Founder triggered United Nations intervention to Save Latin Village

The United Nations publicly intervened at the hearing just in time! Karima Bennoune the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Rita Izsak-Ndiaye the Special Rapporteur on Minority issues and Surya Deva the current Chairperson of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights have been in contact with the Government of the United Kingdom, Transport for London and Grainger PLC with their concerns.

In the UN communication it was asserted that the “Latin Village … is a renowned space for social and cultural interactions” and that “it operates in effect as a cultural centre” and how it was “particularly important for women.” UN public interventionAfter making the first initial contact with the UN, I arranged a meeting, delivered a presentation, and made the case to the different teams of experts at the United Nations in Geneva in February 2017 and April 2017. I had initially identified the laws which had been contravened and cited them in my initial CPO objection. These laws were cited in the statement of case and the UN submission that I created and filed, triggering the UN intervention to take place just in time, to make a profound contribution to this case, being eventually presented to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid.

Just before the hearing on the 13th July, I met the Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights at the University of Oxford and asked for the communication to be made public instead of private which was the normal procedure. Subsequently this led to the UN making their communication public on on the 2nd August 2017, on their website as well as social media.

And it all started with a kind Professor of law called Dr Prakash Shah in September 2016. He became my Professor for module Cultural Diversity and Law precisely at the same time the Latin Village was being served with a Compulsory Purchase Order. It was issued with a discriminatory deadline for objections: as no Spanish version was made available, although the majority of the recipients did notspeak English fluently. A translation was provided after the deadline had expired. I explained that one of the reasons I was studying a Masters in Law apart from achieving a LLM, was to help me with this case as I have no background in Law. He permitted me to write a “Case for Saving the Latin Village.” And pointed me in the direction of cultural legal expert Dr Alexandra Xanthaki who later became our expert witness along with her contact Director of NGO Minority Rights Group International Lucy Claridge.

This case has been a lesson in inequality of arms. The counter party Haringey Council and Grainger PLC had award winning QCs and a large team from a prestigious law firm backed by public funding. Our team was solely funded by community crowdfunding whereby £23,268.71 was raised in 7 months with generous donations by Catherine Kwella and Colombian artist Oscar Murillo. Subsequently, Oscar Murillo formally announced at the CPO hearing, his offer for funding for buying the lease of the Latin Village and the whole Wards Corner site. His statement was also a commitment to an:

“ambitious restoration plan so that the site’s potential can be fully realised.” (Oscar Murillo)

Transport for London awarded the Latin Village (market) lease to Jonathan Owen Director of MAM without tendering the lease to third parties. It was legally challenged by Bindmans and a higher sum of £100k was offered by the Community Trust. A TFL investigation was initiated in February 2017 into the conduct of Jonathan Owen. Despite complaints of language with racial undertones being used with traders in a public meeting and threats to cultural diversity interests: the lease remained with Jonathan Owen. In the last six months it was revealed that Jonathan Owen used sexist expletives with reference to campaign female leaders. He also served an (extended) eviction date of 27/7/17 to disabled trader Fabian who was a victim of the 7/7 London Terrorist Bombings. This was for a 300% utility hike that is impacting at least 5 other traders.The debt Fabian owes isentirely utilities because of the utility prices being charged are over double that of market values. Jonathan Owen is literally pricing traders out of the market. He was also appointed by Grainger PLC and Haringey Council in 2012 and as the current market facilitator by Grainger PLC under the amended section 106 agreement to “promote the interests of the non-English speakers of traders.”

Fabian’s lawyer Khaled Moyeed has stated, “What Jonathan is doing amounts to harassment and discrimination. We need to stand up to him.”

Hopefully, the United Nations intervention will assist the chair of Transport of London: Mayor Sadiq Khan to react and rescind the lease that has been contested already.

We hope that Oscar Murillo will be awarded the lease, as he definitely holds diversity as a core value and as the ambassador to the UK Latin American community would uphold its interests.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the experts witnesses that have been crucial to the case: Dr Sara Gonzalez, Dr Patria Roman-Velasquez, Dr Alexandra Xanthaki, Dr Lucy Claridge, Dr Michael Edwards, Dr Myfanwy Taylor, our community plan architect Abigail Stevenson, Consultant Carlos Burgos of Pedro Achata Trust and expert resident Martin Ball.

Also I would like to give credits to Wards Corner Community Coalition, to the inspirational Vicky Alvarez – the long standing – president of the association El Pueblito Paisa Ltd, Latin Elephant, The London Latinxs 7 Sisters Market Fundraising team. Pam Isherwood, Candy Amsden, Sue Penny and Shirley Hanazawa who are the core members of the WCC (and the bedrock of the grassroot WCC campaign) and whom I’ve enjoyed weekly WCC Monday meetings with for over three years. Benjamin Hitchcock, Illary Valenzuela, Rosa Heimer, Lorena Gallego, Suzy Peña, Marcela Teran. All have been pivotal to the recent campaign to Save the Latin Village & Wards Corner. And a special thank you to David Mc Ewen for his unwavering support since the beginning and the design of the United Nations of Tottenham village map that was presented to the UN in Geneva.

And a huge thank you to Professor Prakash Shah for being the best professor that I have ever had.