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Apr 4, 2014

Squatters removal imminent

On Thursday, News Five visited the plight of squatters on Holy Emmanuel Street, many of whom have been there for years. Squatters, Belizeans and immigrants, find a piece of unused government land – usually in some long-ignored swampy area – and they build a home. They are poor and do not have the resources to manoeuvre the complicated and often skewed bureaucracies of government departments. They have no papers, and no legal entitlement to the land, but they work and sweat and bleed to provide shelter for their families. Squatters evoke mixed reactions, and the current situation on Holy Emmanuel Street is no exception. But mixed reactions don’t change the reality – many of these families will lose their homes, and many will have to start all over again. Today Mike Rudon returned to Holy Emmanuel Street and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The work must go on…and it is.  Crews continue to break down loads of fill which are trucked in. But somehow, in the midst of progress, workers have found a way to delay the inevitable. They are filling around the homes and in open areas. But it is what it is…delaying the inevitable, and these squatters know that eventually they will have to go. The thing is…they have nowhere to go, and nowhere to turn.

 

Karen Enriquez, Squatter

Karen Enriquez

“Today some of them were helping us move the things. We want to say thanks to those people who helped us today. Some of them were asking us if we don’t have anywhere to go live now and we were like come on…nobody was telling us we had to move. And then the big man came today and he said that he already came to us and talked to us about what would happen…what was the procedure…he said that he will fill underneath the house…he will fill everything and then we will be relocated. But that didn’t happen. Because when he came he said to Ms. Reina Zavala don’t worry ma’am your house is safe you are safe, so why would we be worried if somebody told you not to worry.”

 

It’s a situation which has united this small squatter’s community and gone far beyond race, or even country of origin. In the end it all comes down to losing everything, and not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

 

Luwiena Garnett

Luwiena Garnett, Squatter

“Dey pipple deh yah eight years and fu done struggle inna mud and water…you no know how much mud and water dey pipple face. Dey pipple face many problems back ya. The big heads deh no deh back ya fu see it yu know. Da who feel it could seh it.”

 

Karen Enriquez

“Right now what we are planning to do is to see if we can gather some money to go to a lawyer…a professional. We need professional help. I think this is out of our hands. I don’t know what to do now…I am so disappointed right now. I feel so sad. I am losing my house, I am seeing other people’s house getting so close to being lost and I just can’t take it anymore.”

 

Luwiena Garnett lives in the community with her five children. This morning she was out on the site to show support for those who are in immediately, imminent danger of losing their homes.

 

Luwiena Garnett

“We da human being mein. I mean fu seh that if life neva good ya fu me, I mi wah hafto go somewhere else fu find life. We da human being…all a we da God pikni. We deh ya fu wah purpose, we deh ya fu wah reason. If we neva needed ya we neva mi wah deh ya. Right, and I believe that I could come stand up fu dey same way…black, white, i no matter, cause once yu have love inna yu heart, yu wah feel weh somebody else feel, dey problems weh dey deh feel. I mean fu seh da sin mein. Da sin fu knock roof over dey three kids head. It could happen to me. It could happen to anybody. E no rain pon one man housetop. E rain pon everybody housetop when it rain.”

 

Garnett is a Belizean, but she faces the plight which every one of the squatters face. They have no money, and no access to a piece of the jewel. And she knows that her home may soon be in jeopardy, prey to expanding development in the area.

 

Luwiena Garnett

“Me they hafto scrape me out of my home with my kids. I wah fight and they wah hafto kill me deh. I will not move because I deh inna mud and water to my knee. Nobody neva know the price I midi pay when I come seek wah land. We can’t go da housing and Lands Department and seh we need wah land…we cannot because we noh have it…we poor. We noh have it like that.”

 

Belizeans have mixed reactions to squatters. After our story on Thursday several viewers complained about providing a forum for people who just squat on land and think they have rights. Karen Enriquez knows that sentiment is against them, and it is just another blow to the already reeling Honduran mother of three, who came to Belize for a chance at a better life.

 

Karen Enriquez

“Yes maybe we don’t have no rights but I think as a human being we have rights and then we have kids, Belizean kids. My three kids were born here at Karl Heusner. So I think they have rights. I think they need a piece of land…I think. So I’m asking those people who say they don’t have rights to please…try put yourself in our situation just a minute to know what it is to have a piece of land and work hard on it…all your effort, all your money, all your everything going down…going to garbage, going to nowhere. Just have a little bit of conscience…try help us…Belizeans please help us. We are asking for help. We don’t know what to do, we don’t know where to go, please help us.”

 

None of the squatters we spoke to had been able to contact Lake Independence Area Representative Mark King, despite visiting his office and calling and texting his phone. Reporting for News Five, I am Mike Rudon.

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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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9 Responses for “Squatters removal imminent”

  1. MOSES x says:

    This no doubt is a sad story. The solution ultimately should be affordable housing for the poor by the government. Sadly we know where the Chavez $ meant for housing for the poor went.

    On the on the hand I see women with multiple children with no poppa in sight or not even present to defend their homes. This is another Belizean tragedy that needs to be addressed. Women with no money and poor who also feel natures inevitable call for love and reproduction. They have one child after another looking for the perfect baby daddy who will take care of them and their kids but alas like dogs the men move on leaving these poor women to fend for themselves living in clapboard houses with plastic roofs in swampy leaky homes. So sad.

  2. Renee says:

    so we who buy land, pay taxes and respect others land rights must subsidize these who just see an empty land and go live on it? then cry when the owner comes? how facet-let them work and buy it or go back from whence they came. We Belizeans cant get a piece and these immigrants come and get it? I am sure Rod will say see how this government treats spanish, but #%^* -they are getting facet by the day-they should leave

  3. Bull says:

    Oh please!!! If I go squat on a piece of land, they won’t hesitate to move me or many others in that matter. Now because they crying out they poor, we should just let them be?? Hell no. I am poor too and may I not remind them of the poverty rate in Belize and how many people may have it worse than them but still don’t do what they do. Squatting is wrong, and they should realize how wrong they are. There is no excuse. So all Belizeans without a piece of land should just follow their examples and squat?? Let’s see how that would play out.

  4. Greeneyes says:

    Seriously… I can’t feel sorry for these people!!! i want to see the fool that will represent them!!! I am 31 born and grown Belizean, willing to pay for land and can’t get any. Pay all my taxes and you want me to feel sorry for these people, who left their own country cause they have nothing and want we to help them…..they couldn’t pull that where there from…these are the people that will always continue to cause proverty in our country…. really they have to deal with mud and water… who tell you to go live there and then rail up when nobody want to help you…. pls on to the next….inrelevevant.

  5. Bull says:

    @ Ms. Garnett yes humna being….that are STEALING and taking things that you KNOW is not yours. You in mud and water, but who sent you there in the first place? Why should it be our concern? And Enriquez why should we help you? What you are doing is wrong. Tired ah uno squatters, you all need to be moved out. As they find uno, move uno. Until uno get inna uno head that squatting is wrong, charge uno tu.

  6. CEO says:

    They should have expected it from the time they choose to squat on land that is not yours.

    I place the blame squarely on the GOB and every GOB before this one! There is no system in place that will allow people to acquire land. Instead of allowing the building a slum the GOB should also come up with a way to help people work to find a way to pay for a more decent place to live. They may all be too busy finding ways to scam the public coffers.

  7. Reality Check says:

    Looking at these people squatting on land that is not for them makes me just want to turn my head on their story. Please go back to your country and try to make things work for you there. Belizeans are still trying to get land for ourselves. There is no land for immigrants ! Sorry !

  8. r-dale says:

    simple, just go squat some where else for a while. problem solved.

  9. chica says:

    Yes sometimes in life we all have to take risk.!! and yes there is a live or die end..but the promises of a minister have power and as much as we are wrong, we have rights too. But I do hope you guys understand that only the rich and powerful people owned most of our belizean land…i am a proud Belizean

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