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Home Features It’s tough to become a Spanish Lookout member (Mennonite)

It’s tough to become a Spanish Lookout member (Mennonite)

I don’t think the following document, which contains the membership rules of Spanish Lookout, is exactly classified, but it is for sure not disseminated for the consumption of Belizeans who live outside of the Spanish Lookout community. In two articles published in the Amandala recently, it was mentioned that there are a number of members of the community who are not happy campers, members who would like to see some changes made. The document was shared by one such person.

At the bottom of the document there is mention of New Rules, with the clarifying point that rules can be expanded and developed. We are aware of rules in the community that have been taken off the books over the years.

It is a fascinating set of rules that our Mennonite brothers and sisters in Spanish Lookout have established, in order to maintain near complete control of their part of the world in Belize, and these rules should be of particular interest to at least two of our Roots groups —the Maya of Toledo West and the Garinagu of Stann Creek and Toledo, for some of them have expressed the same kind of tribalism exhibited by the Mennonites. Here goes:

Membership Revision 2016

Spanish Lookout started as a Kleine Gemeinde Church colony system in 1958. All the land was purchased under one title. Because of this, the community has control over who occupies land and how those who live here conduct themselves. Spanish Lookout continues to be operated as a democratic community, holding to the values and agreements that the founders had.

Members of the community enjoy privileges and have responsibilities. This document tries to outline these privileges and responsibilities, and also outline how a person can become a member.
An agreement was signed with the then Government of British Honduras in 1957. It states that the Mennonites and their descendants would enjoy certain privileges as long as they keep their
commitments to the country. This document will try to maintain these privileges and commitments. The Agreement signed in 1957 between the Government of British Honduras and the Kleingemeinde Mennonite Church is annexed to these Rules and forms a part of these Rules

Categories of Members

There shall be four categories of membership in the Spanish Lookout Community:

  • Employee
  • Resident
  • Associate Member
  • Member

Each of these categories comes with privileges and responsibilities. These Rules set out who and how someone is eligible to become a member.

It shall be noted that when this document mentions land ownership, it refers to the rights to occupy as described by the rules of Spanish Lookout, and shall not be understood to mean legal ownership

allowing for a legal title.

 Employee

If a member would need an employee to reside within Spanish Lookout, he could sponsor the person and his family. The sponsor would be responsible for the employee, and would have to fill out a sponsor form with the village chairman of the village where it is proposed that the employee will reside.

Requirements of employee to be eligible:

  • Find a Sponsor
  • Be of good character
  • Respect the traditions and comply with all rules of the Community

Responsibilities of employee / sponsor (land owner or employer):

  • Sign a form with the village chairman, committing to complying with the community regulations
  • Renew this form every year
  • Send children to school
  • Sponsor will pay all applicable community fees (example vehicle fees).
  • Promptly inform the Chairman if the employment status changes, or a new sponsor is needed
  • The sponsor shall ensure that the employee is accorded his/her rights under the laws of the country.

Privileges of employee

  • Live and work in Spanish Lookout for so long as he/she remains employed in Spanish Lookout

Revocation of Sponsorship

Where an employee, despite being told that he/she is in breach of community rules, persists in breaking those rules, his sponsorship may be revoked by the Village Chairman subject to review by the Monthly Committee Meeting.

Resident

A resident is someone who has been approved to reside in Spanish Lookout. A resident cannot own land, or participate in community elections. A resident cannot receive school support for his children, unless he is married to a member. Non-members who marry a member and children of members automatically receive resident status. Should they need a resident card, certain requirements may have to be met.

Requirement to be eligible

  • Find a sponsor
  • Be of good character
  • Live in or move to Spanish Lookout
  • Get approved by the monthly committee meeting
  • Be at least 18 years old

Responsibilities of Resident/Guarantor (land owner or employer)

  • Sign a form with the chairman committing to comply with the community regulations
  • Pay all resident and community fees
  • Send children to school
  • Renew sponsor form after the first year; subsequent forms can be approved for three years.

Privileges

  • Live and work in Spanish Lookout

Associate Member

An associate member would be a person who was a member and left Spanish Lookout and kept his accounts in good standing. A person under the age of 21 could also become an associate member. An associate member cannot vote, but he can own (occupy or quit title) or inherit land.

Members who move away would automatically become associate members, provided that they

  • Have been a member
  • Have a member as a contact person

Requirements to be eligible to apply to be an Associate Member:

  • Be of Mennonite background
  • Score 100 points on the grading system
  • Get approval of the monthly committee meeting
  • Have a member as his guarantor

Responsibilities

  • Pay all required community fees
  • Sign a form committing to comply with the community regulations

Privileges

  • Own land in Spanish Lookout
  • Live in Spanish Lookout
  • An associate member that has been an associate member for 3 years can buy land with the approval of the monthly committee meeting. He could also receive dividends from the coo-op businesses if he/she pays the half rate tax as required of members with businesses outside the community.
  • Receive immediate school support when moving back to Spanish Lookout if all fees have been paid during the preceding three years.

Member

A member is a person with full benefits and responsibilities. Men and women are equally eligible to become a member; however married members would have their membership merged. Non-members who marry a member automatically receive resident status. Should they need a resident card, certain requirements may have to be met. In the event that a marriage between a member and a non-member is dissolved, the non-member would cease to enjoy the benefits.

Requirements to be eligible to apply for Membership

  • Be of Mennonite background
  • Reside in Spanish Lookout
  • Be 21 years of age
  • Score 100 points on the point grading system
  • Sign a document committing to comply with the community regulations
  • Get approval of the monthly committee meeting (application would need to be submitted before going to the meeting.)

Responsibilities

  • Reside in Spanish Lookout
  • Pay all applicable community fees

Privileges

  • Reside in Spanish Lookout
  • Buy and own land in Spanish Lookout
  • Vote in community elections
  • Receive dividends from the co-op businesses
  • Receive school support after paying all fees for 3 years

Non-compliant Residents, Associate Members and Members

If a person fails to fulfill the responsibilities of a Member, Associate Member or Resident, he/she will be informed in writing by the chairman of his/her village and given a reasonable time to fulfill his responsibilities.  If A Non-compliant Member or resident still fails to fulfill his responsibilities he or she will lose some or all privileges as determined by the monthly committee meeting. In extreme cases, he (or she) may be required to leave Spanish Lookout. (Subject to the laws of Belize)

Point Grading System

For a person to be eligible to become a member, he will need to meet the requirements to garner 100 points. The points will be graded as follows:

Child of a compliant Spanish Lookout member                                             40 pts

Attended primary school (max. 8 years) in Spanish Lookout                         5 pts per year

Plaatdeutsh-speaking Mennonite ancestry                                                   20 pts

Speak Plaatdeutsh                                                                                     10 pts

Been a resident and paid all required taxes                                                  5 pts per year

Know the Spanish Lookout history (to be verified by test)                              10 pts

Get 95% approval of the monthly committee meeting                                    20 pts

(A person who scores 80 points could apply and if he/she is approved by 95% of the monthly committee meeting, he/she can receive their membership.)

`I-  Non-Member Business in Spanish Lookout

For a non-member to operate a business in Spanish Lookout, the non-member will need to be sponsored by a member, usually the land occupier where the business is to be operated. The land occupier will be required to sign an agreement with the business operator, and that agreement must be reviewed by the monthly committee meeting and approved every year. The non-member can not own any permanent structures in Spanish Lookout. The business owner will have to disclose his sales to the sponsor, and the sponsor will have to pay all normal fees for the business. The business owner will have to agree to and comply with all the Spanish Lookout requirements.

Compulsory Taking of Land under Occupation

From time to time, certain portions of land under the use, occupation and control of a member shall be required by the community for road expansion, installation of utility lines or other public purposes for the good of the entire community. When the taking of any such land becomes necessary, the member or members whose land it is proposed to take for such public purposes shall be given reasonable notice of the taking. That member and the leaders of the community shall attempt to negotiate a reasonable price for the use of the land based on market value within the Spanish Lookout Mennonite Community. Where no agreement can be reached between that member and the leaders, the matter shall be submitted to a panel comprised of three experts of the Spanish Lookout Mennonite Community who are experienced in the valuation of land.

New Rules

These Rules may be expanded and developed from time to time by the Monthly Committee Meeting and ratified at the annual November membership meeting of the Spanish Lookout Community.

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