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Jun 23, 2015

Santa Cruz Villagers Meet With Maya Leaders Alliance Post Rupert Myles Incident

There is public outrage over an incident that took place in Santa Cruz, Toledo on Saturday afternoon. A Creole man, Rupert Myles was detained by a group of Maya residents and tied up.  The photographs of the man in handcuffs on social media has caused a huge uproar and even the Prime Minister has taken a firm stand on the issue. Today the Maya Leaders Alliance went into high gear and met with the Santa Cruz residents, who claim that contrary to reports Myles was not beaten but was detained after several requests to him to remove a structure he erected on sacred land within the Uxbenka Archaeological Site. But there is perceived discrimination in the treatment of Myles and the fallout prompted a meeting today. News Five’s Isani Cayetano headed south today and files this report from Santa Cruz.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Contention over the seemingly unauthorized settlement of a piece of land in Santa Cruz has resulted in a power struggle between one man and an entire village, firmly rooted in its practice of customary law.  Rupert Myles was arrested on Saturday by residents of the community after showing up and reportedly disrupting a meeting which preceded a planned cleanup.

 

Rupert Myles, Resident, Santa Cruz Village

Rupert Myles

“I wasn’t there in my vehicle and I take witness along with me because of this same thing, arrogant people. So when I walk out a guy fling a machete, so when I hold the door to get in because when he did that everybody start going into the vehicle. Everybody come out behind me.”

 

At the heart of the dispute is this elevated wooden structure perched atop a leafy mound.  The small hill, however, forms a cluster of ruins that together make up Uxbenka.  Myles and his family have been living here for over a year.  The problem is that  the archaeological site is protected by the Uchbenka K’in Ajaw Association.

 

J

Jose Mes

ose Mes, Former UKAA Chairman

“We are not chasing anybody out, we are just saying that to live within the property of Uxbenka is not available, there is no way that you can live within. So what he did he bulldoze the place up the hill and the evidence is there. Like I said since we are protecting this guy just keep on burning bush on the surrounding of the Uxbenka. As is aid the evidence is there and he is extending his structure there.”

 

Rupert Myles

“When I tell dehn that I will push back so they give me an eviction letter, bring down my house and I put on an addition. When they tell me come out form here I chop more bush fih sih how high dehn wahn jump.”

 

It all came to a head on Saturday just outside of the community center when Alcalde Manuel Pop summoned villagers to detain Myles for unruly behavior.

 

Manuel Pop, Alcalde, Santa Cruz

Manuel Pop

“He came on that day and he came here and slam the table and after that he go back and I don’t know what he do in the car. I just tell my police to go and catch him. Well only that I did but because of this they don’t want them to stay by the ruin because no villager stays there. The villagers say that they don’t want him there that is why they call this meeting and after that they hold the man and they hand cuff him here and he stayed there and when we finished doing that we go and called the police but the police no show up and we can’t do nothing and he just left like that and it end like that and we have nothing to say it just left on that time”

 

The matter has since sparked controversy across the country, particularly since the prime minister has weighed in on the situation.

 

Pablo Mis, Maya Leaders Alliance

Pablo Mis

“We have to say that we were shocked by the remarks of the Prime Minister for lack of a better interpretation. I believe the Prime Minister essentially was premature in making remarks that can insight further division, insight violence amongst ourselves as peaceful people. However it was very flipping day for the Prime Minister in Dangriga so we don’t want to be very judgemental of his remarks, because he himself admitted in the interviews that he didn’t have the fact related to the matter but we have since forwarded all the reports to the various ministries and we expect that the Prime Minister gives this an urgent attention so that these kinds of incidents do not have to happen again. It is obviously an attempt to overshadow the fundamental issues and that is that respect for Maya customary practices, respect for Maya people’s rights to resources, all their rights not limited, all their rights as asserted by the Caribbean Court of Justice. This has to be seen as a conscious effort to cloud and it was our hope that the remarks of the PM does not in any way jeopardize good faith on the part of the government as we move towards implementation. I want to state clearly that we have reached out to the government to sit down and to have an initial meeting to chart the way forward for implementation. We again will be communicating to the government the need for that meeting to happen because incidents as such are prone to happen if the government does not take serious action in fulfilling the obligations as ordered by the court.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

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6 Responses for “Santa Cruz Villagers Meet With Maya Leaders Alliance Post Rupert Myles Incident”

  1. Ali BaBarrow says:

    1) is Myles on lease land, his own land, government land, village land? This should not be that difficult to determine.

    2) is it true that Myles made reference to a gun in his vehicle? Did he have a gun? If he has a gun, does he have a permit? If he made reference to a gun, then the alcalde decides this is a threat, then has village police apprehend Myles, and then call PG police to investigate; what exactly does Emperor Ali BaBarrow think should have happened?

    3) Myles was handcuffed. Was he beaten after that? Did he require hospitalization? Was his family threatened?

  2. David says:

    Imani did not asked the hard question, are the Mayan people racist, do they allow black people to live in their villages?

  3. FullTalkButNoFullDiListen says:

    myles no live da santa cruz…he live dah bella vista…he is known to take people land since he connected with government…hurry call racism…

  4. Rod says:

    David the question is is barrow a racist I say he is the biggest racist in this country has anyone asked him why their is only 12 non black working in this gov out of thousands of gov jobs no has anyone asked him why only the Spanish people get deported no this is why their are thousands of illegal Africans living in Belize now why you never hear about any African being deported only Spanish people. Ask barrow these questions the biggest biggot and racist in the history of this country.

  5. BelizeanInAsia says:

    SO what is the difference between this and what the LGBT movement is fighting for? Isn’t ostracizing someone because of having a partner who is not of your race a form of discrimination? Sure he should not have been digging at an archaeological site but they would not even provide his wife with a piece of land? Is this not discrimination? All Belizean should be entitled to a piece of land not just the Maya. The Minnonites came to Belize long long after every one else and yet they have lands. Sick! We should blame ourselves for not rectifying this foolishness though.

  6. Henry Dueck says:

    racist ,hmm? the guy forced his way in , when he was supposed to ask the community permission before he started any kind of development. Then pulls a gun on them. the fact that he has gotten a lot of support form the Belize city crew is the real racism

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