By Benjamin Flowers
The Ministry of Natural Resources has issued an eviction notice for residents of Harmonyville occupying the Buffer Zone Area (reserve).
The Ministry underscored in a press release this week, that the Buffer Zone Areas in any development are the property of the Government of Belize and should be left in its natural state.
Nigel Petillo, president of the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association BGYEA, told the Reporter on Friday that the eviction notice affects his organization as well as ten families who have been squatting on the land.
Petillo explained that when BGYEA first arrived at Harmonyville to develop the area five families were squatting on the land. Those families were asked to relocate and received an acre of land with the community. They did not move when asked to and over time other families went to squat on the site which later became the Buffer Zone area.
Petillo says that BGYEA and the ministry had gone to the site on April 29 to reserve eviction notices, reminding the occupants that they should not be in the area. The notice also affects BGYEA because the organization has planted corn in the area without permission from the ministry. Petillo says that BGYEA is applying for the permission and is hoping for a favorable response from the commissioner of lands.
Since 2010 BGYEA has been lobbying with the government for a development community 42 miles on the George Price Highway. The organization has had several problems with the Lands Department over the years leading up to a demonstration in Belmopan last February.