Outcry in Succotz Village as 200-Year-Old Tree Chopped Up

Outcry in Succotz Village as 200-Year-Old Tree Chopped Up

A piece of history for Succotz Village, Cayo District, was tampered with over the weekend, and has left villagers upset.  The amputation of a tree that is over 200 years old was limbed on Saturday with no prior notice or consultation to the village leaders.  Reporter Kendra Romero has the story.

Kendra Romero, Love News: For the regular passerby the tree that once loaned shade and beauty at the entrance of Succotz village may have had no value. For the old and young who have made this rural community their home for decades the tree that once stood tall and wide was iconic with an intrinsic value. It was a symbolic welcome home and a landmark for the residence but on Saturday November 18 the tree was severely limbed with no notice or consultation with those in the community. Many have expressed displeasure and disappointment in the decision to amputate a tree that has stood for over two hundred ears. Among those persons are the former Director of Health Services Dr.Marvin Manzanero who took to social media to say that it isn’t simply just a tree. Well known Historian and former parliamentarian Don. Hector Silva was also vocal on the dismemberment of the tree.

Don Hector Silva, Belize Historian: “I don’t know exactly who. Some say it was to widen the road others say to put electricity that already exists right nearby. I am not sure of that but my view is this, that when anything will be done in a village and I am speaking as a former minister of local government anything that will be done in a village should be with their consent or first they should be informed. That tree there is not a common tree. It wasn’t a bukut tree. It wasn’t a cedar tree. It was a unique Succotz tree, a tree that has seen the history of Succotz for many many years. So I am right now wondering what will be the official reply. I want to see what will be the official reply on what was done. To me it was trespassing into the jurisdiction of the village council of Succotz.”

Kendra Romero, Love News: Area representative for Cayo West Jorge Milin Espat was also vocal on the issue. According to Espat there should be a permit issued for such actions.

Jorge Espat, Cayo West Area Representative: “It’s a historic tree two hundred and fifty years old. Such a historic tree was limbed without any notification, consultation to the constituency, to the village council since it is a village it’s in San Jose Succotz and likewise I had issued a press release that I am in full support of the villagers and residents of my constituency that is in San Jose Succotz. A sad case since the historic tree is a symbol for the village.”

Kendra Romero, Love News: The ire of the villagers was on full display on Monday night as they set a pile of tires on fire at the entrance of the village. It was a display of their anger and displeasure. Among those angry residents was the chairlady Cheryl Cocom.

Sheryl Cocom, Succotz Chairlady: “I am with a few of my angry villagers at the entrance of San Jose Succotz. Currently we were just advised that – well we were not advised that our Succotz tree was going to be cut. As you all know this is an iconic and symbolic and has a very long history in regards to this tree so I’m calling on the company that was sent to do this please respond to your actions now.”

Kendra Romero, Love News: Reporting for Love News I am Kendra Romero. 

The Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) has since responded to the Succotz villagers, extending apologies to the community for any grievances caused by the recent clearing of trees in the area. According to the company, the clearing of the trees was done in preparation for an essential power line relocation on the George Price Highway from Victor Gálvez Roundabout in San Ignacio Town to the entrance of Benque Viejo Town. The release goes on to state, quote, “Understanding the significance of the natural environment and the integral role that the Succotz Tree plays in the community, BEL acknowledges the legitimate concerns that have arisen due to these activities. At this time, our team is gathering the facts and meeting with community leaders to find a solution that respects the environment and is beneficial to all stakeholders involved.”  End of quote.  Love News understands that the relocation of the power line is being done to accommodate a road rehabilitation being done under the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing (MIDH).

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