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Not every squatter is lazy

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dear Editor,

First and foremost, I don't care if folks will argue that I'm supporting criminality by supporting the so-called squatting and the people of west Westmoreland.

Let's face it, Jamaica was captured by the Europeans. They brought us slaves here to build it and gave us nothing. Many of our lands here in Jamaica are still owned by the Crown.

Many folks don't want to live free, it's just that the system of government, with all its bureaucracy, is not in favour of the poor or the working class. Many of us work for many years and will never be qualified to attain a loan from National Housing Trust (NHT) to become a homeowner.

Now that some bureaucracy has been lifted, some of us in the working class are only qualified for $2.5 million. Only few areas in Jamaica have land, let alone houses in that range.

When I last visited the NHT branch in St Ann they advised me that they did not have any upcoming projects. A representative of the NHT recommended that, in my situation, I should find a real estate agency, but the majority of these agencies don't sell lands for under $3 million. The system is against the common man owning land.

I'm no hypocrite. I supported Karl Samuda when he stepped in to assist residents off Red Hills Road recently. I also supported Fayval Williams of St Andrew Eastern when she wanted to relocate the squatters near Papine. Her argument was that she wanted to relocate the folks to better living conditions. Now this Westmoreland situation is off to the court and I hear of orders being given to destroy people's homes, some of which have been there for over 30 years.

The propaganda is that only lazy people squat. Not everyone who lives on land not belonging to them is lazy; often they have been frustrated by the system.

Two years ago a scam took place, wherein people from all over Jamaica paid $50,000 into a scheme which promised them land in St Mary. The question we should ask ourselves is why were so many people willing to believe they could get land so cheaply?

If both the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party do not deal with land reform and ownership, then squatting will be here forever.

How can our politicians feel good knowing that over 700,000 householders are squatters?

It is time for some squatter settlements to be formalised and others to be relocated.

I can't help but reference the chorus of Chronixx's Capture Land:

“Carry we go home, carry we go home

And bring we gone a east, 'cause man a Rastaman

And Rasta nuh live pon no capture land.

 

Teddylee Gray

Ocho Rios, St Ann

teddylee.gray@gmail.com