Squatters instant eviction from Western Highway homes
An entire community of squatters was evicted earlier today. They had set up shop at an area near the Faber’s Road junction with the Western Highway where a road is being built for a bridge that would connect the south side to the north side of Belize City. Police showed up heavily armed and blocked access to the shanty houses when they delivered the eviction notices. There was turmoil and News Five’s Jose Sanchez picks up the story from there.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
An access road pushed from the Western Highway to the river began as a means to build a bridge that would connect Western and Northern Highway near Belama. But while the road was being cleared, some families began to build along the clearing. This morning they received a notice that they would be evicted immediately for squatting. Some of the squatters are on private and others on crown land. Nevertheless they are mad.
Felipe Martinez, Evicted from Home
“They call us squatters and soh and we just try to use a piece of land that we find up that is government land. We tried to use the land, but find out the land to make us go to the government and try to apply to survey because we willing to get wah lee piece of land fi we Belizean pikney because they di grow up.”
“But if they say the land is private, are you willing to go somewhere else if the government finds land somewhere else for you?”
“Yes, but like I say, I got a map of the place. And here it is. So we know that some of the area is private, but most of it dah government land. So we find out this and we want to come to the minister to see what we need to do or make he or what he can do for us because we as Belizeans need a spot to set a house. We di suffer. Everything is hard right now. We can’t pay rent again. If we get wah lee job, you only get like one hundred and fifty, two hundred dollars and then if you pay light bill, water bill, who can pay a rent. We really worried. Well imagine fi we pikneys and what they gonna do later.”
This afternoon the returned to find out if they could access their homes, but they met a police vehicle blocking the entrance to the area. The well armed officers were following orders.
Voice of: Evicted from Home
“Early this morning, after nine, minutes to ten, six jeep load of police just roll up pan we like we dah criminal or we do something—we commit and offence. And when I tell you dah big man, the officer commanding the eastern division come and serve we wah copy of this letter—this dah the letter weh deh serve all ah we with big gun and all kind ah thing. All ah we entitled to a piece of land; all Belizeans entitled to a piece of land. Dah only fi we piece ah land we di try get and dah still problem fi get fi we piece a land. They say Tommy Shaw own thirty-three acres of land. He noh even pay tax fi so long and dah still problem fi make we get wah land mi bredda. We noh entitled to a piece of land? Just give we weh belong to we. We done work, we done put wi work.”
“How many people live in that area?”
Voice of: Evicted from Home
“Bredda right now you have like wah hundred and add people done live back deh and you have so much more weh done chop out and sone di start put up deh house. Dah noh easy work that deh mi bredda, dah noh easy work back deh. Dah hard work. You got some mangrove weh bigger than you, weh taller than you, weh man have to the move and taller than you, big like lamppost weh man have to di chop down.”
“How long have you been living there?”
Alston Picart, Evicted from Home
“Year and change big man. That unfair mein. Make we just build fi we house—clear wah land, build we house and then they wah just come tell we mek we move? That noh right mien. What they expect? We to move on street with fi we pikney dehn? That noh right mien. That da no kinda justice.”
Melostic, Evicted from Home
“They should have a sign in front there before they ever think about shubbing wah road. If they even had wah negotiation with government, if this land dah even fi dehn and the government and the government tell dehn that di land dah fi they and decide to push wah road through yah. They suppose to inform the people because government know ih people deh. Government know that if they push wah road through yah, we noh wah play, we wah invade. They noh even push road and years we di travel through then yah road yah.”
“And your hands themselves show how hard you’ve been working right?”
“My hands could prove it—years in and years out we work they land yah. What we need today day, dah fi make the government get di sense that hear what; we noh fool again. You know wehg ih wah cause? It will cause civil war and murderation. You see how the police and they di kill we out yah—the lee po man weh di fight hard and they di blame wi and with we ugly looks, they say we are criminal. Dah they dah the criminal you know. Remember once this country start ‘round, they don’t know weh day we wah start to kick and start to kill them out and fight they back and shot them up and kill too. Belizeans ‘fraid fi say this, but I no ‘fraid cause one life to live and Jah deh with me, they can’t play with me.”
While the access road from the Western Highway is under the control of heavily armed officers. Closer to the river at the end of the Gungulung Area, homes are still being constructed. Although not yet affected, some families are clearly afraid they too will lose their homes. A police patrol with back up officers patrolled deeper in the clearing and spoke to people they may soon evict. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.Email This Story