Two female vendors who can be seen regularly on Queen Street selling newspapers and used school books, were today demanded to pack up their items and desist from vending in that area just before midday today. Love News got on the scene just after the Special Constables of the Belize City Council had left with a promise to return. We spoke with the two women, who are being removed from the steps of what was once known as the Vogue Building in Belize City.
“Today, I am home asleep and she is helping me out here when she called me to tell me that “some people are out here talking about charging me if I don’t move off the side walk.” When I started, I started over on the other side, the people seem as if though they don’t like black people, the people from Cat Walk, they didn’t stop until I moved from there. I came this side. How did I get here? I asked the man who is in charge if he would mind if we sold books out here, he didn’t have a problem with that. I’m not in anybody’s way. I make sure that when people come to buy they stand on the side so that they are not in anyone’s way. Now all the sudden they want to charge me and move me, the people from City Council, the Special Constable. Then the female because she is a supervisor or something like that she had attitude with my daughter telling her that her patience was running thin. My daughter is helping me, this is the help that I have.”
“Did they come with any kind of letter or any kind of documentation?”
“No ma’am none just attitude. The first set of people that came were a Spanish looking guy and a black woman. I told them straight up, first they used to charge me $25 to be up here. When I asked them how they could charge me when I am on private property they said “Well once you’re selling to the public you have to pay.” I told them I am selling my books to help people.”
“I have been selling papers for over forty years, we used to be near Brodies we came over here near the post office and from the post office we came over here. We asked the Father for his permission and he said it is okay but we would have to ask the owner who rents the place. So from then we have been selling out here. I’m not making a lot of money from papers, I only make about $40 from one hundred papers and it takes me a long time to sell all the papers. I have my children and my grandchildren, I don’t have a man so what do they expect me to do? Steal? That is the only thing I can say.”
“Did you all get any notice prior to them coming today to move you from here?”
“No ma’am. They just came here to say that I can’t stay here. I asked them move for what? I told them that this is only paper I come out here on Friday to sell, as soon as I am done I go home. I am not out here every day selling newspapers.”
The struggle is real with these two hard working women as they shared with us how venturing independently into their business is what has helped them to maintain their children and avoid going to the politicians for assistance.
“What happened is I am out here for a couple of years selling. The reason why I came out here to sell books is because a lot of people can’t afford the books at the shops so when they come to buy books from me I give them at a low rate and I find that when I do that I am helping people. Now I’m not doing anybody anything I am making an honest living like everybody else, I have kids to support, I am a single parent so I have to do three or four jobs to support them. My daughter just graduated because this is what put her through school. I have one in first form, this one is in second, I don’t have anybody who is giving me anything, I don’t go to the minister to ask them for anything because when you go there they turn you around and push you around. I decided to stand on my feet.”
“I come out only on Friday. I come out on Tuesdays and Thursdays but I don’t stay here because I only get 50 papers and when I’m done with my papers I go home. I don’t put my paper down I walk around because that is my living this is what I eat off, that is what I pay my loan with and that is how I pay my bills with.”
One of the outspoken persons out there whilst the incident was unfolding was Kaila Morales. Morales who incidentally had won an award for Entrepreneur of the Year, spoke to Love News on the situation at hand.
“First and foremost, I am a single mother, I am the one who won Entrepreneur of the Year Award, so most naturally I would be concerned about people hustling like myself trying to make business. Belize as it is does not have entrepreneurs which is direly needed because the culture in Belize is that you go to school and you get a job and we have to move away from that mindset because there are just not enough jobs out there to be had. So it’s not time for the government to be crippling, the few entrepreneurs that they have and I also study paralegal; she is on private property and not on the government’s space so, I don’t know; it is very saddening to me because I, as a single mother, like I said I know the reality of having to hustle every day to satisfy the basic needs so it is obvious and she is doing an honest job so I hope that the mayor reconsiders his position to moving them.”
As was stated earlier by one of the vendors, she does not go to the politicians for help but rather, she tries to make it on her own …. Of course, the matter of politics was bound to step in as Alfred sent a message to Mayor Darrell Bradley, who is currently running in the Caribbean Shores in the upcoming general elections.
“Darrell Bradley, the thing is, all of my people are from Kelly Street and he wants support from Kelly Street, Hunter’s Lane; those are my people that are there and yet he will try to take bread out of my mouth, the people that are trying in life. Because if you go up there at their place they have nothing to give you. You know how many times I have gone their and asked him for help… and up to now, I get nothing. I can’t just live on them, I have to do something for myself, I have kids, I am a single parent.”
The women are adamant on not moving from the area, saying that they have been doing this for years. Montejo, who sells newspaper, however, did mention that she had gone to the Belize City Council with an aim at settling the issue but she was to go back to the office later.
“Well right now I don’t have anywhere else to go because they are threatening to take me to court and things like that and I don’t do that. They are harassing us here, even the lady who sells newspapers they are moving. It is unfair and she is talking about coming back to charge us if we are still out here.”
“I am not moving. I went to the City Council and I went to somebody and they say that I have to go back and talk to them.”
“So, is that what you intend to do?”
“This is my living, so if I have to go back and see who I have to see because this is only once a week, once a week this is what I live off and it’s not only today that I am selling papers I have been selling papers for over 45 years, my mom sold papers, my dad sold papers they died and I took over what they were doing. I am not obstructing anyone from passing and moreover this is not the sidewalk; this concerns that people that are renting the building. If they tell me that I can’t sell paper than I understand and we have to move but if they give us permission to stay then I will stay and we asked for permission from years ago. My mom used to sell papers here many years, my dad passed away and my mom took over, my mom died now I took over.”
According to the women, the Special Constables, who reportedly were not professional in their demeanor, told them that they would return.