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Gentrification, Displacement and a Legal Limbo - Save Latin Village

Monday 25th September 2017 | Toms

Pueblito Paisa, a name that wouldn't mean much to most Londoners, but means the whole world to the large Latin-American community in Tottenham Hale.

It is an indoor market hidden away behind small doors that are squeezed in between the bright shop fronts of Seven Sisters. More than just an indoor market, it is a community, that enables the many families that have fled the unfavourable conditions of Columbia, to lead a stable life, and not face uncertainty.

That is, until 2008 when a company called Grainger, submitted a proposal for a redevelopment of the market into a property for high-end stores, as well as residential flats. It has been an uphill battle for the Latino community ever since.

Gentrification is the process of redeveloping areas to conform to a middle-class taste. As many people will say, this usually happens in areas with a strong cultural presence, a DIY spirit, and hordes of artists that refuse to conform. Gentrification attracts middle to upper-class persons, who still want to be in touch with the free-spirited culture of their youth, without giving anything back.
 
As a result, the rent, and the price of living rise, many venues and bars get closed down, and the same artists that made the area what it is, are driven out. Removing the Pueblito Paisa would take away something essential to the spirit of Seven Sisters, replacing it with a shiny new department store, to contrast with the hippies, artists, and musicians living in the surroundings.
 
But this time, gentrification will result in something more than just disgruntled artists.

Many of the shop owners in the market have fled the war-stricken Columbia. What a lot of people don't realise, is that Columbia is in a state of war, with extreme left guerrilla factions, American-backed death squads, as well as drug cartels.
 
Poverty, violence, and death are everyday occurrences in the lives of the locals, which is also shown by the nearly 6 million Internally Displaced Persons, second only to Syria. Many people have fled Columbia for a safer, and more stable life. Many of these people have fled to England, and of these people, there are those who have built up the Pueblito Paisa into what it is today, a community. And now, with the plans of redevelopment looming over their heads, there is a real possibility that the displaced, will become displaced once again, this time without a safety net of such a strong community.
 
 
The people have been actively fighting against the idea of the redevelopment, fending off proposals in a court case after court case, and many of them were hopeful. This year, the Haringey council, in a surprising turn of events, finally gave the green light to one of the proposals sent by Grainger. 
 
The Wards Corner Coalition challenged the decision in court, in a hearing back in July. The council has told them that the final decision will be revealed in 6 to 9 months. Until then, the people are faced with a legal uncertainty, hosting fundraisers to pay off the legal fees accrued, as well as preparing for any future expenditures. All of this, while facing potential eviction, economic destitution of entire families, destruction of their heritage, as well as the fear of the lack of access to affordable housing.
 
So please, come to Seven Sisters, step through the tiny doors of the Latin Village, into a world that feels thousands of miles away from London. Get yourself a cup of Columbia coffee, or one of the many traditional (and affordable) dishes, and support the many Latin-American families and the community itself that that is such an integral part of Seven Sisters.
 
 

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