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#489010 - 04/04/14 05:49 AM The Bridge Cometh, The Squatters Goeth
Marty Online   happy
In June of 2011, we told you about the mass removal of the squatters off the area which was called Chetumal Street South. It was to make way for the building of a road which would join the Western Highway with Belama's Chetumal Street.

Since then, it has now become known as the Lake I Boulevard, and as we showed you the Government turned it into a pro-poor initiative where the contractors used 200+ Belize City men to spread the loads of sand by hand to provide employment while building the road.

The project is fast approaching the area of the road where a new bridge will be built, but there's just one problem. There have been squatters living in the area, and now, they are being told that they need to move to make way for the development.

It's reminiscent of the situation which happened in 2011, and so Daniel Ortiz visited with a few of those families being forced off the land. Here's what he found out:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
These family continued to look on, helplessly, as the loads of sand kept coming in today. It is inching closer and closer to their homes, ominously, as the government's project threatens to overrun - or even push their houses down.

It's been happening like that for weeks where the Government's pro-poor initiative to build the Lake I Boulevard to a new bridge which will connect the Western Highway to Chetumal Boulevard in the Belama area, is slowly encroaching on the only piece of space these families call home.

Make no mistake. These people aren't delusional; they know very well that they have been squatting for years. They just have nowhere to go, and they say their meager income just doesn't allow for them to pay rent and raise their families.

Alirio Zavala - Being Pushed Out
"They are telling me every day that I have to move my house from this spot to another spot, but they don't give me a piece of land to where I can move. I got no problem moving my house but I need a spot because I have like 8 years living in this house. I don't want to pay any rent because everything is expensive and I get a small salary. If they give me a piece of land I will move. I will not disturb them from doing their job, but I need a piece of land. I don't spend time in my house; I only live working and working. My house is only for my wife and my kids."

Daniel Ortiz
"How many kids do you have sir?"

Alirio Zavala - Being Pushed Out
"3 kids; one is at school and this one and the twin."

Karen Henriquez - Being Pushed Off Land
"The situation is that we are told we need to move and they are filling the lands with us inside."

Jorge Velasquez - Being Pushed Out
"My kids go to high school; my son is 15 years old. He is in 3rd form, my daughter is in standard 4 and they have to get their education because I don't have high school diploma, but I want my kids to have it, so I have to work hard and squat on a land so that I don't take my money to pay rent but to pay for their education."

Daniel Ortiz
"Let's say for example whoever comes and move you off this piece of land, where will your family go?"

Alirio Zavala - Being Pushed Out
"I don't know because I have nowhere to go. I will be homeless."

Karen Henriquez - Being Pushed Off Land
"I have nowhere to go; I am homeless if they take me out of this house."

Desperation brought them to this area, and though they live a difficult life of uncertainty, they believe they deserve peace of mind

Alirio Zavala - Being Pushed Out
"I have 8 years living in this place and they say that a house claim a land after 5 years. I know that every Belizean got the right to get a piece of land. If I go to the Lands Department I never get anything. I could go many times there and they would tell me the same thing "there is no land," so they force the Belizeans to go and chop down a piece land that belongs to the government."

Karen Henriquez - Being Pushed Off Land
"I want to say to all the Belizeans - some of them are with us and some of them are against us (to the squatters I am speaking). I want to say sorry to those who are against us and I want to say sorry to the government because we came here and we squat and we know that it is wrong and against the law to do that but we needed it. We don't have the money to pay rent. We are persons that you can call the lower class that we work every day, but as we work and we get our money it is for our food and our kids."

The workers spreading the sand tell us that a total of 20 houses will have to be removed to make way for the sand.

Channel 7

#489050 - 04/05/14 05:47 AM Re: The Bridge Cometh, The Squatters Goeth [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Squatters Beg For Some Solution

Last night, you saw the squatters who were getting in the way of the construction of Lake I Boulevard which will connect the Western Highway with Belama's Chetumal Street. The reports we were getting on the ground were that 20 houses and 100 people needed to move. Tonight, we've confirmed with the contractor that based on their official survey, only 6 of those houses will have to be moved from where they're currently located.

But since yesterday, the group of people who believed that they were being forcibly removed for the development, have been trying convince the Government to basically leave them be. Things got confrontational this morning when the loads of clay ended up right at the door step of one those houses in the way, and we went back to find out what would be their fate. Daniel Ortiz reports:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
The truck loads of clay kept on coming, and the workers kept pushing it down, edging the development closer and closer to the houses which are in the way.

Strictly speaking, these workers aren't doing anything wrong. They are just following the orders of the contractor.

They have families to feed, and they can only do so by doing the job they were paid to do.

The adults squatting in this location looked on helplessly, while children ran around and played around adjacent to the dangers of the heavy equipment.

There was nothing that they could do. Tears of frustration flowed freely.

Karen Henriquez - Being Pushed Off Land
"This morning we were here and we ask the man if they are going to go farther than that and they say no they are going to stay there. You can look at the barrels; they are filled with dirt and mud. The water in there is what we use to wash and bathe with. I am so disappointed, I don't know what to do, I don't know where to go because now we are hearing that Mark King is saying that there people only have two years living here and that we are making a lot of noise. Come on, don't be a liar, tell the truth. He knows that we are here for a long time. When he needed to get into power I saw him coming in through that broken up bridge and he came and ask every one of us for votes. Now that we need him he can't face us."

Daniel Ortiz
"The impression that people are getting at this moment is that it's only an immigrant community that is trying to form here."

Luwiena Garnett - Squatter
"All of us are poor people and then we need a piece of land in life. We came and we squat because we went to the government and they are not giving us any land, they don't have anything to give us because we are poor and black, so we come to squat - find something for us to earn and we have our children. What will happen to our children later days to come? They will cannot own anything if we can't own it now."

Karen Henriquez - Being Pushed Off Land
"I feel so disappointed. I am sorry I am crying. It's not a drama that I am doing here, but seeing the fact that the place we work so hard to get is just going to the garbage."

Since yesterday, we've been trying to reach Lake I Area Representative Mark King for comment, but he hasn't responded or the rest of the media.

This evening, we spoke with Francis Woods, The Director of Cisco Construction, the company which is in charge of the development. Woods told us that they've done an official survey and only 6 houses stand in the way of the development on Lake I Boulevard. He added that it his understanding that efforts will be made to help those in the way to move their houses out of the way. He tells us that Mark King has been handling the situation.

Channel 7

#489191 - 04/08/14 06:06 AM Re: The Bridge Cometh, The Squatters Goeth [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Hon. King Says Squatters Need To Move

All last week we showed you those squatters on the area known as Lake Independence Boulevard - which will lead to the new bridge cross from Belama into Lake Independence. There are 6 families and they are playing the sympathy card to the max by begging government to find somewhere to put them.

That falls to area representative Mark King. We'd been trying to reach him all last week and he agreed to an interview today. He explained that asking for land in Lake I is asking to get into a long line:...

Hon. Mark King
"They concur with the government. They moved, we got the contractor to assist them to move whatever - their houses are very small and so we believe we can move them. But at the end of the day they can't force us to just find a piece of land and give it to them. I have to wait for that information to come in to know where there is land and a sub-division is being done. Again if that information comes in and there is no land available then I simply can't give it to them. I would apply for them at the Lands Department just like regular folks that I apply for."

Jules Vasquez
"So if they enter the line, they have to enter it at the back?"

Hon. Mark King
"I will look at the situation like the Gaynair case, I will give it a little privilege priority if they comply, but if they continue to resist then I've said, this is not Cuba, they are going to have it one way or another - they are going to go."

Channel 7


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