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Closing Tottenham's ‘Latin Village’ market is essentially social cleansing - it must be stopped

Richard Sudan
Mario Washington-Ihieme

Pueblito Paisa, also known as ‘Latin Village’, is located in the heart of North London in Seven Sisters, Tottenham, and for decades has provided a thriving market place for working class ethnic minority immigrant communities and businesses. It hosts the second-largest Latino community in the UK.

The landmark Seven Sisters Indoor Market attracts visitors from not just London, but also from across the country. Since its inception in the early 2000s it has offered a safe haven for those fleeing persecution in their home countries, allowing them to set up businesses and become part of a thriving community hub. For new arrivals looking to make a new life amid the hustle and bustle of an often unforgiving city, Pueblito Paisa offers a slice of home, while providing a little comfort and support.

Step outside of Seven Sisters tube station, and the first place you will see is Pueblito Paisa Cafe, the largest of the 60 or so businesses trading in the market.

But for more than a decade, traders have had to become activists and campaigners, as Haringey Council, along with property developer Grainger, have planned to redevelop the popular market into luxury flats. The plans started in 2005.

Some might call this gentrification. But traders fighting the development plans call it “social cleansing”.

Latin Village’s traders are predominantly ethnic minority and working class immigrant women. The market is in the borough of Haringey, which one of the poorest in the country. Needless to say, if the redevelopment plans go ahead, and the market is moved, the demographics will also shift. The area will make way for more affluent communities, which will most certainly not be brown and working class immigrants. Those currently trading at the market have poured their heart and soul and savings into the market, have built their lives there, had families and call it home.

Ever since the council’s compulsory purchase order was green-lit, the Save Latin Village Campaign has been raising funds to wage a legal campaign. Their arguments have been backed by the United Nations which has acknowledged the redevelopment plans as constituting a violation of the human rights of Latin Village’s diverse communities. Despite this, the campaign has lost its legal fight in courts and will now lodge an appeal. This takes time and the kind of money needed to challenge faceless big business.

Latin Village traders have been assured they will be able to set up across the road during construction and then be moved to a new market on the redeveloped site. But there are no legal guarantees. There is uncertainty over how much the new rent charges would be and opponents of the move to shutdown Latin Village say they have had their existing rents increased by as much as 28 per cent with a mere week's notice. The management team which runs the site sent out letters saying the increases were overdue following steep increases in energy prices over the past four years.

Some might expect more support for Latin Village from the local Labour council, where representatives of the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting network Momentum deselected and replaced a number of members last year. Their inaction however, does not sit well in an ever-growing climate of hostility towards migrant communities across Britain, which needs to be fought.

This climate has led to similar examples of minorities communities facing distress across the capital, as London increasingly becomes a playground for the rich.

If multicultural London is the London we know and love, then it’s vital and critical that we support struggles like the save Latin Village Campaign.

Destroying London’s true character and allowing our immigrant communities, which are the heart, soul and lifeblood of the city, to be replaced by fancy luxury apartments, would transform this city into a mere shadow of itself. Those who have built Latin Village represent part of wider struggle and deserve much better than this.

Information on the campaign to save Latin Village is here

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