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Jun 17, 2014

From Harmonyville to Holy Emmanuel to Belama Phase Five – squatters to be evicted

From Harmonyville to Holy Emmanuel and now, Belama Phase Five…squatting continues to be a pervasive issue. On April third, a number of families were chaotically evicted from the Holy Emmanuel Street because the area was needed for the construction of the Chetumal Street Bridge that will adjoin the north side to the south side of the City. Tonight, we report on another instance of squatting at Belama Phase Five which is in fact not too far from Holy Emmanuel. For a year now, many have taken up residence on the property of a family which has owned the land for more than six decades. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Squatting, as well as the issue of land availability are both subjects of concern that constantly affect an ever-expanding Belize City.  In Belama, for instance, the area has grown significantly, spreading from Phase One to phases four and five within the last decade.  While development is driven by a growth in population, in this residential community a majority of the properties have been acquired unlawfully.  The families here simply build their homes and settle without first inquiring about the ownership of land or obtaining titles.  Such is the case in Phase Five particularly.

 

Voice of: Resident, Belama Phase 5

“Actually, we completed a year in May and we just found out that these properties are for someone.  But we are really sorry for what we did but we are Belizeans and we are in need and we need a piece of land.”

 

It is a rationale that is put forward by most living here, one that is not accepted by the existing titleholder.  In this location are two adjoining properties, Parcel Number 1707 which spans seventeen acres and Parcel Number 1705 that covers another twenty acres.  The land, says its owner, has been in the family for over sixty years.  She declined an interview but made available her proof of ownership.

 

Isani Cayetano

“You mentioned that it’s been a year a since you’re occupying this piece of property.  Where were you located before?”

 

Voice of: Resident

“In Belize City.  We were renting at first but actually we have three years that we have been coming here to chop the place and maintain it, right.  But we have a year living here and this place was nothing compared to how it looks now.  It used to have big trees, it was so different, you know, it’s hard for us to just move like that.”

 

This family is one of nine that are occupying the estate.  Earlier today, they were all out in full force when the owner visited the site to erect signage.  According to the woman, she was recently notified by the Lands Department that her property was being cleared and settled by squatters.

 

Isani Cayetano

“You do realize however, that you’ve been given a two-month notice during which time it is expected that you either relocate or they will come and move you off the property.  That’s limited options for you.  What are you prepared to do?”

 

Voice of: Resident

Well, we have to move, that’s a have-to so, I understand that we did bad and we need to move.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Do you know if the other residents of this area share the same feeling, I mean I know some of them have said that they won’t move, they have kids and they are desperately in need of property as well.  Do they share the same sentiment as you?”

 

Voice of: Resident

“Yes they do, but in a way what they believe is that they work hard for what they have now and rent is too expensive.  The lady told us two months and two months it is, we have to move.”

 

While the owner is resolute that the land will not be subdivided and sold as individual house lots, she is open to the idea of selling both parcels.  It is uncertain at this point whether the squatters will make a decision to collectively purchase the properties since government has made it clear that it will not do so on their behalf.

 

Moses Lobos, Resident

Moses Lobos

“If she sell di land or government buy all di people wahn pay fi di land because I want di land and otha people noh have nowhere else fi go.  Or if government woulda give we land da wa next place ih still good but right now, if we bruk [down] di house weh di material deh, di material wah left deh, ih cyaan left deh.  All di people weh geh charge dehn money work fi dehn money, work fi dehn house. all di people.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Take us back a bit, when you came across this piece of property did you go through all the necessary steps to find out if it was owned by someone?  Did you go to [the] Lands [Department], did you go to the area rep?  What did you do before you began clearing?”

 

Voice of: Resident

“We went to the Lands Department and they told us that they didn’t know who is the owner but then afterwards this lady just came from nowhere and from since Friday she has been coming every single day telling the people to stop building. If she is willing to sell then we can purchase it from her and it’s up to her but all we are asking [is for her] to sell it.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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3 Responses for “From Harmonyville to Holy Emmanuel to Belama Phase Five – squatters to be evicted”

  1. Simone says:

    $%&(( squatters again- it was not yours – go back to paying rent- of course it is easier to steal land- why doesn’t gob do something and help people who pay taxes rather than those who cause controversy- I am tired of this pro poor bullshit ruining belize- you thought you could take it? Because no one was there? Assume that all land is owned- by owners if not gob for belizean citizens first- fuck- all over this country squatters are causing problems- wake up dean barrow

  2. CEO says:

    There is always some drama!

  3. sickntired says:

    The owner of this land should sub-divide it and rent to the squatters. That way everybody wins and she will still own the land.

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