Back in 2014, the Cotton Tree Village Council took the government to court over 254 lots in the village that the government acquired and was planning to share among eight UDP constituencies. The villagers were adamant that the land is theirs and consent was not gained before acquiring the lots. While the case went through the court proceedings, according to Cayo South Representative, Julius Espat, there is still no judgement delivered. This, he stated, is proof that the judiciary system has failed.
Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South: “The Chairman of Cotton Tree and the elected councilors have had a case in the courts since 2015 and the court case is over with and we haven’t gotten a judgment from the Chief Justice so we have written back and again we are again taking it to court. It is ridiculous that our judicial system takes so long for these important and precedent setting cases and they don’t give you a judgement. So you could start to try to blame a person like a judge but the whole system is flawed. If you’re taking four years to get a judgment you know, the case has gone through the system already and so it could be a lack of financing, it could be a lack of interest, it could be that the system is politicized I don’t know but I have been personally experiencing it that you don’t get a judgment and so how can you even appeal something if you don’t get a judgment ?”
Espat also commented on other situations that farmers in Cayo South have had to deal with.
Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South: “We had a situation with the sugar cane company at one time Santander where we had I think it was like thirty odd – forty farmers that had an issue with land, that one we negotiated and managed to put a team together who managed to get some attorneys to assist us, we convinced the farmers to form an association so they worked as one voice under one umbrella. We explained to Santander at the time how it would be beneficial to them to cooperate with the farmers and in the end the farmers got 160 acres and it was done communally, it wasn’t 160 acres divided up into various titles it was one title. There’s another issue right now with farmers in the Valley of Peace again with another company that will take a longer period of time because you have to find out who is right and who is wrong. You have that farmers need land we are aware of that and you balance that with people that own land and so how do you balance something that one side has a need and one side has a title ? The only entity that can solve that is government there is nobody else. In this case we have seen some proposals from the company that to me seems going in the right direction. They’re offering the farmers I think up to 500 acres that’s a lot of land but what they’re asking the farmers is if I have my farm land here of 10,000 acres can you relocate three or four or five that are in the center of where I plant I will provide land in a side that is of equal value, equal size that is arable land so that I can not have conflict of machinery along with human beings and you can get your piece of land. We are in that stage right now.”