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We have been following the story of the descendants of San Jose Nuevo Palmar as they work towards the reelection of a lands committee they find efficient in administering their land entrusted to them by their ancestors and a committee they can trust. The situation grew out of hand earlier this year when disgruntled villagers moved to remove the existing lands committee primarily on the grounds of land and financial mismanagement. Since then the government, which is the trustee, intervened and commenced the process of resolving the matter by first ensuring that due process is followed in reelecting a new lands committee. It proved a rather lengthy process which almost ended in villagers conducting the reelection without the trustee’s participation. Today however, further conflict was avoided as government finally met with the villagers to set that date. Dalila Ical has more on the story.

Dalila Ical – Reporting

After the group comprised of elders, villagers and the Village Council developed a voters list, the Lands Department and Solicitor General have sanctioned that list. Lands Commissioner Wilbert Vallejos says they also set a date for reelecting a new lands committee in a short meeting with the villagers this morning.

wilbertWilbert Vallejos – Commissioner of Lands

“So the election date has been set for the 5th of October, everybody has agreed and everybody will prepare for that event.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter

“How big is this list and how satisfied are you with it?”

Wilbert Vallejos – Commissioner of Lands

“Well, I am satisfied if the villagers are satisfied and like I said when we commissioned the group we took into consideration the various groups within the village that had concerns and we felt that putting them together to work was a very good beginning because while they were having their differences they came together and they work together as a matter of fact I have a list here that clearly shows the family trees something that we didn’t had before and we have now to keep in our files, the list is about 475 if I am not mistaken members that the members of the three groups diligently put together and so I am wuite satisfied with what happened.”

Village Chair Orlando Balam, says this is something they have been looking forward to.

Orlando Balam – Village Chairman

“Estamos satisfechos de que por fin no, por fin llegaron a la aldea y no tuvimos que llegar al punto de llegar más lejos de hace un demostración por estábamos decididos por que necesitábamos esto lo más pronto.”

This is the first big step made within the village to resolving land issues there. The hope is to have a lands committee that will be transparent in all transactions and land matters.

Orlando Balam – Village Chairman

“Antes lo que hacían solo es una juntita entre ocho de ellos y allí se hacía una decisión para todo los desentiendes y lo que se quiere es cambiar ese sistema y poner un grupo que sea claro con todos los desentiendes.  Lo que sea que se venga del fondo de dinero que se pueda usar específicamente para el desarrollo de esta aldea.”

There are three seats available for the committee to be complete and Balam says that six persons are contesting these. Once the body is elected the concerns and complaints can be adequately addressed and the village land can finally be distributed among true descendants of the village founders.

Orlando Balam – Village Chairman

“Palmar abarca, sus boundaries está donde está el bypass y se va hasta pegar al rio a donde está el puente que se hizo y eso abarca el Luisiana Area el boundary que llega hasta Prosser y se va hasta llegar a Cuello Site todos esos áreas y le falta que se distribuya a los descendientes un promedio de 1200 acres eso es lo que falta, pues para que este mismo comité que se va  a elegir es el que va a distribuir sabiamente lo que falta.”

This process says Vallejos, has served to bring together a once divided community, adding that as the trustee, government does not intend to abandon them in their goal.

Wilbert Vallejos – Commissioner of Lands

“They have just a while ago requested or recommended that we work even closer now after the establishment of the Lands Committee for guidance for advice and for the way forward.”

Vallejos says that the guidance they provide villagers may include training laws and administration.

The land available for distribution in San Jose Nuevo Palmar is designated solely for descendants of the village founders.

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