RADHICA DE SILVA
Faced with impending demolition of their homes, residents of Palo Seco joined fishermen from Erin, Cedros and Carli Bay in a placard protest at Palo Seco this morning.
Led by the Palo Seco Justice Committee, the residents set up protest tents at Palo Seco Junction from 6 am and called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to stop the planned destruction of their homes.
President of the Committee Victor Roberts said during the Christmas holidays five houses in the area were demolished and 18 residents had been served with eviction notices by Petrotrin before the company was shut down last year. Roberts said residents of Warden Road, Sudama Village, Los Bajos, Los Iros and Erin are facing homelessness at a time when thousands of people are facing the threat of job loss. He said the residents shared their plight on social media asking for an attorney and Opposition Senator Gerard Ramdeen responded, vowing to take the government to court if anyone was evicted.
"This is political genocide in our country and we will resist any attempt to evict our residents, " Roberts said.
He said residents of La Victoria Trace and Beach Camp are also fearful of eviction.
"On the 17th of December, the Prime Minister said in the House of Representatives what the plans were for Petrotrin lands. They have closed the company without consultation and now they are breaking houses. No consultation! Now they take away regular gas from the fishermen. How they expect people to survive? " he asked.
Roberts said letters have been sent to President Paula Mae Weekes about the residents' plight.
David Baptiste, who lives on Penal Quinam Road said he feels hurt because the home which he grew up in is under threat.
He said: "In 1972 my grandparents got a piece of land from Petrotrin at two and a half mile. Now after 46 years they called me a squatter?"
President of the Claxton Bay Fishing Association Bhadase Sooknanan said the fishermen will join with the squatters to block the demolitions.
Ramdeen said he will offer legal representation to stop further demolitions.
"I want to make a promise that every single house and person threatened with demolition will have proper representation from me," he said.
As the crowds applauded, Ramdeen declared "We will fight you in court!"
The crowd applauded and began chanting: "Not another house must go!"