Jose Carballo and the PUP refuse new High School for Palmar Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 00:00

Last week we told you about the inauguration of pre and primary schools in the Toledo District. It is always good news when we hear schools are being opened across the country in line with Government’s commitment to ensuring that education is accessible to all. The Government of Belize through the Ministry Of Education’s Implementation project unit is in the process of identifying communities country-wide for the construction of 35 new institutions of learning.

This week the news is not so good. Officers of the Unit responsible for conducting surveys and identifying areas where the construction of these schools will have the most impact held a presentation/consultation session in San Jose Nuevo Palmar in the Orange Walk District on Sunday September 17. After having made assessments and surveys in the Orange Walk Area it was decided that Nuevo Palmar was in a strategic position to house a High School, which would service the Louisiana area of Orange Walk Town as well as surrounding villages, where the demographics demand such an institution. Honorable Elodio Aragon who also saw the need for this High School in this area became very instrumental in trying to see that this school be built in Palmar.

The officers, however, encountered a snag in the plan. San Jose Nuevo Palmar has a unique Land Occupancy situation much like the Mayas’ in the Toledo District. The only way someone can get a parcel of land in the Palmar village is if he/she is a direct descendant of the Elders who were ousted from the Yalbac Area and were gifted the Palmar lands. In essence the lands are not National lands but Communal lands and any plans for the use of the lands must include the elders or their descendants who hold the land in trust.

Be that as it may, the officers had identified a ten acre parcel of land with the assistance of one of the villagers who was the past Palmar Lands Committee Chairman. The land is in a strategic location and although a large portion of it is swamp, the officers decided that it was suitable even if it required a great deal of filling. They proceeded to make the necessary contacts and conducted preliminary due diligence leading up to the consultation on Sunday September 17. By all appearances most of the villagers were in agreement to have the High School built in their village as they saw the educational and even the economic benefits such an institution would bring to the village. Hon. Aragon also lobbied the Ministry of Education for consideration and preference to be given to Palmar Village.

It didn’t come as a surprise when the PUP’s standard bearer for the Palmar Area,  Josue Carballo, after having gotten wind of the plans to bring a High School to Palmar started making his rounds and muddying the waters. First he put a Post on his Facebook page urging villagers to reject the construction of the school and he also suggested that the Government is coming to steal the Palmareños’ lands to build an Anglican school for Patrick Faber. His irresponsible comments were followed by an active campaign amongst the PUP villagers who showed up at Sunday’s consultation only to derail it. The ones opposing it were in the minority and were suggesting that if Government wants to build a school for them the GOB needs to pay them for the land. It was never established who “them” were or who would receive the money or what would be done with it. Although the majority were in agreement, due to the fact that there was no consensus, the officers ended the presentation/consultation and gave the villagers one week to resolve their internal issues and they will return to get the final answer on Sunday September 24.

It is a sad day when because of their selfish political agendas PUP officials and operatives seek to disrupt the execution of plans that can only result in benefits for the masses. Is it that Josue Carballo is seeking to keep the villagers uneducated and therefore in poverty? Why is Josue Carballo so adamant in demanding payment for lands which belong to a community and not individuals? A government school will serve all the villagers of Palmar and other communities as well. Whatever the outcome of their internal issues is, a high school will be built in the area and contingencies are in place in the event that Palmar rejects the building of the High School on their communal lands.

History will then record that a group of persons led by a PUP mischief-maker without vision was responsible for the village of San Jose Nuevo Palmar not taking advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 September 2017 14:25