Protesting Amerindian vendors get notice to move from hostel

-PS denies victimisation

Several Amerindian vendors, who ply their trade outside of the Amerindian Residence on Princes Street, say they are being targeted for removal because of their participation in a protest on Wednesday outside of Parliament Building.

A vendor told Stabroek News yesterday that one of them was approached by an official of the residence over her participation in the demonstration.

The vendors, who were served with notices yesterday afternoon to desist from any vending activity outside of the compound from August 12, say that it is just a tactic to intimidate them. “Is their own people they doing this to. Many of us are single parents. We don’t trouble anybody. They were just looking for a reason to serve us with a letter and this whole thing with the protest was the ideal thing. The (official) stopped and told me that the permanent secretary called her and said that they see me protesting and if I am a part of the protest I cannot sell outside there. This is my constitutional right to protest. I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” one vendor told this newspaper.

But Nigel Dharamlall, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, when contacted for a comment yesterday, denied any victimization. He said the ministry wants the environs around the residence to be eco-friendly and as such they are moving all, not some, of the vendors. “This has nothing to do with victimisation; we want the place cleared up and for it to be eco-friendly”, he told Stabroek News.

Other vendors said that this is the only trade they know, and if they were to be removed they would not be able to earn. “We are life savers for many of the patients in the hostel. We keep this place clean, they just want to target us,” another vendor said.

All of the vendors told this newspaper that they were waiting to see what will happen on Monday, but that they are not prepared to move since other non-Amerindians who also vend there were not served with notices to move. “There are two other non-Amerindians who sell clothes outside of the hostel and they only served the Amerindians with notices. They are supposed to be helping their own but instead they fighting us down. We have nothing against these people, we just want them to leave us alone,” a vendor said.

On Wednesday, scores of Amerindians from the hinterland regions protested outside of the National Assembly about land issues. Several of them said that the government had failed to give them titles for their land although they have been continuously applying.

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