Upon its closure in 1972, Wards Corner – an Edwardian department store building in Tottenham, North London – was transformed into a bustling market led by local Latin American migrants. Since then, it has become warmly referred to as Pueblito Paisa – or Latin Village – and described as the core of the UK’s Latin community.
Home to unique cafes, fresh food, South and Central American supermarkets and vibrant clothes stalls amongst much else, the market is permeated with the sounds and flavours of Latin America.
Through Latin Village, working-class ethnic minority migrants have established a thriving environment in which such tireless devotion to community has allowed for their businesses to grow from strength to strength. Perhaps most importantly, it has provided unrivalled support to those who arrived in the UK after escaping persecution as a result of several political upheavals in the early 2000s.
…it is the Latin American community which faces the wrath of a society seemingly set on minimising the turmoil of further displacement.
Located next to Seven Sisters tube station, the traders of Latin Village have battled against incessant threats to its existence over the years. The most recent blow was delivered by Haringey Council as it proposed to facilitate property developer Grainger’s plans to demolish the market, replacing it with a block of 196 luxury flats.
Despite Haringey Council initiating a regeneration programme in which they intend to provide stallholders with a new home on the same site that they currently occupy, the Latin American community have challenged the sincerity of their claims.
Save Latin Village, a campaign group protesting fervently against the demolition, has suggested the reality of this regeneration will see the market reduced in size by 50%, while rent fees are forecast to increase by 300%.
This is not to mention that future market owners, Grainger and Quarterbridge, have already demonstrated both negligent and discriminatory behaviour towards stallholders. Traders have faced being unfairly evicted, while complaints of victimisation and harassment as well as a racial discrimination claim have been filed against Quarterbridge who described the majority BME community as ‘bloody illegal immigrants’.
What the proposed demolition of Latin Village reaffirms to the migrant community is that their livelihoods are at the whim of corporate greed; that providing further space for the rich is a priority far outweighing the needs of working-class citizens.
This careless insensitivity towards the destruction of such a crucial centre of culture for the Latin American community reflects the broader political climate of the UK; a climate which cultivates hostility towards migrants. What the proposed demolition of Latin Village reaffirms to the migrant community is that their livelihoods are at the whim of corporate greed; that providing further space for the rich is a priority far outweighing the needs of working-class citizens.
Despite Haringey borough (where the market is situated) being one of the poorest in the country, the 196 flats to be built by Grainger would be far from affordable. This project does not, therefore, cater to the community it threatens to throw into disarray. The United Nations intervened in 2017, describing the redevelopment as ‘a gentrification project that represents a threat to cultural life’.
Gentrification disproportionately impacts marginalised communities and, in this case, it is the Latin American community which faces the wrath of a society seemingly set on minimising the turmoil of further displacement.
ImmiNews stands in solidarity with those affected and would encourage all who are able to consider donating to the Save Latin Village campaign. They are due to protest again on Saturday 26th October.