Land disputes have been reported numerous times on the news and tonight there is one more to add to the list. The allegation is that at least seven families in San Pablo Village, Toledo District are reportedly being evicted from land that they have been on for over ten years. The media received footage of a rather tense confrontation that is alleged to have happened last Wednesday, when crops owned by one family were destroyed by fire. Sylvia Ulloa told our newsroom that her family has been living on the land for at least nineteen years. Ulloa says that about one month ago, a well-known businessman, approached them saying he owns the land and requested that they leave. Ulloa says they have not moved because they have nowhere else to go. She says that last Wednesday the same businessman returned with a bulldozer to clear the land and had started a fire which spread to her family’s crops, including corn and plantain trees. Ulloa gave us a copy of the video recorded on the day the incident occurred as well as interview on what transpired.
Sylvia Ulloa: “We had plantains and corn and part of these were burned as we hauled water to put off the fire. We called him and he said he would come to talk and he sent a machine through the corn and plantain fields. He said he did it to help put out the fire. My husband said to take a video and I took the video. We lost about twenty sacks of corn and plantains, it would be about thirty plantain trees. When the fire was on, it came close to one of the family houses. It was close and we had to throw water on it or it would have burned down because, since we are poor, we make our homes out of coconut palm. Before then, about a month ago, before the burning happened he had come with a police to tell us to leave the land.”
Reporter: “And do you have documents for the land or not?”
Sylvia Ulloa: “We managed to stay here because the court said we could stay. And since the court said we could work the land we went to the land’s department and a man there gave us a list of names of surveyors and we had it surveyed. He came to survey it. It has been over a month now I think and when we called he hadn’t completed it. In total, those who live here are about seven houses and if we had somewhere to go, I would say that we move but we don’t have anywhere to go.”
Love News reached out to the company that is claiming the land, A&E Trading. The company responded with a short statement that reads, quote, (VO STARTS) “A&E Trading Ltd purchased a banana farm last April comprised of two parcels of land. In rehabilitating and developing the farm, we encountered a family of squatters. Since then we have been trying to work amicably with them to resolve the situation in line with all the conditions which have to be met in the industry, but to no avail. Certain groundless, false and defamatory allegations have now been made to your media house by them against the owners of the farm which cause us great concern since we have made every reasonable effort to correct the situation and are still desirous of doing so for the benefit of all concerned,” End of quote. According to Ulloa, it was about two years ago when another company had gone to them claiming ownership as well. The matter, according to Ulloa, went to court and they were allowed to remain on the land and develop it. We will monitor the developments of this story.