Belize is a country with a population of about 400,000 people. It is underpopulated and there is enough land in the 8,867 square miles, to give each Belizean a lot to build a home for his family and himself. Plus, almost every Belizean family owns farmland which can be subdivided to give all their members a lot to build a house for themselves.
Yet, there are hundreds of Belizeans at home and abroad, who are yearning to get a piece of lot to build their homes but cannot get a lot to do so. The reasons are; a selfish family member who has the title for the family land refuses to share it with other family members who are also entitled to some of it, a family member might have sold the family’s titled land without the written consent and approval of all family members, a family member who had or have access to a government leased property that was given to their parents sold the lease, a family member acquired the lease and purchased the land for his or herself, the failure of government to issue ongoing leases to citizens regularly, the long waiting period for the government of Belize to issue Certificate of Titles to people after they discontinued Fiat Titles, some government employees are deliberately replacing the owners of leased properties without granting the current Lease Holder prior notice, no new land has been designated by the government in the districts for lease distribution and the refusal of Land Department employees to process citizens documents in a timely manner.
Years ago in order for Belizeans to get a lot or a piece of land, the People’s United Party (PUP) and United Democratic Party (UDP) had a Lots Committee in each district to implement the entire process. Under that system, most people got land when their party was in power. If their party was not in power, their applications never got processed while they were told by the local offices that their applications were sent to Belmopan. That system was hated by most Belizeans and the UDP and PUP promised to come up with a more fair and transparent process which never materialized.
The UDP and PUP still want the area representative to sign off on the land applications where the lot or land is located but if that Representative’s party is not in power his or her signature has no value. Also, if the Representative does not like a person or think that he or she did not vote for him or her, they will not get the Representative to sign their application. This is what many Belizeans including myself have been experiencing while trying to acquire a piece of lot or land in my country of birth. Almost every Belizean citizen, have experienced one of these issues that I have outlined in this article. This is a lot of pain and suffering that we have been going through in our country for years now.
While we the citizens continue to hope and wait, under Belize refugee program, many Guatemalans and Salvadorans have and continue to come into Belize and get lots and farmlands for their families and themselves. I have nothing against these people but this is not the way that the Government of Belize should be treating its native citizens. We the Belizean people, should not allow these abuses to continue under these two major political parties any longer.
I ask that we organize a Belizean Land Rights Rally. All the issues that I outlined, should be brought to the attention of our elected Representatives. We should also give them a time frame to address our land concerns. A case in point is; I bought a lot in Dangriga in the 1990’s and have a Fiat. I submitted documents for a Certificate of Title five years ago and I am still waiting for it. How much longer must I wait? There are many other Belizeans like myself, who are having the same experience. Without our land documents, we cannot do some business transactions. It is now time for all of us to bring our land problems to the forefront of this struggle because we cannot endure this pain and suffering anymore.