SPTC clarifies situation over bulldozed home in San Mateo
Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
A resident of San Mateo, Rosa Paguada, has reported that her two houses were demolished by the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) on Friday, January 20th. Paguada claims she has been living at her house for the past 14 years, and that while she was at work, the SPTC tractors began bulldozing both of her houses.
However, according to neighbors in area, both houses were empty and Paguada had received many warnings to remove the houses from the said area. Reports are that she refused to move out. It was said that prior to the bulldozing, she allegedly moved out of the house and took all her belongings.
The San Pedro Sun spoke to Mayor Daniel Guerrero, who shed some more light on the situation. According to Guerrero, the homeowner has been given ultimatums to move the structures or dismantle them. “First of all, it’s squatting. I’ve been talking to her, along with Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr. and Councilor Severro Guerrero. Since my first term in 2012, I have been discussing the removal of these structures because it was in the middle of the street. At that time, she mentioned to her neighbors that when [we] go, she will be with a machete there. After exchanging talks and agreements, we sent the bulldozer to take down the structures to clear the road,” said Mayor Guerrero.
According to the Mayor, Paguada did not have a lease or property title for the lot, and she was not living at the said area. Paguada claimed she was living in the smaller house, but according to her neighbors and the San Pedro Police Department, it was determined that she was not living on the premises. “The SPTC has support from the San Pedro Police Department that the two structures were vacant. Neighbors even stated that Paguada lives by a boat yard. In the past, police officers have discovered illegal firearms and drugs within one of the houses. There is plenty of evidence and support for the SPTC, and this just looks like a matter of someone trying to get compensated,” said Mayor Guerrero.
He stated that the SPTC is currently clearing out the roads in the San Mateo area because two utility companies: Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), along with Belize Water Services (BWS)/ Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), are looking to install electricity and water in San Mateo. “The electrification for San Mateo has been paid for quite some time. Now, these utility companies are ready to install their equipment, posts, wires, and light up the streets. WASA wants to open the streets to install pipe water. WASA is supposed to start anytime, but I have not given the clearance yet. The point is that her two houses were in the way of these utility companies to provide their services,” he said. While Mayor Guerrero sympathizes with Paguada, he stated he cannot sacrifice development that would improve the livelihoods of the rest of San Mateo residents.
When Paguada visited the Mayor to discuss the situation, she mentioned that there was a confusion within the agreement. However, she admitted that she was in recent communication with the SPTC, who was working on relocating her to another area. Guerrero elaborated: “Although there was not a written notice, I was informed by my Deputy Mayor Greif [that he] and Paguada had made a verbal agreement. Because of that, he gave the SPTC the go-ahead to proceed with removing the two houses. If I would have served her a notice, and she did not comply, then the matter would have went to court and the Gang-Suppression Unit would have been involved. However, I did not want to go through that process because we offered to accommodate her in the first place. We gave her enough time to move, and she ignored the cautions of the SPTC” said Mayor Guerrero.
According to the SPTC worker, who demolished the buildings, Paguada was aggressive, hitting the bulldozer with a stick to cease the demolition. Paguada reportedly has apologized for her actions, and has settled to an agreement between the Mayor and the Minister.
Mayor Guerrero stated that the SPTC will assist her accordingly, and Minister Heredia will be granting her a property. Paguada told The San Pedro Sun that she accepted the Mayor’s offer, and will wait for Minister Heredia to return to finalize the matter.
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