Over twenty families are about to be displaced in the Trio Village in the Toledo District after they were informed that the land their homes have been built upon is the property of a Chinese businessman, who is now looking to claim his property. The villagers are reportedly squatting on the land with a promise from both the PUP and UDP administration that they would be given title to the land. Gaspar Vega, who once served as the Minister of Natural Resources, spoke on the matter.
“I think we processed their papers if we are not mistaken. I know we did it for a village where they had been squatting for a long time then the government had to do the survey and ensure that the people get their papers. I’m not sure if it’s Trio I know we did it for a village but it’s extremely expensive and that is what people have to understand too because these people don’t pay for the survey, the government has to get the resources and I think there are like four villages that were asking for that process to be done but it’s only done what a time as resources come. If they had been squatting on private land that makes it even more challenging for the government because then we have to buy the land from whoever owns it and then give it to the people for free. So I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think the one that we had done was GOB lands so it was less expensive, we just had to pay for the survey and the processing and ensuring that people got their right land.”
Opposition Leader John Briceno, once served as Belize’s Natural Resources Minister and according to him, they had begun the process to address the matter in Trio Village but they did not remain long enough to have the process concluded.
“When I was in government as Minister of Natural Resources we were in Trio and started the process of acquiring 1000 acres of land so that the villagers could stay where they are. I started the process but unfortunately a little bit after that I left as the Minister of Natural Resources and it seems that they never went through with the acquisition. Now I am not shocked to be honest with you to hear that Minister Vega would have allowed something to happen like that because there are countless sad stories about poor Belizeans losing their piece of land in many instances because of petty party politics and probably that is why the Prime Minister decided to change Minister Vega from Natural Resources, I don’t know because the Prime Minister has never said that to me but there have been so many issues in that Ministry that any reasonably thinking Prime Minister would have been forced to make the changes that he did after November 4th of 2015. I think as it is right now the area representative Mike Espat has already been on the ground meeting with the people and pointing out that we in the PUP are going to stand up for them. We are going to defend them and we are going to make sure that the government steps in and if necessary to acquire this land because that is allowed in the law, that you can acquire from private property so that you can reissue to the Belizean people and that is allowable under the law and under the constitution so we are going to stand up for them. Honorable Mike Espat has been working with them and I could assure you that in the next meeting of the National Assembly that is going to come up.”
Love News understands that the property in question was once the Thurton Estate before it was acquired by a businessman who is now giving the villagers the option to either pay twenty thousand dollars or get off the land.