Just to provide some context:
At the Seven Sisters Indoor Market, aka Pueblito Paisa market, in North London, Colombians, Caribbean and African people manage to make a living in their small businesses but, equally important, this is a real hub for their communities –it is the only public place in London where children run around playing freely (even the very young!), whilst the men gather to watch the football and play ‘La Bolita’ (Columbian lottery) and the ladies get their nails or hair done as an excuse to catch up with the past days’ events (very gender-typical I know but it is just so!). It is also one of the few places I know in this city where Latin-Americans can get a free plate of food if they are experiencing (even greater) hardship, or be given a temporary job to get them by, or cry, laugh and dance together to lift their spirits and feel at home.
The Pueblito Paisa and the Wards Corner Coalition (local residents and business owners) have been fighting for more than 5 years against Grainger, a multinational that wants to demolish the whole Wards Corner (the market housed in a period building, houses and independent high street businesses) to build a modern shopping centre and luxury flats, which the people who currently live and work in the area will not be able to afford, resulting in their displacement (yet again). There have been two court battles won but Grainger is persistent and has submitted yet another proposal, which unfortunately was given the go ahead by Haringey Council in a recent six-hour long meeting. Before going to the Council’s meeting, I had asked Geraldine, an 11-year old Colombian girl, what would happen if they lost the market, she replied “we’ll lose all we have”. In a meeting with the traders last week, Fabian, a black Colombian who runs a small restaurant, said “you guys are my family, this place is my home, we have to keep united and keep the fight”.
The campaign is continuing the battle at the Courts and with the Council to save this unique Pueblito Paisa and neighbouring homes and businesses; primarily, to preserve a place a few minorities, particularly Colombians, have made their own.
Does this have to do with Liberation? Yes, it does, Haringey Council and Grainger have been oppressing a diaspora that fled the oppression lived in their home countries: violence, corruption, guerrilla/war, poverty, exclusion and so on. They wanted a better life, they wanted to have a place in this society, but they are treated as third class citizens. They want to make a positive contribution to this society and also to preserve their culture and their unity, but they are being ejected from the very place that allows them just that.
Today I was reading a Colombian liberation psychologist, Barrero’s (2011) work on the Psycohistory of Political Violence in Colombia (for those who read Spanish, you can access the text on http://alfepsi.org/attachments/article/80/BarreroCuellar-EsteticaAtroz.pdf), and again I felt that siding with this community is important, and again I felt this local battle needs to join forces with others.
To sign our petition to the Mayor of London:
If you want to do something more, you are welcome, if you have any ideas they are welcome!
Hasta La Victoria Siempre (Che Guevara)