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Land Dispute in More Tomorrow Village

In July of 2012, US developer Joseph Martin claimed that he had purchased five hundred acres of land in More Tomorrow Village. The problem was that many village residents were also claiming ownership of the land saying it was allocated to them after being acquired by the government from a Chinese company. They added that they were already working towards obtaining their land titles. But Martin began developing the land and had reportedly obtained a valid land title.  Not long after, the Prime Minister said it would be sorted out but warned that it wouldn’t be to everyone’s satisfaction.  Fast forward five years after, and we are told now that that matter remains unsolved.  Julius Espat, Area representative for Cayo South gave us an update on that matter.

Julius Espat, Area Representative: “It is a basic issue of access to land. In this situation, you have about 25-30 families that have been farming a piece of land on the opposite side of the river in More Tomorrow. They have been doing it for the last 40 years. Subsequent governments have not been able to give access to a title. The Laws of Belize are quite clear, if somebody squats on a piece of land and it’s private land for 12 years they have a right to access to the title of that land because for the twelve years if the person that owns the land does not see it fit to tell them to come off or does anything to take them off it means that the person has no interest in that land and has abandoned it for so long. The landowner had tried to evict them and the government made a decision in 2007-2008 that they could not evict them and the government sent a letter to the farmers telling them that they would look into the situation and try to acquire the land on their behalf and it stayed there nobody has taken it any further. To do it you have two ways, you do it through the legal means of going through the courts which we all understand can take forever or government can make a decision and say ‘Boss I will acquire the land on behalf of these people.’ and so they will say they can’t afford to do so but if you can afford to spend $40 million dollars on a stadium in Belize City and you can afford to spend $8 million dollars on a mile of road then how can you not afford to facilitate X amount of acreage for over 200 people that is how I see it.”