There are continued contentions among villagers in San Jose Nuevo Palmar over land. Descendants of the village have accused the current lands committee in the village of mismanagement of the natural resource and even finance. As a result, descendants have decided to elect a new lands committee on August 31.

 

This decision, however, is in itself impulsive as we understand it will be held with or without the blessing of the government which is the lands trustee at the moment. It appears descendants of the village have grown wary of the lengthy process as they feel government is taking too long to call elections.

 

A group started lobbying for the appointment of a new committee earlier in the year and in February this year, Lands Commissioner, Wilbert Vallejos and solicitor General Nigel Hawk, met with the community to discuss the necessary process to take. At the time, a committee was formed with members of the village council and representatives of the elders and community.

 

They should have developed a voters list that would be reviewed in conjunction with the solicitor general’s office and lands department. After that was completed, the date for election would be set. It seemed a simple process to follow, but it turns out that two different groups of descendants could not agree on a list. In an interview with Love News’ Arturo Cantun, Land Commissioner Wilbert Vallejos spoke more about the matter.


Screen_Shot_2014-08-26_at_7.43.07_PMWilbert Vallejos – Commissoner of Lands


“Those same representatives that we deployed and as representatives of the trustees we were able to point out two issues to the group who developed the voters list and so at the same time I have indicated to them that we could not call elections as yet and could not identify a suitable date for election because we were not satisfied with how the list was developed and we were able to say that because we were refereeing to the only agreement that exists as it relates to land with the government of Belize signed with the community basically the two points that were brought out was that the list was developed and it only included first and second generations so clearly there was a situation where third generation was being disenfranchised for the right to vote and the other issue was that when they developed Belize they did not take into consideration the clause in the agreement that talked about absenteeism or members of the community that were living outside of the community and so everybody agree that that was the case and that they were to come together again and they would look and review the list and prepare another one to take into consideration the same things that we have pointed out.”


Vallejos adds that they have received copies of the voters list and are awaiting approval by the Ministry of Natural Resources. But as we mentioned earlier, Village Chair Orlando Balam says the process is taking too long and village descendants are becoming impatient thus the decision to hold elections this weekend. But without the consent and inclusion of the government, the election will not be considered valid, according to Vallejos.


Wilbert Vallejos – Commissoner of Lands


“I don’t know about any election date that the villagers themselves are going to call because there is clear indications following those guidelines how elections ought to be conducted and so far we’ve had an understanding and agreement with the villagers, the representatives of the elders and even the elders themselves of the village council so I am not certain which group now is coming together planning to have an election but I can tell you that since we have received the list we are now in a position to convene another meeting for us to go to that list and basically the guidelines or whatever was indicated in the agreement was followed then the trustee would have a reason why not to approve the list.”


Again, Vallejos says once that list is approved the election can proceed. As for the planned election on Sunday, Vallejos indicated that if such an event is scheduled the government will intervene.

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