By Benjamin Flowers
The Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA) and the Government of Belize have resolved the dispute over planting corn in the buffer zone of the mile 41 community known as Harmonyville.
BGYEA President, Nigel Petillo, told The Reporter this week that in the resolution the government made concessions while the association agreed on some forebearances.
“BGYEA agreed not to plant corn in the buffer, while the government agreed that keeping the buffer clean is their responsibility and they will do that three times a year,” Petillo said.
He added that as a part of the settlement, the government agreed to drop the trespassing charges against BGYEA and its members and also agreed to giving agricultural assistance to them.
The association has identified some reserve land in the community amounting to some 75 acres that can be used for agricultural purposes.
Petillo also said that the community still has the pressing issue of roads which need to be built in the community, however it remains a topic of negotiation between BGYEA and the government.
In April 2014, BGYEA requested the aid of the government in removing some squatters from out of the community’s buffer zone, which the association was required at the time to keep clean.
The government assisted but when it discovered in May that BGYEA was preparing to plant corn in the community as a way to derive the revenues needed for the buffer’s upkeep, the government obtained an injunction from the courts to bar any development in the area.
The issue went to the Supreme Court and after several visits, Justice Courtenay Abel ordered that the parties go into mediation. The parties also had several problems with the mediation, including GOB not sending a representative and some discord with choosing a mediator.
The dispute was settled after being sent to mediation for a third time.