Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020. 3:33 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Accusing the unnamed “organizer” of the May 17 occupation of their property at Mile 44, Cotton Tree, George Price Highway, Cayo District, of “trespass” and misleading statements designed to “wrongly encouraged persons to participate in an illegal attempt to take private property” – from fellow Belizeans, to boot – the Belmopan Land Development Corporation Limited has publicly asserted its claim over the property.
In a statement attributed to the corporation’s directors, represented by former Governor of the Central Bank Glenford Ysaguirre, the company asserts that it is fully Belizean owned and managed, incorporated since January of 1995 and holders of the 2,500-acre property since August 25, 1995 – almost 25 years. The property had been under active private ownership since 1988, and recognized as belonging to the company by various governments and the courts.
The BLDC says that the Commissioner of the Lands Department had written Nigel Petillo (though he is not directly named in the statement but referred to as “the organizer”) on May 11 warning of the private ownership and illegality “of his proposed unsanctioned expropriation,” but he chose to go ahead.
BLDC argues that “trespassing and/or squatting on private property is not legitimate grassroots activism; they are tantamount to stealing. No Belizean owner of any type of property, whether it is land, a house or anything of value should be subjected to this type of strong-arm tactic to dispossess them of their lawful belongings. This type of behavior is a clear violation of a Belizean’s constitutional right to safely own property.” It warns that if necessary, it “will not hesitate to assert its ownership, and will take all relevant steps that the law provides to enforce its rights, as any other reasonable person in a similar situation, would.”
Meanwhile, Petillo who has now formed a LANDS Movement to register persons who do not have property and seek out available sources, says he has found nothing registered in the name of the BLDC as a company, and that he has been officially banned from getting information at the Lands Department, accusing BLDC of being “huge names and cronies involved in a land grab” and authorities of “hiding all relevant information.”
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