BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Dec. 17, 2015–Belize Defence Force Commander David Jones confirmed to Amandala today that an illegal dwelling set up by a Guatemalan at Valentin has been detected and Belize authorities are currently working with officials of the Organization of American States (OAS) to remove two buildings which have been illegally placed on the Belize side of the border.
Jones said that the two buildings are located near Valentin, in western Belize, very close to the Belize-Guatemala border.
Derric Chan, Park Manager for Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) said in a press conference on Wednesday that Guatemalans have continued to farm and even set up dwellings inside Belize, and it appears that they are staking claim to certain lands, identified by survey lines, pegs and markings. There is apparently land speculation in the area, and it appears that in some cases, some illegal farmers “rent” from another more influential farmer.
In May 2011, Amandala carried a special report on the Chiquibul situation after FCD took us on a fly-over of the area. At the time, we had revealed that Rigoberto Gutierrez Ramirez, a Guatemalan, had been living inside Belizean territory for almost 20 years. Chan had indicated that there were about 17 other cases, including Elias Lopez.
On Wednesday, Chan told us that both Gutierrez Ramirez and Lopez have been returned to Guatemala after negotiations.
However, FCD has learned of three new dwellings cropping up this year alone: two in the region of Cebada and a third in the Valentin area, straddling the Belize-Guatemala border. According to Chan, the Guatemalan in question, who he said lives in Melchor de Mencos, has a ranch with 30 cattle, and the cattle graze and are located on the Belize side within what is termed the adjacency zone, one kilometer to the east and west of the Belize-Guatemala border.
Chan said that when FCD did a fly-over in the area this March, that ranch was not there.
(Photo courtesy: FCD)