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Plaisance- Better Hope residents occupy land; AFC, APNU pledge solidarity

Numerous Plaisance-Better Hope residents turned out Sunday morning to claim a large area of land.

About 500 residents of Plaisance-Better Hope early Sunday morning began occupying a section of sugarcane lands that they said private developers have begun preparing during the nights.

There were conflicting reports in some quarters about whether it was the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) that was reconfiguring the cane- fields in that area for the use of mechanized harvesters and loaders. Guysuco in the past had flooded that area and called in police to evict persons and destroy their structures. But this time around, a number of persons were adamant that they would not be removed from the swathe of land that has been already cleared.

Activists from A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) were on the ground among the residents and expressed solidarity with each other in their calls for the relevant government ministries to meet with residents and work out a solution.

“We are saying to the PPP-Civic that this serious. We are taking this serious. These lands belong to our people and our people will take charge of it. It starts with the people and if nobody else wants to do it, Plaisance will do it,” Austin told reporters.

“A piece of land in this country is hard enough to get and if you get the sense and feeling that you are going to be thrown out of your own community, well where would you be accepted and where would you go,” said  AFC Member of Parliament, Trevor Williams. He told Austin that an AFC team would soon visit the area and meet with residents to address government’s “bullyism.”

Williams also appealed to the President and ministers to meet with residents because such a tension “would not go down well for any sort of national healing or reconciliation” because Guyana has had enough troubles.

But APNU’s Sean Austin said surveyors in the area would shortly begin measuring the land and allocating house lots and identifying a playground and cemetery in accordance with established building codes. He said residents would build their homes through self-help “brick by brick.”

plaisance youthAustin protested that the residents have been already deprived of their ancestral lands by the construction of a business complex on the Sparendaam-Goedverwagting cemetery and an upscale housing scheme (Pradoville Two) at North Sparendaam.

Speaking passionately, several residents insisted that they would not allow anyone, including Guysuco, to use the land. “We ain’t want cane here. We want land fuh live,” said a man. A woman added:  “Me ain’t want hear anything about Guysuco. Guysuco ain’t gat nut’n deh. Is we own.”

“The land was resting for a long time but is just because they know that this time the government will be going, they decided to fight up now so that Black people wouldn’t get any benefit from anything,” said a man.  Another man reasoned that the government’s housing programme was aimed at reconfiguring the population on Region Four by allocating house lots in Parfaite Harmonie, Region Three, West Bank Demerara.

Holding an almost one year old boy and a cutlass in his hands, a man urged government to think about the nation’s future- the children. “This is for these youths here. A lot of them don’t have anywhere to lie down and sleep comfortable while the bigger heads living large, large and giving away land to people who they feel like,” he said.