Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 6, 2006
Bishop returns the land to the poor labourers
Those who tilled the soil are finally rewarded
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
On Saturday I went to Pozo Verde to celebrate Mass and to meet with the people of that isolated community. I know that community well and I enjoyed being there.
I noticed people from Los Planes, a community about eight km away in the crowd. After Mass they greeted me. I inquired how their church plans were coming along. They had started leveling a piece of property, they said.
Off they go
I was in no hurry so I offered to pay them a visit then and there. They got into the truck and I drove to Los Planes, a community of about 100 families, most of whom are Catholic, but as yet with no church. Adjacent to the community is a huge field, 50 acres or more that belongs to the community.
I mentioned that the bishop requires that before giving the green light to build a new church, the title of the land required for the Catholic community must be turned over to the diocese. This is to provide that the property will always serve the Catholic people.
We drove to the place they chose as the church site. There was a muddy hole with a few inches of water in it. "Why there?" I asked. They explained that another road was being built near this area and it would be easier for us to drive there.
Yesterday I met a man who had been sent over by the bishop to begin the process of handing over chunks of land to the people who were born and raised in a finca that now belongs to the diocese.
The fincas are huge plots of land that powerful landowners developed with the help of landless people who are more or less content to be treated as cheap labour benefitting the prosperous landowner and leaving the families working there with a secure, but minimal income.
After the death of the last family survivors about a year ago, the finca was turned over to the local bishop according to the will of the last survivor, a spinster who died at the age of 94 two years ago. She had deeded all her property to the bishop of Quiche.
Yesterday, a man knocked at the rectory telling me he was sent by the bishop to better identify and define the various plots of land in a mountainous area that the former members of the finca were claiming from the new "finca owner," our good bishop.
The man had the latest technology connected to satellites that would provide the bishop with adequate knowledge of the land and how it could be parcelled over for permanent use by the former finca workers and their families.
The dignity of ownership
The purpose is to provide the people who worked on the finca for generations to be provided with land titles that will give the people clear ownership, along with the means of providing well for their families.
The people appear to be happy with their new situation and grateful their quality of life will be increased when all this is settled. Then after a few generations of never owning anything, these families will finally be landowners along with the dignity that this implies.
Good for you bishop.
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