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Apr 10, 2015

Lake I Squatters Say They Are Not Getting a Good Deal

On Thursday night, we reported that thirteen families were facing eviction from their homes in the Lake Independence Boulevard area. They have been removed twice before for squatting, but now, the parcel of land has been acquired from government by a Chinese businessman. The area is undergoing a multimillion dollar transformation and while the businessman is offering compensation, the squatters believe they are not getting a fair deal. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A cluster of crudely constructed wooden structures, elevated several feet above this waterlogged swamp, are the homes of about thirteen families that are facing eviction come April fifteenth.  These residents have been occupying the land illegally and have been forced off nearby properties on at least two previous occasions by government officials.  This time however, the owner of the six-acre parcel, a Chinese businessman, is willing to compensate for the removal of their buildings from his property.

 

Elvia Alvarez

Elvia Alvarez, Squatter

“Di Chiney di wah thousand dollars for each one ah we weh deh yah right.  So, well I ansa because I tell ahn, “Well, mista all ah we cyaan get wah thousand dollars because you know dat wah thousand dollars, weh paat wah thousand dollars wah put we?”  Well me, I da wahn single mother, you know, and I noh rich, you know, and I got dis land ya fi so much years before this street staat to build.”

 

That street is Lake Independence Boulevard.  The construction of the adjoining Chetumal Street Bridge has seen several tracts of land being cleared for future development, including the portion that’s settled by unlawful tenants.

 

Rosa Espina

Rosa Espinal, Squatter

“It’s not the first time that they moved us.  The same government that’s in told us to come back because this is the third time right, and most of us are the same persons.  So now since dehn done landfill now and do everything over this side now they are going over the other side.  But now what they want is that he has six acres that is for him and he said that the government has already taken two acres so he is not willing to lose no more.  So what he is offering us, the Chiney man, is a thousand dollars and to remove without court action.”

 

The offer, nonetheless, is unsatisfactory since Alvarez maintains that the sum of her belongings exceeds that dollar amount.

 

Elvia Alvarez

“You know we noh di fight for the land and so, but the lee finance weh dehn wahn give we, that noh enough. I don’t want a thousand dollars; only thing I want is a lee land for myself. Just like I mi tell yo before; from yah, weh part I gwen. I di work out there under sun hot, under rain and the struggle for a little bit weh I want to gain. So me noh want no thousand dollars papa. Look pan this old house yah; that dah more than three thousand dollars. The labor, the transport, the transport, the lumber and so, you know. So, me noh di fight with Chinese for this because I know I can’t figth a big man, a money man fi wahn poor lady.”

 

According to Rosa Espinal who is organizing residents in the area, they have reached out to area representative Mark King to assist in their relocation.

 

Rosa Espinal

“We can’t reach him. I text him, I try as much as I could, we just can’t reach him. So we just ask him to see if he can see this and maybe answer.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now as you mentioned earlier, you were initially squatting on crown land, government property, and you were removed on several occasions…”

 

Rosa Espinall

“Most of us have been removed two times already and they told us to move back right. And it was a surprise that all of a sudden they say that this is a private land. Now we see a title because we know it has an owner from three years ago when they bought it. But what we are asking is that they relocate us; that’s all. As he told us, he was going to try to relocate us, but up to now we haven’t heard anything.”

 

The squatters have until Wednesday of next week to vacate the property or they will face court action. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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