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Apr 1, 2011

Squatters won’t move, and meet to discuss the promise of land

On Thursday, heavily armed police showed up at the junction of Faber’s Road with the Western Highway. They took eviction orders to a community of squatters ordering them to move forthwith. With guns on the ready, the police blocked access to their houses but finally as night approached the settlers were allowed back into the area. The situation was tense since over three hundred squatters have long set up their houses and did not want to leave the area where a bridge is to be built to connect the south side to the north side of the Old Capital. News Five’s Jose Sanchez has an update on the plight of the squatters.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

About three hundred persons were evicted from homes that they built and land that they cleared behind the Gungulung area of St. Martins that lead to the Western Highway.  But by nightfall, some of them with toddlers and primary school students in tow faced the guns and walked the clearing back to their homes. The settlers, as they prefer to be called, did so with the aid of two organizations.

Amilcar Deiar, Facing Eviction

Amilcar Deiar

“We got some organization to help us to see what to do because all the children come from school and can’t got into the houses and then the organization help us to see what we will do because it was late already and the children sleep on the street. I think you can see the news last night and the news show the children and the old people were outside on the street because they couldn’t get into the houses. The organization help us to making some calls—I don’t know if that was to the police department or something like that—but they start to move out and allow us to come into our houses. But this morning, the police was still there.”

Moses Sulph

Belizeans For Justice and COLA met with some of the settlers today to discuss the way forward.

Moses Sulph, President, COLA

“The ministry of natural resources and the Prime Minister need to see how they can fix this situation before it gets out of hand because the people of this country; it’s like a boiling pot. It’s like a little flame and people are waiting so that a fire can start. So it would be advisable in the light of democracy that we try to fix this problem—allow the people to keep the land. Those who want to make profit from this land are already rich. As I said before, over the last five years there’s only one set of people who have had an elevated lifestyle, only one set of people who have been alleviated from poverty [when] you hear about alleviation of poverty on the South Side. And those are the persons who were elected like Mister Boots Martinez and the other friend of Mister Boot Martinez. So I am saying clearly to the government: stop from pressuring people, listen to the people, allow these people to have these lands where they can continue to have their homes or the same vast amount of people that brought in this government in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by mass demonstration; this is the same kind of process that will lead this government out of power if they continue down the track that they are going. This is not about COLA or any organization trying to be against this government. No! We are only here to for the thing that you were elected to do—rule with democracy.”

The promise of land to all Belizeans is what these settlers are willing to fight for in an area that has been their scriptural Promised Land.

Jose Sanchez

“Traditionally Belizeans have not been known for fighting but this is changing now, isn’t it?”

Anson Sanchez, Facing Eviction

“Ih have to change. One of the reasons why it has to change is because the government noh di give nobody no land. Deh whole land da fi we; every Belizean entitled to a piece of land. All we di try get dah fi we piece weh we entitle to. Again we noh di ask for three, four lot—dah one piece of lot, fifty by seventy five—that’s all we di fight fah.”

Jose Sanchez

“Some of the land is crown land, but others they say belong to the businessman Shaw. If some people are on Shaw’s land, should they leave or should they try to negotiate with him?

Anson Sanchez

Anson Sanchez

“I no advise nobody to leave from government land or Shaw land. Shaw no come to we yet and tell we you deh pan my land or make we negotiate something or if we wah sell the land. And the thing is that pan di map, eh no mark private; ih just make open up. That di tell we something right deh so.”

Jose Sanchez

“If you take a comparison to the whole Harmonyville situation at Mile 41. That was private land initially owned by Chinese businessmen and those people have been there over a decade [and] nobody tried to move them. Government finds out about you and they want to move you immediately.”

Anson Sanchez

“Mi bredda, this thing happen noh just now. Whole ah back ah Martins build up by squatters. Collet build up by squatters. Why we now? Why we? Back deh soh important that some minister want tek over the whole ah back deh.”

Felipe Martinez, Squatter

Felipe Martinez

“We need the piece of land fi mek all deh pikney dehn live pan.”

Jose Sanchez

“Some people have the impression that some of you just moved there since the road was cleared. How long have some of the people been back there?”

Felipe Martinez

“Some people live there for more or less six years—the one close to the canal. But then we have like four years people weh live pan the side of the street. I got my house pan di side of the street before they survey for the road they just open. I mi di build that from four years ago and I live there three years. So actually…”

Jose Sanchez

“Where are you going to go? Are you going to leave?”

Felipe Martinez

“I noh wah leave so easy. I wah fight for my rights because I entitled to get wah piece of land from the government. From the time they accept me as a Belizean, I da wah Belizean.”

The mass crowds that walked across the clearing will travel across the clearing and the river to the north side of town where they will meet in Belama on Sunday morning to discuss how to keep the piece of earth they carved and shaped with calloused hands. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The meeting is Sunday morning nine o’clock on Chetumal Street in Belama.

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14 Responses for “Squatters won’t move, and meet to discuss the promise of land”

  1. Xaan says:

    This is sad how they have these people out on the streets! hell! give them the piece of land they are entitled to!

  2. Tina says:

    Wow big lesson here and the biggest is this notion that it is their right to a piece of land where they choose. Gov’t gives in and one heck of a precedent has been started.

  3. BZNinCALI says:

    By allowing people to put up what they want, where they want, we have ended up with a mess where properties have been occupied by families for years, sometimes generations, no one has proof of ownership, constant bickering over who owns what & alleys where criminals can hide. No one wants to pay for anything & even when given the land, many refuse to pay the taxes. Last week we saw one woman complaining about unfair treatment because she was losing the home she had not paid a penny on in over five years.

    No one wants to force families with children onto the streets but at some point rather than buying into the rhetoric, poor folks will stop looking for a messiah & make the sacrifices necessary to get a little place of their own. Stop allowing politicians & the like to use you as a stepping stone only to get the hell away from you after they get their first paycheck. A little girl was mauled in this area recently & from the pictures it was obvious that there was no way to get emergency equipment to most of the homes in the area. Being poor may limit your buying power but not your ability to think. Don’t ask for the freedom to build what you want, ask for help to create what you need, we need the next generation to succeed.

    Take the stigma off “Lang Barricks” & build decent affordable units with backyards that poor folks can afford. By doing so, you can have rooms for schools with playgrounds & neighborhoods people can be proud of.

  4. Belizean100 says:

    It is sad to see that these people…in which I can assume some are immigrants bring along their culture of SQUATTING from the other Central American countries…they came here for a better living but they shouldn’t come and act like they tend to do in Guatemala, etc.

  5. Lucas says:

    It is fast becoming the norm in Belize , in regards to land, that the easiest way to get land is to squat. I do agree that the population is growing and with it, the need of land for building homes. But what about those that are squatting on acres?. Whose fault is it? If the govt. does not control squatting in the interior, what makes us believe that they will do so along the border?. Is govt. really incapable or is it politics as usual?. Belize is fast becoming a lawless nation and if indeed govt. is impotent in regards to squatting, then we have a problem in the making with the potential of blowing into a full scale armed confrontation. Govt. should not forget that by allowing squatters along the western border and when finally decided to do something about it, we found ourselves starring at the possibility of an armed confrontation with Guatemala. In this case, there is no difference except that the armed confrontation will be between Belizean security forces and Belizean peasants. The gasoline, the wick and the match is ready. Only the one to ignite it is needed. Squatting is illegal and govt. must stop it but, it also has the moral obligation to alliviate the housing need of his citizens and, must be done now before we get to the point of no return.

  6. Lisa says:

    So I should stop paying taxes if these people just sit on a land, pay nothing to purchase it, pay no tax and then wish for a home from gob. Reward the people who disobey the law?

  7. MyLegacyB4MyPeople says:

    I am going to sound like Rod here useless government resign Barrow resign before I stone you with my shoe, now tell me why are we planning to build a bridge in this location, I am assuming just to be a part of the Barrow legacy since he has done nothing else for the country he wants to go out with his name on something and possible to create prime property to add to his wealth building legacy scheme reason why he is chasing the people off the land, I can think of many other things to use that money for and a bridge sure is not one of them, people needs work man work so they can feed their families, why don’t you send the cops with the big guns after the real criminals that is causing the biggest problems in Belize, O’h I forgot they work for you so you can keep the Belizean public afraid and not start an uprising another reason why you don’t let the public arm themselves against these monsters in the street since it is obvious that you cannot give them protection, if you do then you would be working against your own policies since these monsters are your creation, I say that Belizeans should stand up for the right to bear arms being that their government has failed in protecting them against aggression that way when the aggressor approaches he/she will think before acting. Remember, My Legacy B 4 My People.

  8. Truth says:

    What do these people really expect? They are squatters. Who says that they are entitled to a piece of land????? They shouldn’t be having a number of kids that they can’t afford. Birth control is very cheap in Belize!!! Use it!

  9. JLP says:

    This news report leaves me with several questions:

    1. When did government begin to distribute eviction notices? How often were they distributed? How did squatters respond to evictions?

    2. Does government have relocation plans for the squatters? If so, when did they start those plans and were the squatters made aware of the relocation area?

    3. What kind of living conditions are present in this area? Is there running water, electricity? If there is a relocation area, are living conditions better there than in the squatting area?

  10. louisville,ky says:

    This matter of squatting seems to be getting way out of hand. First it was the Guate on the border, or correction, adjancency zone and then Harmonyville and now Faber’s road junction. If this matter is not nipped in the bud, as we say, word is going to be out that who ever wants a piece of land, as long as it is unoccupied, then it’s there for the taking.
    What regular folk needs to understand is that with the construction of a bridge on that road, that entire stretch of property automatically becomes prime real estate. Naturally the powers that be will not have it littered with shacks and london bridges all looking like shanty town. Apart from the eye sore appearance, property value will plummet.
    To avoid all this and fill the needs of the people, lands dept/ City council should send in surveyors and apportion the area into residential and business lots, put in streets and other infrastructure so as to avoid the chaos and let there a method to what certainly will become madness on the junction at Fabers.
    But then again that might be asking and expecting way too much from these narrow minded shysters.
    You know who I am talking about!

  11. Earl Grey says:

    WONT MOVE???????????? WE HAVE LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT………USE THEM!!!!!

  12. leon leon says:

    First of all, who is watching to make sure all these people are Belizeans? How doES the honest Belizeans know if they are not surrounded by criminals who crawled into Belize, hiding their true identity? There is enough TURMOIL among the “true Belizeans” as it is right now – with all the killings and social problems the country is experiencing.
    Since when land is free? Years ago my dad bought land working as a fisherman. Later he wiped the sweat from his face as he toiled in the hot sun working the land to pay his taxes. He did not get any “free land”. He worked for every darn acre he had. He did not sit on his laurels and expected the gov to say, “you can live here…these are your 5 acres”…that’s bull $! When you have a wife and children, you need to grown up and be a real man. If you are a single parent, develop some responsibility and do something to improve your social life. You just don’t sit and expect the government to be responsibility for your actions.
    It’s bad enough for the Belizeans to have their hands stretched out, looking for a free piece of land – it becomes quite stupid on the part of the Belizean government, welcoming these squatters into the country, not even knowing some of their nationality. Trust me, I am aware some are true Belizeans.
    It seems most of these people claiming this land are not Belizeans born. Mr PM, Mr. M in charge of land, WHO IS ACTUALLY VERIFYING WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE? IS BELIZE TAKING IN ITS OWN ENEMIES THAT WILL RISE UP AND FIGHT AGAINST HER?
    CHANNEL 5 CAN YOU TELL US WHO IS WATCHING AND PROTECTING BELIZEAN LAND? HOW COMES THE CHINESE OWN SO MUCH OF BELIZE?????????PLEASE INVESTIGATE AND LET US KNOW.

  13. leon leon says:

    Yes, the govt is responsible for constructive housing and community development for the Belizeans in need. All this can be controlled and closely monitored without Tom, Dick and Harry claiming ownership to the land. In life, “we creep before we walk”. Creep around in the government housing and then WALK into your own house and WALK on your own land, after you work hard and pay for it.

  14. Ebony says:

    Leave the squatters as they are !!! I donot know who the told the government of belize the people in Belama want a bridge build from chetumal street to back of the lakeI if the government cant even control the crime in the city why would they want to bring it to an area that doesn’t have crime why can’t they think about the effects of this bridge and the crime that will effect the people who live in belama and they say two head are better than 1 why aren’t they using it

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