Laguna Village and Yemeri Grove Land Dispute Escalates Amidst Boundary Confusion

Laguna Village and Yemeri Grove Land Dispute Escalates Amidst Boundary Confusion

The land upset between Laguna Village and Yemeri Grove is an ongoing dispute over land demarcation and village boundaries.  Our news archive reflected several confrontations between villagers as Yemeri residents and leaders are accusing those in Laguna of infringing on the boundaries, and claiming land in Yemeri.  One such confrontation occurred this past weekend that can only be solved or rectified with the intervention and official declaration of the village boundaries.  Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Dolores Balderamos Garcia, was on The Morning Show today where she confirmed that there are no official demarcation of the villages.   

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Rural Development: “Yemeri Grove is a non-Maya village but if you pass on the highway they have a pretty marker, a pretty cementing that says Yemeri Grove but you don’t really see a house by the roadside as such. But the Yemeri Grove people, led by their chairman Herald Usher are saying that is our land. Now there is a boundary dispute. Back in May, gentlemen and people of Belize, back in May the third of May if I’m not mistaken we held a press briefing. We thought, because there had been a flare up, so we had a press briefing and we basically asked all the parties concerned to hold it down because there is a boundary dispute. Right. Yemeri Grove are saying that is my land, Laguna saying that is my land. So what we did was, number one in our press briefing we said to the people okay the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice has not given the Maya people entire carte blanche. Because if you are going to have a problem with the delimitation of boundaries, and if there is going to be a boundary dispute, then the Maya people ought not to say “that is my land and that is the end of it.” because the government has a responsibility. So back in May, at our press briefing, we asked everybody to hold it down, and we requested please.”

With Minister Balderamos-Garcia confirming the absence of official village delineation, the government has decided to establish a quick response team that would de-escalate any further tensions in the area.

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Rural Development: “There’s going to be a meeting with the parties. We don’t want to come with a heavy hand. Since Monday, we have met with the Commissioner of Police. We have decided as a government that we will have what we call like a quick response team. Because it is necessary to have the Lands Department involved. Minister Cordell has given full support. We have the full support from Minister Karem and the Commissioner of Police and we’ll make sure that we operationalize that if I could put it that way. But coming back to the issue of the land Ernesto, and it is a fair question, what is going to happen and how quickly? That’s a very fair question.  Yes, it’s all about boundaries. We’ll have to set them, but we can’t just get in there with a heavy hand and say this the line. We have to consult with communities, and we have to say, look free title land holding under the common law system that’s one thing that we know about. We’re not so certain the extent of the Maya customary Land Tenure rights. We’re not quite as certain. But what the Court of Appeal has recently said is that you can’t have the two at the same time it’s either one or the other. So parties will have to respect each other and the government will have to find a way to balance that.”

According to Minister Balderamos-Garcia, the Caribbean Court of Justice has urged the government to act swiftly on taking action when it comes to the communal lands.

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