By Marion V. Ali, Staff Reporter
The well-advertised ‘Plant the Corn’ rally, an initiative planned by BGYEA (Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association) drew a crowd of not more than 400 on Saturday, but its attendees came from a wide cross-section of Belize’s society.
Nigel Petillo, BGYEA’s president and brainchild behind the effort told The Reporter during the rally that he knows it will take time for the masses to latch onto the idea of this kind of activity over national issues. “This is an opportunity to send those messages to the government…there’s a lot that we’re faced with right now,” Petillo added. While he feels that every Belizean should own a piece of land, he pointed to information that suggests that 80 percent of Belize is owned by foreigners.
Petillo said that the problems that affect Belizeans cross political lines. He said his struggle is to fight against nepotism and to promote good governance.
Petillo highlighted the decision that Lisel Alamilla, minister of forestry took to symbolically burn a flitch of rosewood. BGYEA, he said, could have used that valuable resource to develop Harmonyville, a residential/farming community on the George Price Highway that his organization has acquired from the government to distribute to first-time landowners in one-acre packages.
Saturday’s rally, which also had the participation of several local musical artists, was also an opportunity to appeal to the government to “get back in touch” with the people.
Those in attendance came from other activist groups, the unions, the Pharmacists Association, the Nurses Association, the Farmers Association, the gay and lesbian sector, and the religious and Maya communities.
The ‘Plant the Corn’ rally precedes by a week a hearing of an injunction brought by the government against BGYEA to prevent the group from planting corn in the buffer zone at Harmonyville. That case is set for Friday, June 13.