Nov 26, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – A Cuyuni farmer, Michael Cordis recalls receiving an approval for his application to lease some farmlands in the prime of his youth, now a pensioner at age 60, and some 37 years later, he still awaits his lease instrument.
As previously reported in an article published in May 2010 by this paper, Cordis had applied to the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GLSC) in the year 1982 for 10 acres of land at Three Quarter Miles, Cuyuni River, Region 7.
Sitting down in the interview room at Kaieteur News yesterday, Cordis recalled that he was only 22 at the time and brimming with youth. He eventually got his approval of application and permission to use the land in 1983. He invested some money in cultivating the plot for his livelihood and began paying rates and taxes at the GLSC office located at Bartica.
He did this for four years but did not receive a lease instrument. Cordis reapplied in 1987 for a 25-year-lease. He got a second approval and continued investing in fruit trees and other crops to sustain himself.
In 1989, he left the area and returned in 1995 but still did not receive his lease. Cordis continued to invest more and more money in the farm as he waited patiently for the legal document. He spent five years developing and working tirelessly on the land before leaving the area again for a second time in 2000.
When he returned in 2003, Cordis discovered that Barama, a foreign logging company and Guyana Sawmills had invaded his farm. The companies had bulldozed his fruit trees.
The farmer did not waste no time in taking the companies to court in 2006 and called for $74M in damages. The man had told Kaieteur News in his earlier interview, that Barama had offered to compensate him $5M, an offer he rejected. In 2007, GLSC agreed to make a settlement with Cordis to give him back part of the land.
Cordis said that they also guaranteed that he would be handed a legal document giving him the rights to the land. He accepted and began clearing the bushes to plant a new set of crops but was halted by one of the same logging companies operating there.
They told him that he could not do anything with the land until he produced his lease instrument. The matter between him and the companies dragged on for years as he continued to wait for the lease GLSC promised him.
In 2010 at the age of 50, he became frustrated and staged a one-man picket in front GLSC office located on Hadfield Street, Georgetown, begging for his lease.
His cries unanswered, he continued the next seven years spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his court battle, in a bid to prevent the Barama takeover.
In 2017, Cordis saw a glimmer of hope after Barama came to an agreement with the court. The company stated via its lawyers that it is no longer interested in the lands and was willing to give it back to the government.
Despite this move, GLSC still did not grant the lease instrument to Cordis. With the court case officially over, he reapplied in 2018 for the same land and was granted approval for a third time.
Earlier this year, Cordis visited GLSC to inquire about the lease and was told that he cannot receive a lease because the land was sold to someone else. As Cordis sat yesterday with reporters, yesterday, his eyes watered as he showed them photos and videos, which he recorded of his farm located on the left bank of the Cuyuni River.
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