TALK BACK: Heated debate over squatters
Should they move or should they stay?
That has been the question debated robustly by online readers since the WEEKEND NATION broke the story of the Rastafarian family of 23 living in five shanty dwellings on 8.38 acres of undeveloped land next to upscale Fort George Heights.
The family has refused the million-dollar offer by land owner Sagicor Life to move even though they have no water or electricity.
Readers shared their strong views on this issue.
Paula Harris: “Squatting is wrong. It is otherwise called stealing. To correct this problem they should be trying to find out how they can make things right instead of trying to get support in this situation when they started so wrong. When you start wrong, chances are you will end wrong. It’s amazing that Sagicor even offered them money to leave and they still wouldn’t leave. . . .”
David Hutchinson: “It amazes me how these situations develop and people side with the lawbreakers. Money was paid for the land. Don’t the owners have rights or do your rights diminish because you have money? The people who defend this madness would never tolerate it if it were their land. Sadly, we are now a country where breaking the law is celebrated.”
Sandrea Butcher: “Sagicor should not offer them any more money . . . . The laws want changing. This encourages people not to buy or rent land from landowners. The same way that Maxine McClean et al could look to repeal the legislation for the Social Investment Fund, they could repeal others (like the Limitation and Prescription Act) that disadvantage landowners. If you want land, go and buy it. Squatters have ‘rights’ but are not obligated to pay land tax. Ridiculous.”
Bajan Gal: “What am I really seeing, though? People struggle every day to get their own piece of land but these can refuse free millions and free land just because they decided to squat on someone’s land years ago? Why are they refusing? Because they like living in that nice secluded spot with no proper water or toilet facilities? Or perhaps to see how much more they can squeeze from Sagicor? I wonder. Praise God I was able to get my little piece of the rock through honest means and the sweat of my brow. Nonsense!”
Justin Holder: “The people who have lived on otherwise unused land for 30 years have infinitely more right to continue to use it than some corporation seeking to exploit it. This is a perfect example of the laws and capitalist conventions undercutting common human decency. . . . This is people who live somewhere defending themselves against a system that can only see dollar signs and they are utterly courageous.”
Marva Lashley-Todd: “They were there for so long that they can’t move them now. I believe they have some rights, sad to say.”
• Carol Martindale is THE NATION’s Online Editor.