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Jun 3, 2011

We wont move; Squatters, Cola and Belizeans for Justice

Evicted squatters, backed by Belizeans for Justice and COLA, staged a protest, blocking the Belcan Bridge after their houses were destroyed on Wednesday morning. On Thursday Yolanda Schakron, who was on the frontline, got the criminal treatment at the Queen Street Police Station, but after processing no charges were levied. COLA’s Giovanni Bracket also received a letter about possible charges. But the police went further and issued a warning to the general public, citing Section 229 of the Belize Criminal Code, which reads that “If ANY person or persons assemble or be together with a purpose of committing a riot, each of them is guilty of a misdemeanor”. According to police, the squatters and their supporters also broke the law by holding a public procession without a permit and any future incidents will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.  Today, some of the evicted families are still sheltering in what’s left of their homes and say they won’t move until government provides alternative accommodations. News Five’s Jose Sanchez got the update at a press conference held by COLA and Belizeans for Justice at the site this morning.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

This morning at the ground zero for the Chetumal street squatters, it was evident that the most affected were women and children, many of whom were not at school and just sitting or walking around a makeshift shelter.  That’s why the Director of Human Services and her team were assessing the situation.

Ava Pennil, Director, Human Services

“We came out due to the concerns of women and children sleeping out in the elements and under less than ideal situation. We just came out to do an assessment of the three families. Look at ways the department can help at least to alleviate and assist the families with the basic needs. We are looking holistically at the needs of the family so there is nothing really barred that limits us right now. We’ve done the interviews, we’re going now to sit down and look at each individual families and see how we can do best to assist the families.”

But today activist groups Belizeans for Justice and Citizens Organized for Liberty though Action joined the remaining squatters for a ten a.m. press conference in which announced they would not move without a proper alternative.

Moses Sulph

Moses Sulph, President, COLA

“I’m clear that they have a show that they usually does which is Belmopan weekly and I can’t recall seeing this vast development been shown to the public. We don’t want to stand in the way of development either; however people and persons out here have a right. The minister keeps saying born Belizeans and things like that and the other persons they clearly don’t do what we do out here. However we want him to understand that not because other persons don’t do what we are doing out here, however we want him to understand that not because other persons are not willing to stand up for their right that means everybody is suppose to sit back. If the government was doing the proper thing through lands, by issuing lands to persons who apply for land then we wouldn’t have this situation out here. It is clear that the government is incompetent in doing what is necessary in carrying out systems so that the people can then abide by those systems because they themselves is not following the system. What they can do is give these persons out here land which is not in the vicinity of what they are proposing to develop but survey other lands that are out of the section that they want to develop. Survey it, get it cut down, not promise that they are going to do it and not do it before you move these persons. That is what you should have done before you came and broke down people’s houses. You should have surveyed an alternative location.”

Yolanda Schakron, Belizeans For Justice

Yolanda Schakron

“I want to ask Mr. Boots Martinez today. I hear him playing the race card. I am a Hispanic of Belizean, but I am a Belizean first. Mister Boots; that race card noh di work—black white, chiney, anybody—we are dah Belizeans. I want to address the leader of this country, Mister Dean Oliver Barrow, where is the compassion for the people of Belize? If you noh have it for the people, have it for the children of this nation. We have gotten enough and we will stand up and these organizations will not be intimidated. We will not be moved. Yesterday they took me to jail and processed me like a criminal, but I must tell unu one thing, that just make me stronger. I am not afraid.”

Felipe Martinez

Felipe Martinez, Squatter

“I want the people stay together and try to get to the finals of this thing because actually we are not moving to this fact. We will stay here until they find wah spot fi make we live in because we got no where to go. We will stay, I will stay personal with my people here because all of them, they are not happy with what happened here. I put my face also and if I have to go until I dead.”

Some of the squatters held up their passports and identification cards to prove they are Belizeans since some talk shows call them aliens.  Attorney and PUP standard bearer for Queens Square, Anthony Sylvester arrived an hour late to offer support to the crowd.

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney

Anthony Sylvestre

“Belizeans who are unable to find land elsewhere, other parts of the city and they are forced to actually come and chop out piece of land and basically have this become their own property. You have this gentleman, Paul, he’s a registered voter in Queens Square, in the Prime Minister’s constituency. So dah noh only people who supposedly dah just immigrants but you have Belizeans who are also behind here trying to make a life along with the other persons. The constitution of Belize gives every person, not only Belizeans, every person who lives and resides in Belize gives them certain rights and one of the rights is that you can’t just come and destroy property. People property, where people deh work hard and they toil and sweat and build something within their means that they call home. None of these people have the authority to order police officers to order security personnel to demolish the homes of citizens. The national lands act sets out what are the extent of the powers of the minister of lands and the commissioner of lands. And they have no power to do that. And the police they must be following instructions, but they also must tell the political bosses that look we are separate and apart from you and we have a duty to uphold the law.”

Though everyone has an angle of concern about the land and its use, the fact remains that people with proof of their Belizean identity, will continue to sleep under the stars. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

According to a government release this afternoon, the Ministry of Human Development is providing three families with temporary accommodation and assistance with other basic needs. However, there are two other families that are currently being housed by Belizeans for Justice and also need government support.

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23 Responses for “We wont move; Squatters, Cola and Belizeans for Justice”

  1. From the West says:

    Cola and Belizeans For Justice are very quickly loosing all credibility. They are suppose to stand up and support the laws of the land. Shame on them.

  2. Moron Country says:

    Come on Ms. Shakron, would Belizeans be able to do this crap in any of our surrounding neighboring countries? I don’t believe what Dean “Baby” O is doing, but don’t we have our own problems and our own people to tend to first. If Belizeans pulled this stunt in Guate or Honduras we would be sprayed with bullets more than likely, or beaten to a pulp and thrown in jail. The least GOB can do is gather all their belongings and pay for a nice, comfortable bus to take them back to their country, its their problem after that. Born Belizeans first people, if you are not at least 3rd generation Belize i don’t think you have the right to say diddly squat in Belize, cause after 3rd gen you have earned your right to be called Belizean. My two and a half cents, inflation folks, inflation.

  3. Lucas says:

    “WHERE THERE IS NO VISION, THE PEOPLE PERISH….”(Pro.29;18). If govt. would use foresight instead of hindsight, a little breeze would not become a full blown hurricane. If potencial problems were identified and dealt with from its’ inception before it becomes full blown, there would be no need of using high-handed force and govt. would not have to weather storms of criticisims. On the other hand, it is more honorable for a hungry person to beg, rather than steal. Proverbs 29:18 ends like this “….BUT HAPPY IS HE WHO KEEPS THE LAW”. No matter what the needs are, it is not a license to break the law and no matter how it is spinned, that is exactly what squatting and blocking highways and streets is. Believe you me, no matter how sad, moving and heart-breaking it is, there was no way the squatters would move except by force. The more dire the situation is, the more a loving parent would want to shield their children from danger. To shield behind children is the lowest extreme of cowardice. To put children in harms way is the hight of irresponsiblity. It is not a show of how desperate the need is but of recklessness and lack of mental competence. And to top it off, we have so called leaders like Shakron, Sulph and Co. agitating the people but, a true CAPTAIN would never commit it’s troops to danger unnecessarily. Then we have cheap lawyers who proclaim the rights under the law but not the obligations thereof. There is also self-serving politicians who are smelling blood and are gathering for the kill. These leaders, lawyers and politicians are using these unsuspecting poor people for selfish gain and to settle old score with Barrow but, God forbid blood is spilled, it will be in the hands of these agitators. It is true that number one law-breaker of the land is BARROW HMSELF but that is no license for others to do the same for it is written: ” DO AS THEY SAY BUT NOT AS THEY DO”(Matthew 23:3).

  4. T says:

    I do sympathize with them but that does not mean they can just go and squat on private land. We do not live in the stone ages where people can just go and claim land because they were the first ones there. The rule of law should be respected and obeyed.

  5. Truth says:

    Definitions:
    Tyrant: A cruel and oppressive ruler; A person exercising power or control in a cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary way.
    Despot: A ruler or other person who holds absolute power, typically one who exercises it in a cruel or oppressive way.

    Every morning i listen to the national anthem at 6 am. But when the third phrase comes in (No tyrants here linger, despot must flee) i stop and think about what is happening with all this chaos in Belize. I always pause at that phrase because it just doesn’t feel right.

    I have no land to live on and i rent. But do i have right to a piece of land on this country? No, I don’t have the right. I should have the right but looking at what is happening with these people makes me realize that I don’t. Its been taken away by these tyrants and despots. Could you imagine that people from other country come and become Property Owner of lands here. Now because we don’t have the money we can’t get.

    I can understand that they didn’t had the right to that place. But they have the right to a place to build their house and call their home. I can understand that if i have a property that is mine and someone else comes and builds their house on the corner i wouldn’t be happy. But the way the did it is what i don’t agree with.

    We must enforce our anthem:

    “No tyrants here linger, despot must flee
    This tranquil haven of democracy “

  6. Heny says:

    These people need land; but that does not give them the right to go and squat on land is planned to be developed. The whole idea of squatting is that u get the land you occupy and posses after 12years in which the legal owner of the land has not madea move to eject you from the land. What these squatters are basically saying is that Mr Government you cannot chase us out of your land even though you have the right to do so under squatting laws.

    PS COLA and Belizeans For Justice are political parties whom one day wish to be in the seat of power.

  7. BZNinCALI says:

    I do not see this as a race issue or a Belizean versus immigrant issue, it is simply, right & wrong. If what I have read over the last few months is correct, a lot of these homes were built after these people realized that the road was being pushed through. Homeless women & children are placed in front of us to gain our sympathy,

    Can someone explain to Yolanda & Moses that we need to look at what lawlessness has done to our society? There are sections of Belize where most of us are afraid to go in broad daylight. First, we ask the Government to allow what will become a major thoroughfare to be taken over by people who refuse to obey the law, please tell me who will be blamed when these same people decide that it is time to tax you for access to this bridge? We have to have defensible spaces & a pile of shacks & houses only accessible to those residents by alleys & whatever makeshift bridges can be created to make the rainy season bearable, this will become a breeding ground for more crimes. If a community is built by people who choose to disobey the law, we can only expect more of the same.

  8. OriginalWoman says:

    Cudos to you & your supporters Ms. Shakron….Keep up the good work you are doing….these ppl need the support of good, concious thinking Belizeans…With all the under-developed land in Belize that are available, I think the government is acting selfish and cruel to these ppl….I don’t care who was born where, or not…They are all people, some of them children and babies, who ARE BELIZEAN CITIZENS……Shame on you Mr. Boots Martinez, I don’t like the arrogant, unfeeling way you conducted yourself at all….we have the same last name, but I hope we are NOT related!!!!

  9. Storm says:

    I absolutely concur with your sentiments, BZNinCALI.

  10. JG says:

    A LETTER TO MR. D.O. BARROW

    QUESTION: Mr. barrow, i live in the belama area of belize city. and hearing opinions from friends, family, neighbors and store owners in the area, people in the belama area dont want this bridge to be built. WHY is this project still going through? we have enough bad, hard times to deal with, seeing that the only police station in that area has been closed down, which after that point a store right across the street proceeded to be robbed with shots being fired and the suspect “jumped into the river to make his escape good”. you think that man lives in the river?? DUH!!! Tthat bridge will not solve problems of traffic in the morning commute to work/school.

    QUESTION: why not instead, rebuild the kendall bridge that we hear your government has been promising for so long? already, its hurricane season again, what’s holding that bridge back???

    QUESTION: what is your rush to build this bridge in belama? how many kronie’s have their hand in this project??? is it so important to make waves to push people out of their homes? people who include many very young children, and lots of poor people??? to me it seems like the wrong political move. this is just going to be PUP fodder come election time, the same way they still talk about xmas time retrenchment so many years ago.

    This so very closely resembles a situation where you were strongly opposing when a certain former prime minister was going to buy UHS and teh belize people also strongly opposed. you criticized musa for not making a democratic decision, saying the majority of belizeans did not want to spend. well, listen to us now. WE DONT WANT THIS BRIDGE BUILT.

    Belama is a residential community that so far has been relatively undisturbed when it comes to crime, until recently. giving criminals another outlet to escape the laws arms is not a good idea. what is teh motivation behind this bridge???

    thank you for your time.
    sincerely,
    BELIZE

  11. do it right says:

    Well said BZNinCALI. These organizations has lost credibility and has been manipulated by politics so much so that they have resorted to supporting lawlessness and criminal activity. Whether they are Belizean born or not is not the issue here, its the building on properties that are not theirs. They trying to twist this in their favor just to try to gain sympathy and for their own political agenda. I have personal experience in the procedures for getting a piece of land, and for Moses and Shackron, who think its something quick, its not. The process takes some time and these people should be glad that GOB is giving them lands to live on. While every other Belizean go thru due process in attaining a piece of land, these people are breaking the law. They are all playing the race card to move away from the real issue which is the illegal settling by these people. Majority of Belizean are not stupid Moses and Shackron. You can hold as many press conferences as you want, they are still breaking the laws.

  12. I Have Awaken says:

    We are living in a time where people in power commit acts of heresy with complete impunity, isn’t it obvious that the leaders that be does not really care of the outcries of this country? They have acquire so much wealth thus power that is does not matter what THE PEOPLE want; for the THE PEOPLE is of little value and their voice of little value and what they demand of little value and so on and so forth. What we are seeing is a connection of our little jewel to a global elite that no one wants to publicly acknowledge but they sure as hell acknowledge it in the privacy of their home–people aren’t stupid or blind–just scared; Belizeans are following the great thinker and philosopher Rene Descartes’ revelation and retreat from exposure, as expressed by the motto: “to live well you must live unseen.”

    This is a disheartening disposition that speaks volumes and sadly carries on to this day across the world. The use of fear, intimidation and other time tested variations of oppression continue to persist as the dominant institutions of our society work to protect it’s established orders regardless of social validity. Even more, the overall cultural itself, which invariably tends to support the accepted beliefs put forward by those that define “power” of a period, also tends to condemn those who choose to pose a challenge as it becomes a threat to the mass accepted identity itself.

    The result is that many simply are not willing to risk their lives, occupations and reputations to challenge the orthodoxy of the time. Thus, people like Ms. Shakron, Matura Shepard and others like them are standing up against the status quo and risking their very lives, occupations and reputations to challenge this orthodoxy of the time; yet it is evident, right here on Channel5′s forum, that you have those ready and willing to condemn these people who chose to pose a challenge.

    we can sympathize with Descartes’ notion, as to move against the Zeitgeist is to position yourself against the odds, regardless of how empirical, necessary or obvious the truth you wish to convey and act upon is.

    Unfortunately, Descartes’ position is unacceptable in the modern world. The risks that now exist within our current order are beginning to far outweigh the temporal personal risks generated by the act of activist objection itself.

    It is no longer issues of accurate data, “rights” and “freedoms”.
    Today our very stability as a civilization is now in question and, if left unhindered, it threatens us all, regardless of one’s position in the modern feudal hierarchy.

    So, we can sit in confusion and watch as global unemployment rises due to technological employment and the resulting regional instability that is sure to grow. We can stare blankly at the systematic debt collapse of the world economy, country by country, like dominos, as self-appointed global banking institutions that derive money out of nothing impose austerity measures against the poor and middle class of each country to help support the wealthy, furthering the income divide…and think we are not connected!

    We can twiddle our thumbs as what we have called “democracy” turns inexplicably into global plutocracy and the world economy becomes measured by how much money the rich move around amongst themselves. We can distract ourselves with our little gadgets as the rain-forests – considered by many to be the “lungs” of this planet – are destroyed at faster and faster rates, reducing our ability to absorb the growing CO2 in the atmosphere. We can keep the TV on as the clean water and food shortages that currently affect over 1 billion people continue to grow to 2 billion… 3 billion. We can scan the tabloids at the grocery store news stands as the very basis of industrial civilization, the Hydrocarbon Economy, inches towards crisis scarcity with virtually no active initiative taken to change course….and think we are not connected!

    We can continue to pretend that our “leaders” are anything but “mis-leaders”, set in motion by monetary commercial interests that follow the rules of the free-market with all legislation and offices going to the highest bidder, one way or another… and we can stand amused as a new global arms race gains speed as each country comes to terms with the very real reality that wars for resources are upon us in a way unlike any period in history….and think we are not connected!

    This is what separates our world from the one Descartes hid from.

    The fact is, the fear tactics of the Orthodoxy are no longer worthy of viable concern or even acknowledgment. At no time in history has any true social change come in a manner that was not opposed with hostility by the dominant orders of the time. If you choose fear, then fear exists and those little lists/tactics held by the Intelligence/Police Agencies have merit. If you choose love, pride and self-respect then no accusations, lists, or threats can ever stop you. The trick now is in numbers and if we can gain critical mass and override the “divide and conquer” techniques used to keep the orthodoxy in place, the game is over….we are connected!

    Recognize the world as one system and the human species as a singular unit, sharing a common habitat.

  13. Belama Resident says:

    Belama Police station still closed down, hurricane season is here and the zinc roofing is dangerously unsecure. Pigeons have taken up residence in the police station and it is now one big pigeon nest!!!

  14. Cecilia says:

    Schakron and Sulph, just when I wanted to look up to you folks, you disappoint me terribly.

    I hope you would reconsider your positions on this issue, and walk with us true Belizeans who upholds the law, follow the yes- long line of applicants desperately waiting their turns to own a piece of our jewel. We accept that there are rules and procedures that governs this land and we do our best to abide and follow them.

    Please reconsider your positions. I call on all true Belizeans to take a firm stand against all sqatters.

  15. JG says:

    Remove Shyne barrow…..Supa G for Musical Ambassador!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Elgin Martinez says:

    If a survey was to be conducted in Belize City in regards to land ownership,The result would definately show that approximately 75% of the residents of Belize City aquired their land by squatting.As a result let’s stop acting like these people are the only squatters in the Jewel.We are wasting time on this issue while Belizean Citizens are been murdered and unemployed.Why not focus on job creation and ways to combat the crime situation that is presently affecting our people?.

  17. Elgin Martinez says:

    Kudos to Moses and Yolanda freedom is not cheap.Stand firm this is the only way change is going to come.Let these incompitent leaders know that their days are numbererd and that the Belizean people will no longer stand for nepotism.

  18. Kay says:

    Why doesn’t Shakron give the squatters a home at her house since she is so concerned for them. So many born and grown Belizeans live in Belize that don’t own where they lay their heads but do you see them illegally squatting. They rent homes for their convenience and don’t try to impose on others and then claim injustice when they are the ones causing it to be that way like these squatters are doing. Let them go through the legal way to get land like eveyone else and don’t try to bully anyone into feeling sorry for them.

  19. Zen says:

    Squatting is ILLEGAL. Should not be condoned and actually should have been dealt with a long time ago…. Now…..how the people on Chetumal Street was moved…..was wrong. HOW it was done….was just not right….it was inhumane.

  20. LARGE AND SEXY says:

    AND I WANT TO ASK YOLANDA WHERE IS THE COMPASSION FOR THE BELIZEAN POOR FROM THE SOUTHSIDE, HMMM, IT SEEMS YOU HAVE COMPASSION FOR THESE ILLEGAL ALIENS, NOW I ASK YOU THE SAME .
    BELIZEANS FOR JUSTICE IS A SHAM, SHAM, NO SHAME, ONCE THEY ARE PART OF PUP.
    FOR YOUR INFORMATION PEOPLE, YOU DEFENDING ALIENS WILL NOT MAKE BELIZEANS VOTE PUP, WE ARE SEEING THERE TRUE COLORS FOR WHO THEY ARE.

  21. Roy Yates says:

    Many of you who that make comments about government versus the people froget that in a democracy its government for the people by the people; The people own the government folks; they are hired servants by the vote of the people who pay their salaries from taxation. That been the reality of the day, the government should make a decision about the use of the land for the better good of the people, and if it show that using the land to provide shelters for its citizens is more appropiate, then so should it be.

    Someone once said that to have power is to know when not to use it. Two wrong does not make one right. Do unters as we would that they should do unto oneself. Its not only what we do, but how we do it.

  22. judith says:

    why are they still making a seen,let then go rent a house and then apply for a piece of land or save there money and buy apiece of land it not hard to do.I don’t understand ppl like those fool defending those ppl..the should come down south and help those children that are been abuse.

  23. redgirl says:

    I have read all the comments here and it comes down to one issue for me. As i understand it squatting is illegal. Where was the goverment when this squatting first started, if it is the law it shouldn’t be allowed in the first place. But because it was allowed and it is in goverment way to build this bridge everyone is up in arms. Are we a people who use the law as we seem fit? I think so if it doesn’t affect you close you eye. In Belize cemetery there are should I say squatters living in there. Who allow people to build a house and live in the cemetery it is suppose to be for the dead to rest. Again everyone close there eyes to this issue no one is up in arms no bulldozers to throw them out. I agree with the Minister that the squatters have to get off the land the method use was inhumane because there are children we have to preserve life at all cost, but if this was taken care of a lot earlier if could have avoid a lot of trouble. Now these squatters jump in line for land and govement will give it to them I think we should all play crazy to get what we want from our Goverment It is that easy.

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