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Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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Belama Phase 4 squatters under fire

Alex Chan says he owns the land, but allegedly has not provided any proof

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 13, 2019– Last Friday, a number of residents from the Belama Phase 4 area of the city converged in front of Fen Lan Company on the Philip Goldson Highway in a protest for which they did not get a permit from Belize Police Department.

Police moved in and as quickly as it had started, it abruptly ended. The message, however, was sent: these residents are prepared to stand up and fight.

Life for the 22 families, 18 of which are Belizeans, took a drastic turn in January when they were served with eviction notice to vacate the lands on which they have been living, some for a long as 10 years.

The person who issued the eviction notice has so far not been able, or has been unwilling to present documentary evidence of ownership of the 1.6 acres of land that is the bone of contention in the stand-off with residents who have been living on the land.

The matter took on a political twist, as the governing United Democratic Party (UDP) standard bearer, Orson Elrington, for the Freetown constituency in which the disputed land lies, had leveled the accusation that the People’s United Party area representative, Hon. Francis Fonseca, is playing politics with the issue.

Amandala tried to get an update from Elrington on the matter by sending him a message on Facebook Messenger. Elrington replied, saying that he was out of the country, and left his cell number, but did not respond when he was asked when would be a good time to call him.

The purported owner of the land, Alex Chan, the owners of Fen Lan Company, had indicated that he owns the land, but reportedly, has not provided any proof of that.

Chan, after his initial notice to the residents to vacate the swampy piece of land which reportedly is 1.6 acres, decided to erect a barbed wire fence around the property. The fence has been an inconvenience to many of the residents, whose homes were encircled by it, and has forced them to find ways to navigate through it.

This standoff raises several questions, the first being, is how did Chan come to own the 1.6 acres on which the residents of Belama Phase 4 have been living? Who owned the land before or was it government-owned. If it was, how did Chan come by it?

The answers to these basic questions lie in the Ministry of Natural Resources in Belmopan, and that is the first place to begin unraveling the puzzling ownership of Chan—it must be in the public records.

When we contacted the Freetown area representative, Hon. Francis Fonseca, an attorney himself, he had this to say: “In my view legal ownership of the parcel of land remains unclear. The Chan’s claim to have power of attorney giving them legal authority over the land, but we have not seen that document and it is unclear how they obtained it, because the Chinese individual who is said to own the land has not been seen by anyone for some time, and it’s unclear where he is.”

Fonseca added, “We tried to negotiate a settlement, but at the very last moment, the Chans, in my opinion, buckled under UDP pressure to not work with me. This land should be acquired by the government so that residential lots can be made available to the area residents. This has always been our plan. The PUP built Belama Phases 1 to 3 into model residential communities and the plan is the same for phase 4. We will pursue all legal options on behalf of the residents. While the UDP standard bearer defends the business interest, I will stand with the people.”

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