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Standoff over squatting on Guysuco lands; Police fire teargas and pellets

September 30 ,2020

Source

The Police were called in by the sugar company, Guysuco, which has been trying to get the squatters off of the lands, even threatening to begin flooding the lands.

Teargas and pellets were fired at squatters in the Success area this afternoon as they held their ground in a stand-off with the Police as a bridge linking the main road to the squatters’ settlement was destroyed.

The Police were called in by the sugar company, Guysuco, which has been trying to get the squatters off of the lands, even threatening to begin flooding the lands.

Standoff over squatting on Guysuco lands; Police fire teargas and pellets



The lands being occupied by the squatters belong to Guysuco and the government’s holding company NICIL.

In a statement today, Guysuco said it is currently in the process of reviving its operations along the East Demerara and the squatting on its lands is hindering the land preparation process.

The company said the lands at Vryheid’s Lust, Success and Chateau Margot on the East Coast of Demerara, are the property of its Enmore estate. It wants persons to desist immediately from occupying the lands.

But some of the squatters claim that they have been occupying the lands for over five years, while others recently started their occupation.

Back in 2015, just after the APNU+AFC government took office, there was a rush to grab lands in the areas after persons were told by PPP activists that the land would have been distributed to persons from the communities.

The last government at the time of its ouster was making moves to have NICIL purchase some of the Guysuco lands to develop into housing areas. The project never materialised.

Now with the new government making moves to reopen some of the closed estates and a new management in place at Guysuco, many of the plans of the last government have been shelved and the deserted Guysuco lands may form part of sugar production again.

Courts now making squatters really prove case for prescriptive rights

Dear Editor,

One of the very important social trends which the media as a whole has failed to focus on is the issue of squatting.

Dr. Luncheon told a recent press conference that the high days of squatting have come to an end and mentioned the social, legal and environmental problems which emanate from squatting.

The Minister of Housing, Mr. Irfaan Ali, on more than one occasion has pointed out that squatting leads to the destruction of the drainage system and floods, filthy rubbish dumps and latrines spreading disease, the theft from Public Utilities causing Government to have to subsidize these utilities with billions of dollars and the growth of drug selling and using. Mr. Ali has pointed out that Government has distributed and has continued to distribute tens of thousands of house lots countrywide and no one has an excuse to squat. Others have pointed out that squatting is the unlawful occupation of government’s or private persons’ property and breeds a culture of theft in the national psyche resulting in the weakening of Law and Order in Guyana.

But more important is the response of the Courts of Law to squatting. Formerly, squatters would come to the Courts claiming prescriptive titles to someone else’s property by merely asserting that they were in possession for 12 years and that they planted trees from the time they squatted and paid water and electricity bills, etc. Since owners were often unaware of these claims or were abroad and as such could make no court appearance, prescription was granted.

Now, the Courts make it quite clear from the outset that the Transport Holder (Owner), whether Government or private person, does not have to prove ownership. It is the squatter who must prove his case that he occupied the land undisturbed for 12 or more years and if he is found lying or to be trying to deceive the Court in any way, or if his evidence is equivocal or not absolutely conclusive, the principle that litigants must come to the Courts with clean hands is rigorously applied. In other words, if the squatter gave five points to prove his case and if one of those points is deceitful, then his case has no merit and collapses.

The courts are very likely responding to changing social conditions such as the vast emigration of citizens, the fact that younger people emigrate leaving older and less active folk to look after family property, and the culture of theft and lawlessness and drug dealing which flourish among squatters. The future academics from the Guyana and Caribbean Law Schools in writing and researching on the history of Law and Administration of the Law will certainly write a chapter on the remarkable response of the Courts to the bane of squatting and the positive way they are beginning to curb a social ill and restore Guyanese Society.

Yours faithfully,
Rebecca Connelly

Squatting on another person's property has existed in Guyana for ages.

If an individual squats on land for 12 or more years without any issues from the proprietor, there is a process where they could possibly obtain ownership of the said land.

The specific situation for this article - Standoff over squatting on Guysuco lands; Police fire teargas and pellets - would indicate that the process of ownership through prescriptive rights does not apply.

Success squatters teargassed and shot with pellets by police

October 1 ,2020

Source

This boy was struck by pellets

This boy was struck by pellets

Police yesterday fired pellets and tear gas in a bid to remove squatters in the vicinity of  Success, East Coast Demerara who have overrun lands belonging to the sugar corporation, GuySuCo.

According to a police statement, they resorted to this action after NICIL/GuySuCo officials visited the Success Squatting Area to speak with squatters there who were said to be β€œaggressive” and β€œhostile”.

The report further said that the squatters have illegally occupied lands owned by NICIL who over the past months sought to have squatters removed peacefully.

β€œDuring this engagement persons became aggressive and hostile towards the officials and the police ranks and began throwing a bombardment of missiles at them,” the police release said.

Last evening when Stabroek News visited the area, persons were reluctant to speak with the media. Scores of angry persons were seen standing in protest on the other side of a canal after which they began hurling bottles across the canal at media representatives.



However, several persons came forward to speak about the incident that occurred.

Ziggy Daphness shared that he moved with his parents and sister to live in the area a month ago. According to the man, approximately two thousand persons have settled in the squatting area which begins at Success and runs as far back as Vryheid’s Lust. The man said that he had submitted an application for land since the year 2015 and though he was promised that he would be called by the previous Minister of Housing, Valerie Patterson-Yearwood, he never received a feedback.

He explained that during a visit by the minister to β€˜A’ Field Sophia, he had related his interest in having ownership of β€œthe bushiest piece of land” to which the Minister replied by informing him that they were house lots available in Beterver-wagting, East Coast Demerara, while taking his interview paper and promising to call him.

She never did, he said.

Daphness explained that an excavator was brought in by NICIL which broke the access bridge leading into the community. A number of vehicles could be seen lining both sides of the canal. The destruction of the bridge which was said to have been built by the squatters themselves prevented drivers from getting in or out of the village. 

And according to the man, he believes that more than ten persons were taken to the hospital as a result of the police shooting.

β€œThem police didn’t come and tell anybody to get out. Just the head of NICIL come and made a notice today. The police them come and didn’t even identify themselves. They just come, move the bridge and then start to shoot up people and use tear gas. Ms. Rosalind [a nearby resident], they got she in BV lockdown. All she do was take out she phone and start videoing and they grab she. They lock up a rasta man too. He ain’t even own a land in here. He does just come through selling he water and he juice and they [police] hold on on the man and shie he in the van,” recounted the man.

Jermaine Ross, another resident of Success squatting area, stated that it was a peaceful protest that turned ugly after police officers began using force.

The resident who had been residing in the area for approximately three months, related that families were occupying the area, as a final alternative after encountering difficulties in life.

To explain his point, he told this newspaper that another family had taken up occupancy in the area after they were thrown out from their previous home.

The frustrated residents, some of whom had applied for house lots, stated that the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils had recently given documents to support claims of ownership made by some of the residents on a section of the cane field nearby, but stated that the area they were occupying at the time was a separate section.

Ross said, within the time he has been residing there, he has fenced his lot and keeps it tidy.

He added that the area has been in existence since 2015, but due to the pressures brought on by the pandemic, factors such as pay cuts, loss of jobs, and failure to pay rent, had pushed persons to take up residence in the area.

Ross stated that the bridge that was torn down by police ranks, was built with monies pooled by the Success squatting area residents.

The frustrated man noted that his application in housing was there since the year 2015, and added that he is very persistent with voicing his concerns about receiving his land.

A young woman who asked to remain anonymous explained the ordeal faced. β€œPolice block the bridge before they break down the bridge. They were standing with big guns,” she said. She and her family moved to squat in the area some four months ago.

β€œI don’t know if they get orders from higher authority or what but all I know when we was coming out, I saw them breaking the bridge. We had a hard time getting out because they break the bridge. We had to go till around to Sophia and the residents there didn’t even want us to cross over their bridge there via our car. They take the bridge that they had and move out the woods them. We took an average of three hours trying to get out to the main road”, the woman said.

Speaking of the tear gas, she said, β€œIt catch me. I could have hardly breathe. I run back to the car and take water from the car and sprinkle it on my nose and my face. I feel like I would blackout. There were children in the midst also. If you see how their eyes and nose get. They had to rush them to the hospital.”

A video viewed by this newspaper which was captured by another squatter in the area showed police surrounded by a crowd of persons while the bridge was being taken apart. A few seconds later, shots rang out and persons scattered. Tear gas was also dispersed and children could be heard screaming among the adults while they all ran for cover.

β€œWe didn’t do these police anything and just like that they start shooting,” the woman said.

When asked why they squatted in the first place, she said that her family like many others were unable to come up with their rent and utility bills especially during the pandemic. She further stated that they have yet to hear from government officials and would like to know where they are expected to go if they are moved.

Many persons voiced that they needed their own house lots as they don’t like the idea of squatting.

The woman noted that they all planned to stay put until a government official visits. While they protested, police on the other side of the canal brandished their weapons. Canisters of tear gas hung from the front of their bullet proof vests.

At minutes to eight last night, Region Four Chairman, Daniel Seeram visited the area and spoke with squatters. A young boy was brought to the front of the crowd to Seeram and pellets were pointed out in his hands and face.

A woman, another squatter, showed this newspaper the back of her thigh where pellets could be seen still stuck inside the skin.

Several persons in speaking with the chairman shared with him, the reasons which led to them deciding to squat. Seeram assured them that he would get to the bottom of the incident and promised to return today at 10am. He further said that having watched four separate videos, he did not see the reason for the police having to resort to violence.

Squatting on another person's property has existed in Guyana for ages.

If an individual squats on land for 12 or more years without any issues from the proprietor, there is a process where they could possibly obtain ownership of the said land.

The specific situation for this article - Standoff over squatting on Guysuco lands; Police fire teargas and pellets - would indicate that the process of ownership through prescriptive rights does not apply.

This is a terrible situation. Housing for the poor needs to be addressed.

Squatting on another person's property has existed in Guyana for ages.

If an individual squats on land for 12 or more years without any issues from the proprietor, there is a process where they could possibly obtain ownership of the said land.

The specific situation for this article - Standoff over squatting on Guysuco lands; Police fire teargas and pellets - would indicate that the process of ownership through prescriptive rights does not apply.

Who ordered the police to shoot? Guyana is not a police state. Guysicko should be using the court to remove these alleged Squatters. 

PPP = Punishing Poor People

Squatters continue to occupy land despite warnings

One would-be squatter holds aloft his marker as he along with others heads across a makeshift bridge at Success, East Coast Demerara yesterday afternoon to lay claim to land belonging to GuySuCo. [Photo by Arian Browne)
One would-be squatter holds aloft his marker as he along with others heads across a makeshift bridge at Success, East Coast Demerara yesterday afternoon to lay claim to land belonging to GuySuCo. (Photo by Arian Browne)

Despite being warned, residents from various villages on the East Coast Demerara (ECD) armed with cutlasses and other weapons continued to squat on lands which they claimed were promised to them years ago and which they now hope to acquire under the new government.

When Stabroek News visited some of these areas yesterday numerous persons said they were out on the lands all day yesterday again, but the authorities seemed not to be paying them any heed. They said that if this continues they will go ahead and start to build. Some said that if no one pays them any interest they are planning to protest in front the Ministry of Housing and Water building.

Mohan Lall, a resident of Success, ECD said he heard that persons from most of the villages have been squatting and he thought of joining, since he has been living in a rented house and thinks it is time enough to acquire his own. Lall added that squatting started last week.

He said that yesterday a few security personnel from GuySuCo went and warned persons squatting on land owned by the company. He said no one paid heed to the warning.

 

Apart from the squatting, persons yesterday blocked off the road leading to the canefield in Success.

Many said that vehicles belonging to those squatting were parked along the roadway blocking off entrances of those living there legally. The blockage of the road was cleared by the police, but up to late yesterday afternoon when this newspaper visited the area, vehicles were still parked in their numbers.

At Mon Repos, land grabbers claimed the land was jointly owned by the Ministry of Housing and Water and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) and has not been in use for years.

 

One farmer, who asked not to be named, said that he visited the Commissioner of Police’s Office yesterday in relation to the matter because he totally opposes the activity. He noted that the land persons were encroaching on was used to graze cattle. He said his cows have been grazing there for years.

At Enmore, Amarnauth Sookram, a resident, said that the police had visited on Sunday and warned the persons squatting on GuySuCo’s land. He said those persons have not returned since.

Yesterday land in other areas such as Sophia, Turkeyen and Beterverwagting was bordered and marked with names placed on piece of boards stuck in the dirt but persons were not seem on the land.

 

Some land grabbers’ reasoning was that persons had been given land, but did not need it, as they had just left it abandoned while others are in need of it. Several, who said they were determined to get land, said they did not expect to get it free and were willing to pay $100,000 for a house lot.

Source:

Last edited by Django

Squatting on another person's property has existed in Guyana for ages.

If an individual squats on land for 12 or more years without any issues from the proprietor, there is a process where they could possibly obtain ownership of the said land.

The specific situation for this article - Standoff over squatting on Guysuco lands; Police fire teargas and pellets - would indicate that the process of ownership through prescriptive rights does not apply.

@Mitwah posted:

Who ordered the police to shoot? Guyana is not a police state. Guysicko should be using the court to remove these alleged Squatters. 

PPP = Punishing Poor People

PNCR = Purposefully Neglecting the Country and Residents

AFC = Always Focused on Carelessness

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