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Belize Land Crisis: Even the Swamp is Unavailable to the Poor

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Though both elected area representative PUP’s Francis Fonseca and UDP standard bearer Orson Elrington both claim to represent the people, the residents of the disputed 1.6 acres have told Love News that Fonseca is their attorney. While the parties are invested in Freetown, the people on the ground continue to live in homes that they don’t know if they will still be there when they return home. Love News spoke to a tour guide who makes a living at the tourism village who lives at the absolutely last house at the end of the disputed mangrove in Belama Phase 4.

Jose Sanchez: “Little Stephanie innocently sweeps the ground in front of her home after the chaos. Last night was her first night sleeping in her semi destroyed home. Denisha Lopez, a tour guide, hurried home when she heard buildings were being destroyed. For the past three years she has carved out a home at the far end of the mangrove with her husband and son Dustin.”

Denisha Lopez: “Actually I was terrified this evening because I was at my job and I heard you know what they are breaking down the houses and  I was like what my house might be one of those houses that they are breaking down so I hurry race come home like hurry and it is really rough to know that they give you an eviction notice that will be on the 4th of February and then they came and destroyed people’s houses before the 4th so it is hard.”

Voice 1: “I mean you are living on a land that is not yours and then we also understand that hey look if we just tell you to move out that is maybe to unfair for them so what I think the company would do is actually rent it for them like okay you want to use it fine but we will charge you a fee and then you get to use it. “

Jose Sanchez: “ The residents say they were given an unsigned document without any JP or Attorney seal to sign. The Belama Squatters were called to a meeting by Attorney Orson Elrington last Sunday. He made it clear that it was private land and that Alex Chang would issue leases to them though that is a function that can only be carried out by the Lands Department. “

Orson Elrington UDP Standard Bearer: “I met with Mr. Chang and he is the owner of the entire property. This is not Government property, it is private property and so Mr. Chang has all rights to do whatever he chooses with his property. Mr. Chang has been kind enough to offer a solution to this situation which we hope will be beneficial to everyone involved. He basically will offer you the opportunity to be legally residing on the property. You will have a legal lease.”

Denisha Lopez: “In terms of OJ, I am very disappointed in OJ honestly because we didn’t even know he was coming. He came back here and we were surprised to see that he was here and then he twisted the entire story and said that we actually agreed to sign a contract. He said that he was going to bring a contract so that we could see what was in that contract so that we can either agree upon it or not and he actually twisted the story and said that we were begging him because if we don’t beg him then we would have ended up homeless on the street. We didn’t beg OJ and I can tell OJ that to his face. I did not beg OJ to do nothing for us back here and it is very sad because this happened over three weeks ago from when the Chinese man first came and gave the eviction notice. He did not show his face here until just Sunday so it is very sad to see that. I believe that if you want to represent someone you are supposed to represent the people of Belize. You are not just supposed to represent a person because a person has a whole lot of money you defend them. What about all the people? People don’t squat because they don’t have or they squat because they want, we squat because of needs or because of your children that you are trying to secure something for you understand? So in terms of the area representative for this area, if he is trying to do something for the people and is trying to defend the people and help the people I have nothing against that. All I want is someone that will defend the people not be against the people.

Jose Sanchez: “The situation has brought out politicians from opposing sides today to meet with the residents of the Belama Phase 4.

Denisha Lopez: “At this point we are just trying to stand together united as one people and that is the only thing we can do. In reality if you look at people in general it doesn’t matter if you come from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua it doesn’t matter which part you come but once people reach to Belize it is like they don’t stand up and fight any more. You go to any part of the world people stand up and fight against politicians. Only we in Belize doesn’t stand up and fight so yes I am willing to go out there and defend my home because if I didn’t have a need or a reason to be here I would not have been here. I am a hard working person, I go to work as long as I have work I go to work. Everyone pretty much knows me in Belize. Most people know me I am a licensed tour guide and I have never been in any trouble but in this case this is my home, this is my children’s home, we put in a lot. It might not be a lot in terms of money all the time but in terms of personal labour we put in a lot so it is really hard to see OJ to be a person for this area and he is not defending the people of Belize. United we stand, divided we fall.

Jose Sanchez for Love News.”

 

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