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Aug 7, 2014

City Council Issues Eviction Notice to Commercial Center Vendors

While the dust has settled on the dispute between sanitation workers and city hall, there is another storm brewing. That’s because Mayor Darrell Bradley wants to convert the commercial center into offices for City Hall. That move would leave small entrepreneurs, who have been at the commercial center for years without a place to conduct business. Today, they received notices that they need to move in next few days. Duane Moody has been following this story.


Duane Moody, Reporting

The commercial center at market square in downtown Belize City is a landmark in the Old Capital. It was rehabilitated back in 1992, but the building has dilapidated. That aside, it houses up to thirteen businesses including flower shops, jewelry stores, restaurants, several pawnshops and a local vendor. Several departments of the Belize City Council as well as a municipal court are located on the upper floors. But there are changes afoot and today entrepreneurs say they have received letters of eviction to vacate the booths by August eleventh.


Selbert Butler

Selbert Butler, Owner, Selflora Designs

“All of us in here, we are no foolish people, we understand and we know that this building needs serious renovation. Our problem is that we are just asking the mayor to give us a little bit more time and maybe help us financially if he could because it is not easy to move from one location to another location. We are talking about five hundred dollars just to put in your light; the cheapest place you can get is about six hundred dollars a month; you are talking about at least seventeen hundred dollars a month you’d need just to move your business. You are not talking about the other stuff. So if you don’t have probably three, four thousand dollars, you can’t move.”


Duane Moody

“But weren’t you guys sensitized enough to know that this would have happened? That you would have to move?”


Selbert Butler

“Yes and no. What happen, they had a meeting. Miss Burke, who is the City Administrator and Miss Sharlene Rudon, who is the Human Resources Director; they came and said listen, this is our plan. We want you to be a part of this plan. So we will have this first meeting and we will have a subsequent meeting to inform us exactly when you all will need to move and we will speak to the mayor and see how we can assist you all in moving.”


Carlos Medina

Carlos Medina, Businessman

“We get a notice verbally in March that we have to come out in April. After that, things get peaceful, I don’t know for what reason and in July they gave us another verbal notice to come out in August. They sent us a letter after that that we have to come out by fourth of August. I am not against coming out, it is against the time they give us and I feel that we shoulda get a place or the mayor or the city council shoulda mi find a place to put us.”


According to the vendors, they are being forced out because of a project to renovate the Commercial Center. Mayor Darrell Bradley has gone on record to say that there are plans to make the commercial center the new offices of City Hall. But while the entrepreneurs are in support of the renovation, some are asking for more time or assistance. Eighty year old Carlos Medina says he has nowhere to go after over twenty-two years of business.


Carlos Medina

“I’m an eighty year old man; I’ve been working all my life now all of a sudden I am lost. There is nowhere to go, or to take out my things; I got nowhere to put it. I will have to find a way. I feel bad about it because lotta people will have to go through the same thing like what I am going. But being the oldest one in the market in here, they should have some kind of consideration.”


Selbert Butler

“The move will affect us financially first of all and the mayor is not giving us time to move. He is pushing us to move within, come by Monday. I understand they said that if we don’t move, they will use draconian tactics and lock us out.”


For Irene Swaso, her livelihood is being threatened. She has been operating her fruits and vegetable shop since 1992 and says that she needs assistance. Swaso says that she has been offered a spot at the Michael Finnegan Market, but it is too soon.


Irene Swaso

Irene Swaso, Fruits & Vegetable Vendor

“For me to have this business twenty-one years all my life. From before this market, I raised all my kids here—my oldest daughter is forty-six years old, I raise her here. At the old market, I went to the other market and then I came back to the market right here…twenty-one years…all my life are here and now for them to just come and throw us out, just one month. I think this is hard. He is supposed to give us some time. We supposed to leave because they have to do business with the renovation to the market I agree, but that time is too quit. It is hard for us. Where will our customers find us? What kind of business we will be able to do in that short space of time. We can’t even tell the customers where we are.”


It is not known if after the renovations, booths will be made available for the vendors, who will be displaced. Duane Moody for News Five.

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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2 Responses for “City Council Issues Eviction Notice to Commercial Center Vendors”

  1. Simon says:

    what is the issue with squatters nowadays?-it is not your property-the owner can do as he wants-that is the risk with a lease-you want certainty-then buy a land and build an office-take a risk , borrow money and pay interest or complain when they move you-jesus-you want to be business people and dont understand the basics?

  2. Baba says:

    And you should know those Draconian tactics very well Mr. Butler, as you were the head of the City council thug squad that harassed the vendors in the pound yard some years ago for the exact same reason.
    Karma’s a Bi*ch

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