This morning, there was an illegal protest in front of Fen Lan, which is about 4 miles up the Philip Goldson Highway. The illegal protest did not last long before police came to break it up. Love News Reporter, Courtney Menzies, was in the midst of things before the police arrived.
Courtney Menzez – Reporter: “A land issue that has been brewing for months resulted in an illegal and impromptu protest in front of Fen Lan on the Philip Goldson this morning. People over money is what the protest had to say since Fen Lan’s owner Alex Chan is trying to force out twenty residents out of a swampy area in Belama phase 4 on a claim that he owns thirty of the lots. Love News was out there this morning and we heard from the Freetown area Rep Francis Fonseca who is also legally representing the squatters.”
Honorable Francis Fonseca: “There are twenty-two families affected by this issue. Of those twenty-two families eighteen of those families are Belizean residence or citizens and all of them, every single family has Belizean children. These people some of them have been living there for more than ten years, some have been living there for seven, eight years. All of a sudden at the end of last year this individual from this company came with this, that is why we are out here today, Mr. Chan owns Fen Lan. All of a sudden he comes along claiming to own this area of land that they are living on showing no proof of ownership. Up to now, we have not gotten any proof of his legal ownership of the property. What he is saying to us now through his lawyer is that he has the power of attorney for the person who owns that land. We have never seen any title to the land, we have never seen, although I have asked for them to produce the power of attorney, we have never seen any power of attorney.
Courtney Menzez – Reporter: “The protestors have had to deal with the harassment for some time now but the straw that broke the camel’s back was the barbed fence that was placed around many of their homes.”
Vivian Estrada – Squatter: “The Chinese man sent workers because he does not come personally right but you see what we have to do so we could cross. There have a young lady there that just had a baby, she has to cross that as well. The person that lives there they have to jump two barbed wire fences because of the same thing and it is not fair. We live poor so I don’t know why he fights for it, he has land, why want more? He owns it but does not have proof so where is the proof and it is not like he owns it because someone else owns it, someone that we do not even know who it is and he doesn’t prove it.”
Courtney Menzez – Reporter: “The barbed wire fence came after the squatters were presented with an eviction notice and told that they had a month to dismantle their homes. Still, they have no clue who actually owns the land. Honorable Fonseca says he doesn’t know if Alex Chan is even alive.”
Honorable Francis Fonseca: “I have inquired among the Chinese community, people don’t even know if this person is alive. They say he left Belize many years ago, they don’t know where he is, no one has had contact with him. He has effectively abandoned the property and these people in my view, this is my view, they swooped in, took advantage of that opportunity because they felt the land was abandoned and now are claiming all sorts of things. Ultimately the matter will have to be resolved in court where they will have to provide proof and provide this so call power of attorney and we have to see what that power of attorney does. Just because you have a power of attorney doesn’t mean anything, what is important is what is contained in that power of attorney.”
Courtney Menzez – Reporter: “Honorable Fonseca made it known that he will stand by the people that he represents.”
Honorable Francis Fonseca: “We are going to fight with them until the very end and as I said our plan has always been and Councillor Vaughan who is the Chairman of the Freetown Division can tell you we have had a long-standing plan for Belama Phase 4. It is our Government of the People’s United Party that built Belama. We built and created Belama Phase 1, Belama Phase 2, Belama Phase 3. These are among the best residential communities in the country today, certainly in Belize City and we intend to do the same thing with Belama Phase 4 so that was the plan. There is a legal process that must be followed if you are going to remove people from your property, there is a legal process. It is not about harassing people, it is not about sending in people to break down their homes, it is not about putting up chain link or barbed wire fences around their houses, there is a legal process and enough is enough.
Reporting for Love News I am Courtney Menzez.
Just before news time, OJ Elrington, the UDP standard bearer for the Freetown area, sent us a picture of the land register report, which states the power of attorney is granted to Chen-Wei Chang, for the lots in question. Elrington also mentioned that the property has been in private hands since 1991, during the PUP administration.////////////