents falls within the scope of Maya communal land and the F-PIC procedures. Requena says giving land to residents who need it is easier said than done.
Hon.Oscar Requena, Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Local Government and Labour: “It’s a very difficult task. It’s not easy because the truth of the matter is that on a daily basis you know our constituents come to us and they’re requesting they want house lots. They have a family, they want to build their homes, many of them are farmers and they do not have a piece of land so the request is enormous. I represent a constituency that falls within the communal land rights and as you know the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled in 2015 that these communities have a legal basis to their claim, that they are the owners of the land and as such charged government with the responsibility to find a way to carry out the consent order. And I must say that as a government for the last two years we have been very much engaged in this process to the point where currently we are working on a land policy to address those issues, to address the implementation of the CCJ’s consent court order. It’s challenging because many of our constituents want their land now, many of them want their documents so it’s a question of how do you balance ? There are some communities for example in my constituency who openly say you know what we’re fine, we want our communal land, we want to demarcate our land and we want to have the authority to be able to determine how those lands are going to be used, how we are going to go about ensuring that we bring development to our communities and we have to respect that. While there are other communities who say you know what we want our individual land titles. We want our paper. And again we have to respect them, we have to work with them. So it’s a matter of that balancing act and I believe that in the process of going forward you know government looking at the whole land policy for Toledo and southern Belize where we have other Mayan communities in terms of the legislation that we are going to put in place to be able to establish that legal basis that all those considerations have to be taken into account. We know for example that within the communal Maya land there are many third party land owners who also have land title and the Constitution of Belize guarantees the right to property to all Belizeans so those things have to be taken into account. So it’s an ongoing process. It’s not easy. I can say to you that it’s a very complex process.”