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Oct 17, 2013

Audrey Matura and client serves injunction against Fort Street Tourism Village

The Fort Street Tourism Village was created to give Belizean businesses an opportunity to profit from tourism. But for some time now, there has been a change in ownership and that implies that there are new contracts and rules for the tenants who have their businesses inside the duty free zone. Well since that change, it is being reported that several businesses have been forced to close; and foreign investors have taken over the village. Tensions have been brewing since early September and today it boiled over when one businesswoman decided that she was going to resist eviction. Owner of The Loom, a fabric store inside the Fort Street Tourism Village, is Suzanne Kilic. She says that she has invested over ten years into her business and will not be pushed aside. And so with the assistance of her Attorney, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Kilic got an injunction against FSTV to cease and desist…at least for twenty-eight days until the matter is dealt with in court. But this afternoon when Matura-Shepherd was ordered by the courts to serve FSTV with the injunction both she and her client were refused entrance to the premises. In fact, it wasn’t until she returned with the court bailiff and police officers that she was allowed to serve the injunction. News Five caught up with Kilic and Matura-Shepherd as they exited to find out more.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“We moved the court to get an injunction to prevent Fort Street Tourism Village from harassing my client and doing other things that the injunction addressed. Strange enough, the court asked that we serve it forthwith. So I came to ensure that we obeyed the order of the court and I was amazed that they would not allow me any entrance or access. Anyways unfortunately, we had to get the bailiff of the court and the police to come and assist and then there was no problem. But one of the things is too as the attorney for my client, it was important for me to come and see what is actually happening in the tourist village that has created this problem. And I realize the obstruction that they are trying to do to frustrate her to get out. They tried to illegal evict her and began harassing her; then they began obstructing her access to her building. Then contrary to the customs regulations and law, they threatened to take possession of her warehouse, which they cannot, and then they also decided today to obstruct her path so that she can’t access her warehouse to get her stuff.”

 

Suzanne Kilic, Owner, The Loom

“It’s all textiles for the home: bedcovers, table runners, pillows. I use authentic Belizean designs on the pillows even though I do import it. I take the designs from the natives like the Garifuna culture and the tourists absolutely love it. I get the same people coming back every year to buy from me.”

 

Suzanne Kilic

Reporter

“And of course it came as a slap in your face when…”

 

Suzanne Kilic

“I was shocked. After ten years I was completely shocked. Ten years is a long time.”

 

Reporter

“You are going to keep on pushing this until you get…”

 

Suzanne Kilic

“Yes, I have to. I feel it is justice.”

 

Reporter

“I know you must be losing business with this. Tell us about the extent of the loss that you are experiencing.”

 

Suzanne Kilic

“Well I’m in a terminal that has seven other tenants and they were smaller local Belizean non-duty free shops and they were all told they had to evacuate in thirty days. None of them felt that they had enough legal rights or didn’t understand what their rights were so they evacuated because I think they felt that pressure. So now I am in a terminal and I’m one of the only businesses operating, everybody else has left. So of course there is no foot traffic, no business coming in. And then all of those other local businesses are in a location where nobody can find them. So their regular customers are looking for them so we are all losing money, we are all losing business.”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“A lot of Belizeans when we were told that the tourism village will bring tourism and jobs for Belizeans, really the entity now apparently I’m told, is fully owned by Diamonds International and they are trying to get rid of all the locals from the main areas so that they take over only for their jewelry. So as a Belizean, I find that very disturbing that this is supposed to be the tourism they say they will bring for us and this is what is happening to our people. And a lot of them keep quiet because of the pressure that if you want to stay in some other little corner then you just go along.”

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2 Responses for “Audrey Matura and client serves injunction against Fort Street Tourism Village”

  1. Economic Progress says:

    It’s called Foreign Direct Investment Audrey!…….Get a REALLY BIG foreign company to invest in your local industries, retail or services and then PUSH out all the little Belizeans who want to make an honest living to feed and educate their families. ALL the profits can then be SHIPPED abroad…………i am surprised that YOU Audrey don’t understand what FDI really means.

  2. Don Squier says:

    Look out Belize! This is typical of what happens when the cruise ship industry slithers into a country. I’ve witnessed local water front business replaced by international diamond and jewelry merchants when cruise ship facilities were expanded in Cozumel Mexico. It sucked the life out of the water front leaving only the empty promises of jobs for local people. Now there is talk of a new cruise ship facility in the South. This must be resisted for Belize will lose and the tourist attractions are already overwhelmed by the cruise ship hordes.

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