Land Dispute Emerges in “Better in Belize Community”: Residents Call for Government Intervention
There’s a land dispute brewing in an area known as “Better in Belize Community” in the Cayo District. The community was opened in 2010 by a Canadian national in the Vaca Dam Reserve area, and eventually became the home to several persons; many of whom conduct tours in the reserve. However, the road they have used for years to access the river is being blocked by a foreign developer who says he owns the land where the road passes. The incident has led to residents calling on the government to intervene so they can return to business. Jose Martinez, the owner of Martz Tree House, spoke about the issue and how it is hampering local operators like him.
Jose Martinez, Owner, Marta Tree House: “In the last three years, this man, the new manager to a development called Better in Belize, you know which is a Canadian owned development basically told me they’re going to stop me from accessing these roads, you know, which are old logging roads that were built by Don Emilio Awe in the 1950s. So after that, I’ve been using them, like I said, since I’m 12 years old you know under the jungle. Now, when the Mollejon Dam got built about 32 years ago they reopened these logging tracks to access the river because they were looking for different points where to access the river. So the old logging tracks were the ones that they would access and those logging tracks were the ones I used to use to do my tours. Now, recently here in the last basically two and a half / three weeks, they basically put a chain across the road and the developer from Canada from Belize Mountain Resort, which is the same developer from VIP, sent us a message saying that we’re not allowed to access the river anymore through that road which are old logging roads. Now that has put a real hamper on my business because I can’t access my pontoon boats and do my tours anymore and that’s how I make a living, you know to put food on the table to send my kids to school and all that. So that has arisen to now being a problem where we had to get the BTB involved and other parties who can hopefully help us to get this situation you know to amicable solution.”
Love News understands that yesterday the parties met with the Lands Department and the Belize Tourism Board, but a solution was not met. Martinez says that they are not asking for much, just access to the road that has been used by residents for decades.
Jose Martinez, Owner, Marta Tree House: “Well realistically you know all I need is access to the river. I don’t know how amicable these people are because at first you know when they came and bought the land and started their development they said to me that I would never have trouble accessing the river through there you know but that has changed and what’s interesting too I have a little resort called Mart’s Farm and their first investors that they had for Better in Belize which is the adjacent land to the Belize Mountain Resorts they would bring them here through my farm to show them how we live and how we make a living you know and we had guests here and I had an old friend that lived here so they pitched that as a good retirement area for people as well you know and now for them to turn around and do this to me after they have you know, basically planted themselves there, I find that very unfair and unfortunate.”
Our newsroom will continue to follow this development.