We have covered this story many times before and this certainly won’t be the last; it’s about the never ending problems between market vendors and City Hall. For two days, small vendors selling their wares on the sidewalk at West Collet Canal have been moved at the instructions of City Hall. The vendors say they are simply trying to make a living. In the scuffle, one pregnant woman had to be taken to the hospital. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
Vendors outside the Michael Finnegan Market on West Collet Canal are once again in conflict with the City Council over relocation. Special Constables were in the area on Tuesday and again this morning, to remove persons selling goods on the sidewalks in front of the bus terminal and the Pound Yard compound. But the vendors say they were manhandled in the process.
Telma Coc, Vendor
“Di City council man come and tell we everybody have to move. He seh we can’t sell over yah. I tell he weh I gwein fi sell? I noh got nowhere weh pah I mi gwein fi sell. I noh got nowhere we pah I gwein fi sell, dah right yah I mek my living. I noh sell lot ah things, I just sell plantain chips, chicharon and pear. I noh get too much of a big space. Two times now, yesterday and today. they come this morning. I noh know weh happen to city council, they rough. They come fi rough up di people and want ker we dah court fi nothing. Me noh thief.”
Philip ‘Faada’ Henry
Philip ‘Faada’ Henry, Concerned Citizen
“I was told by a guy from City Council that he was told that the people should remain there, they are in the drain. Special Constable Officers came this morning, it seems that they don’t have P.R.; they came here and they started to rough up these people; these are people.”
Lawrence Mejia, Vendor
“They come yesterday—I don’t know their name, but they’re from the council—and they come and they come right to me “get up now and move and pack up your things or else we’re going to hib them in the jeep. I asked them sir, please give me a break so I can find somewhere to be, locate an area. “I don’t give a damn”. Ih di pick up my things and put them in the chief. My wife was right there, my wife was with me and then I have to—before I si dehn serous and they want to take my things I have to fight and take my things back out from the jeep. Finally they leave the stuff.”
According to Martha Pineda, her pregnant daughter, Adelita Marin, had to be hospitalized after one of the special constables pushed her down.
Martha Pineda, Vendor
“Di City Council lady push she right deh because di lady di tell my daughter to hurry pack she things. She di hurry but she pregnant and when she is passing with di bucket, she just do like dat pan my daughter and my daughter fall down right deh. She get hurt pan she foot and dis side. But I don’t know how much dis [her belly] hurt because dehn done ker ah dah hospital fi check she.”
While Pineda contemplates pressing charges against the special constable, she says another vendor was arrested after the confrontation.
“Robertina, she sell right yah. Dehn ker ah to di police station.”
“Why did they take her?”
“Because the City Council lady said that Robertina scratch di lady. But she noh do it, she do it fi she own self right yah wit dis wire. She push Robertina and Robertina haul fi she hand and she get scratch wid di wire. Dah no di lady do it. but because she vex, she seh di lady cut ah. But di lady noh have nothing. She noh have no knife fi cut ih hand. Dah she do it along wid di wire.”
The well known Philip ‘Faada’ Henry witnessed the incident and says it was an injustice to the vendors.
Philip ‘Faada’ Henry
“These people were not doing wrong, these people were there making a living. Were they robbing? Were they shooting? No; that’s the reason why violence starts in this country. So Mayor of Belize city, you need to get your group together. You have a lot of bad eggs there especially in the Special Constable. That Hispanic girl from the Special Constables should be arrested for assaulting two of the ladies, especially the pregnant female.”
“I think that is not the proper way to come to tell something to the people. They should come in a proper way and talk. We di sell because we need, we have children to maintain. We ladies are alone, mother and father to fi we child and we have to work hard. We lef four o’clock right deh fi come right yah fi mek fi we children have bread on di table every day. Dats why we come and they shouldn’t do that.”
Pineda comes all the way from Corozal to sell her goods three times per week, but for Lawrence Mejia it’s a daily struggle and he says just doesn’t know what to do.
“They gave us a hard time to sell now we don’t know where to sell and we have to feed our families. I have big family, I have to work here. I am a Belizean, I’m not an alien. I have to find to sell; I have to do something to sell. I try comply: I go in there, they put me out; I go out there, they move me. So I am confused with these councilors. They have to come together, have a meeting with us and give us somewhere to sell. They want to put us in the market, the market is completely jammed.”
Delahnie Bain for News Five.