Barbudans dig in and resist gov’t push to evict them

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Barbudans living at the Barrymore Hotel engaged in a standoff with government officials who eventually backed off from their attempt to evict the occupants from the hotel on Saturday.

Despite the presence of officials from the Ministry of Public Works and police officers, these authorities were apparently in no mood to overpower the determination shown by the approximately 30 Barbudans.

The majority are women with young children who continue to defy repeated notices for them to vacate the state-owned property on Fort Road.

On Saturday, public works employees – accompanied by police – arrived with trucks, ready to cart away the residents’ possessions from the premises. But the would-be enforcers eventually stood down and not a single eviction took place.

One of the affected residents is Hildena Frank, a civil servant with two children who attend school here.

“All the trucks left because we stood our ground and we are not moving or taking any [of our stuff] out. The police and persons from Public Works saw no movement and so they just left,” she said.

Barbudans, displaced by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, have been housed at Barrymore after they were left homeless by the Category 5 super storm.

Authorities have repeatedly informed them that they needed to move out and find other accommodation as the time elapsed has been more than enough for them to cease being granted state-funded shelter.

Early last week, the authorities had resorted to changing the locks on the rooms, so that the unwanted tenants would need security to open the rooms to access their personal belongings.

However, the Barbudans have repeatedly claimed that they have nothing to return to on their island home, and they are unable to find alternative accommodation in Antigua, as prospective landlords are averse to renting to them.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has more than once advised both Public Works and NODS to be lenient with the Barbudans at Barrymore.

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