GOB Consults With Yemeri Grove and Laguna Villagers Regarding Land Issue
The Government of Belize continues to dialogue with the people of Yemeri Grove and Laguna amid land surveying issues. The villagers expressed apprehension over the potential surveying of the land near the Machaca Reserve in southern Belize. These concerns arose following reports that Toledo West Area Representative, Oscar Requena, was planning to clear a portion of land near the reserve that would be used to distribute land to his constituents. As this situation continues to develop, GOB is embarking on a multi-ministerial consultation process to hear the people’s concerns. The Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, says that so far the conversations have received positive feedback, and the government remains committed to following the proper procedure.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs: “We may not be fully there yet in terms of what we need to do but we will talk until we agree and the process has started. We have had meetings with the Yemeri Grove people, we have had meetings with the Laguna people and of course there is going to be need for compromise and fo understanding and respect going forward. But the process has started and I would like to emphasize not our difference but those things that bring us together. We want development of our country, we want development of the Toledo district and so that is why we need to talk. The response has been good so far because we have involved the lands department and we have involved the forestry department and I hear my colleague Minister Oscar Requena loud and clear that we really need to provide land and lots for first time land owners but we do know that because of the FPIC protocol, the Free Prior Informed Consent Protocol, there is need for consultation. We’re not running from that at all and I have had a very fruitful meeting with Mr.Pabli Mis one of the executives of the Julian Cho Society and a Maya Leader and we are closer together now because of the discussions that we have had but again I want to stress that there will be need for compromise, there will be need for respect and there will be need to really help our people. And Minister Requena has indicated that he will not try to exclusively give land to maybe only one set of people. We want to help Laguna people, we want to help San Marcos people, Yemeri Grove people, Punta Gorda people, wherever it may be and as I say government is committed to the process of consultation and also what we call it DPM the Delimitation Principles and Methodology. We’re committed to that and we will sit down and have further discussions until we can come to a good agreement.”