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A protest for all causes and the squatters #409506
06/08/11 08:51 AM
06/08/11 08:51 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 73,350
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

It was not one of the biggest protests, but COLA and Belizeans for Justice stepped up pressure on the government today on a wide gamut of issues from the recent eviction of squatters to the expulsion of Marcel Cardona and the troubles in the transportation industry. The protesters did the talk and walked the walk for about two hours in downtown Belize City. Unlike last Wednesday’s protest, the crowd today was better organized and the police was less restrictive. News Five’s Jose Sanchez found the militant Moses Sulph and Yolanda Schakron, at the frontlines of their sustained protest.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Fresh from their impromptu strike on Bel China Bridge, Belizeans for Justice and COLA received a permit to demonstrate their displeasure with the government’s handling of the Chetumal Street squatters. The crowd gathered at Constitution Park at nine a.m.

Moses Sulph

Moses Sulph, President, COLA

“The purpose of this protest is basically to highlight that persons were displaced because their houses were torn down. And we want to highlight that we are calling on the government to relocate these people somewhere where they can start their lives again and get back to their regular lives. So this protest is not to say squatting is illegal or legal; we are saying that what was done was wrong—the way their houses were torn down—and we are saying now we are asking for you to relocate them. Give these people an alternative where they can build back their houses whole you assist them in surveying that area and cutting out that area.”

Yolanda Schakron

Yolanda Schakron, Belizeans for Justice

“Belizeans for Justice formed because of the crime situation, but we are here because of the bus situation, with the people who are unemployed, with the people who were taken off the land (the squatters). We are not advocating for illegal things, but what we are saying is it’s the way these people were taken off the land was wrong. They were violated, their human rights were violated and we are standing in solidarity with every injustice that is being committed in our country.”

It was a protest for all causes as many disenfranchised persons showed up. Family and friends of Mark and Gary Seawell who are facing extradition to the United States, protested the Justice system.

Ervin Seawell, Protesting for Detained Sons

“They no di get justice in the court. Justice fail we as far as I say. I heard that the Prime Minister done sign out our boys from long time. I just want the country know that dah we today, but one by one all ah we di suffer.”

Floyd Davis

Floyd Davis, Protesting for Detained Seawell Brothers

“What Mister Seawell is saying is that all he is asking for is for the government to give Mark and Gary Seawell due process which every Belizean born have a right to. They noh di ask for no hands out or nothing. We want the system work for Mark and Gary just like how the system work for Rhett and other people. Four and a half years under the Belize constitution, the only persons who are not entitled to bail is an accused murdered. Mark and Gary dah noh wah accused murderer ladies and gentlemen and we just need the Belizean fi know that that dah fi we son, dah fi we kid. If they can’t get justice here home dah Belize, when they go dah America, dehn dead. Guess why? Because I live it; I live it. Dehn dead. That dah thirty years. How can a forty-one year old man spend thirty years over deh?”

Gone but not forgotten, supporters of Orange Walk East Representative Marcel Cardona came to on his behalf.

Hadith Sosa

Hadith Sosa, Protesting for Marcel Cardona’s Upliftment Committee

“We are a uniformed group named the Upliftment Committee, which is under the Honorable Marcel Cardona. It is an independent committee; we are not under any political flags. And we stand here today in solidarity with the many injustices that this government has done to our people. Wherever there is an injustice, we will be out there standing in solidarity. Today we are here because we stand in solidarity with those people whose homes were destroyed here in Belize City. Yes it is something that happened here in Belize City but we are all Belizeans and we feel the pain too. Even way from Orange Walk, we can feel the pain of what people are going through here.”

Even the Belize Bus Association President, Thomas Shaw, drove in to send a message to the Ministry of Transport.

Thomas Shaw

Thomas Shaw, President, Belize Bus Association

“Basically everything coincides from one crisis to another—we have the citrus, we have the sugar industry, you have the bus industry, you have the lands. And what I am out here today for is to give my support and for us to be united. Our meeting today is to get our members united. United we stand; divided we fall. And basically today that is our main objective to get everybody back on board and for us to have a better industry in this country.”

And after singing the National Anthem the protestors left Constitution Park with chants for justice. Though the placards were small, the empathic messages read: “I want justice. I am a single mother with five children and I need a piece of land for my children and I.”

“Mister Boots, you are talking about immigrants? You forget you are an immigrant too? The only Belizeans here are the Mayan people.”

Felipe Martinez

Felipe Martinez, Squatter

“I hope the minister answer about fi we problem because we are hurting, the rain and everything. We want an answer from him. What they are going to do with us because it is the responsibility to look for us.”

Jose Sanchez

“If they can find land elsewhere maybe in the rural part of Belize district, would you be willing to go say to a different community, up the road?”

Felipe Martinez

“Well in the case, it woulda be too strong for us because we have too much buildings. But if he moves the buildings, then I don’t mind if they get another place for us.”

A fixed sign in a yard along the route on Central American Boulevard reads “From Roots to Fruits Only for Boots.” And though it is a land issue, the protestors’ anger is the fruit of Martinez’s comments after the destruction of their Chetumal Street homes. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Channel 5

Re: A protest for all causes and the squatters [Re: Marty] #409508
06/08/11 08:55 AM
06/08/11 08:55 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 73,350
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP


Hot on the heels of last week’s impromptu protest on the Belcan Bridge and the press conference in connection with the demolition of the homes of the squatters of Chetumal Street Extension, today it was back to the grind. Led by the two groups, Belizeans for Justice and the Committee Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, today the squatters and people supporting their cause gathered at the Constitution Park for a rally. The demonstrators were not stopped this time, because they had their necessary permit to carry on with their plan to demonstrate. That event took place on the south side of town before they reassembled at the park. This week, the Orange Walk East Upliftment Committee, headed by Area Representative, Marcel Cardona,traveled from that municipality to join the effort. Leading today’s charge was Hadith Sosa.

Hadith Sosa – Orange Walk East Upliftment Committee
“We’re all Belizeans and we have felt the pain from even in Orange Walk. Seeing the images on the newscast almost brought me to tears and many of us who belong to this Committee. I think it is very important to send those people up there a message that we people feel and that we are Belizeans and we can stand up for what we think is right.

Marion Ali - Reporter Do you feel your presence here will make a difference?

Hadith Sosa – Orange Walk East Upliftment Committee
“I think just the fact that we are here is making a difference because we are adding to the numbers that will contribute to send those people a message that more people are gathering up from around the country to come in solidarity with one cause which is the squatters that were removed.”

President of COLA, Moses Sulph, said they are not asking for anything unreasonable for the people.

Moses Sulph President, COLA
“We’re asking that the persons who were affected at the Emmanuel Extension, who their houses or homes were destroyed and broken down, we are asking the Government kindly relocate these people out of the area in which they say that they are going to do this development. I am more than certain that there is adequate amount of land within the same vicinity that can be surveyed. So the people are not saying that they don’t want to move but basically saying give them an alternative that they can get on with their lives. We are not here to debate the legality of squatting or anything that is beyond the issues, we are talking that human rights were violated and people need to get back to their lives.”

Marion Ali - Reporter
Tomorrow will make a week since the demolition of the homes and the protest, you have conducted several events since, you have spoken out; do you believe that Government is hearing your call?

Moses Sulph President, COLA
“I believe they are paying attention and I believe that what we are doing is step by step and we are hoping that by these steps that the Government will pay attention and just listen to the cries of the people who are suffering so we believe that it is effective. We just don’t know which of the rallies are going to get everything done but we believe that a journey begins a step so we are doing one step at a time and we are hoping that this matter can be solved amicably.”

Meanwhile, President of Belizeans for Justice, Yolanda Schakron, told Love News that the pressure the groups are putting under the government will only get stronger.

Yolanda Schakron – President, Belizeans for Justice
“We’re not saying that we are advocating for illegal things but the situation that our Belizean people are in right now makes people have to do certain things like squat because it is so hard to get a piece of land. The thing is the way these people were removed from their homes, they are not criminals like Mr. Martinez chose to say they are criminals, they are not, they are hard working people. I hate that they would come in and try to put in a race card, try to divide the people.

Marion Ali - Reporter What happens after this?

Yolanda Schakron – President, Belizeans for Justice
“After this we are planning to have a massive demonstration with people from the entire country. We have been getting a lot of phone calls from people who want to show their discontent because this is not only Belize City; the whole country is suffering right now.”


Re: A protest for all causes and the squatters [Re: Marty] #409574
06/09/11 08:12 AM
06/09/11 08:12 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 73,350
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

P.M. trounces squatters are opportunists preying on Belizean people

While the P.M. waits for B.E.L.’s Lynn Young to sit with him at a meeting on Friday to find out if Fortis will invest more into the company, others won’t have to wait to hear from the P.M. The Chetumal Street squatters held a small demonstration in Belize City on Tuesday morning. They want land and they made it clear they also wanted Barrow to speak. Barrow called the squatters exploitive and opportunists who wanted to ride the gravy train as well as prey on the sympathies of the Belizean people. Barrow said that those second wave of squatters did not live in the area where the bridge would be built but in other parts of the city.

Dean Barrow

“When there are those who, in the name of community organizations, when there are those that seek to insight mayhem and chaos instead of offering solutions to the undoubted problems that exist, I want you to remember that the vast majority, by far, the vast majority Citizens of this country are going about their lawful business day after day in an orderly and productive manner. In terms of the Chetumal Street Extension squatters, well I want to say to the media that I believe you’ve been had. There is no doubt in my mind that in addition to the few persons that were at that spot when the police conducted their operations, in addition to those persons who can make a case, a host of others coming from various areas including the area behind the burial ground, a host of other persons became extremely opportunistic, exploitative and sought to ride what they believed would become a gravy train—aided and assisted by those to whom I referred earlier in my remarks to you. Well government was never going to tolerate that.

Dean Barrow

The police insist that when they went there that morning, there were only two structures that were occupied—one by a lady with three children and we made provisions for that lady. The police did not dismantle the structure because the lady was very cooperative and said she would get out on her own, by twelve o’clock that day. And one other gentleman, who was a single occupier as far as the police could tell and he ran away. The others that descended on the spot and took children there in the early morning and then invited the camera in so they could hold up crying babies and prey on the sympathies of the Belizean people, are by and large fraudsters. And I make no apologies for saying this. As I said I don’t know if the media was duped or played along, for its own reasons, but I am satisfied that the government did what it was legally and morally obliged to do in this circumstances. You can tell me all you like about the fact that the processes in the Ministry of Natural Resources are not working in the way they should. You can tell me there are shortcomings. You can tell me that we need to do better at getting land to people who in fact apply and try to follow the normal procedures. And I can tell you that I accept the criticism; I’m sure the deputy Prime Minister would as well. The ministry had put themselves on location—they had not been there prior to the police operation—but even those were offered hotel accommodation for themselves and their children. And by the end of the day, all of them said no we won’t need to take up the offer. Now they didn’t say we’re going to go back where we live, they did say we would be able to find accommodations with friends and family—they went back where they lived.”

The Prime Minister says that the government has invested five million dollars in new management information system for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Lands Department so the procedures can be improved.

Channel 5

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