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Dec 17, 2015

Santa Cruz 13 Vindicated

The Santa Cruz Thirteen appeared before Magistrate Emerson Banner on Wednesday to an unexpected retraction of the charge of unlawful imprisonment.  That is after the group of villagers was trooped to the magistrate’s court in Punta Gorda on June twenty-fourth, following their arrest of Rupert Myles in Santa Cruz Village.  Led by MLA spokesperson Cristina Coc, the collective, after a series of adjournments, was informed of the withdrawal.  It is a significant development in the wake of a fiasco that ensued when the villagers bound and paraded Myles through the Santa Cruz when he allegedly disrupted a public meeting in that community.  They have been trying fruitlessly to evict Myles from his home atop a sacred mound at the ancient Maya city of Uxbenka.  News Five spoke by phone with Cristina Coc.


On the Phone: Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance

“Yesterday was our court appearance for the Santa Cruz Thirteen case and we learnt that the first charge of false imprisonment was withdrawn; the prosecutor withdrew that charge and so the only charge that’s pending right now is the common assault charge and we also got disclosure for the full case as well. We got a trial date for February seventeenth; that is the next time that we will appear and that will be a full trial.”


Isani Cayetano

“How significant is this development with regards to everything that has happened since the incident in Santa Cruz?”


Cristina Coc

On the Phone: Cristina Coc

“It’s quite significant. We feel that it was important for us to have that case withdrawn because we always felt that no such thing happened and so we weren’t surprised that that charger was withdrawn. We are preparing with our communities to go to the trial and have the court vindicate our people.”


Isani Cayetano

“Do you feel or is the sentiment of the villagers, the Santa Cruz thirteen, that they may have been victims of a deliberate attack by the powers that be to subject them to this form of humiliation in the wake of what took place with Mister Rupert Myles?”


On the Phone: Cristina Coc

“Absolutely, absolutely. I think not just myself, but the community as a whole feels like this was a configured effort to try to break down the unity of the community and to try to intimidate the Maya people as we assert the rights for our land. We feel that there are outside agents that are working to organize to do so and now that we learned for instance that there is a group on a campaign in all our communities that’s been led by Joseph Estefan and his team. And they are basically saying that they are getting the orders from the highest office, they are getting orders from the prime minister and that they have been given the resources to go to the community and begin to reserve lands for the community. And that they are the team that makes up the commission that has been ordered by the court for the state to implement the Maya land rights decision. And that the news that they are spreading in the communities; that they have been selected as the commission and this commission is headed by Joseph Estefan. Now it is important for us as a community to hear from the government of Belize whether in fact they are willing and prepared to confirm this or whether or not they will distance themselves from Joseph Estefan and what he is claiming in those communities. We also see that he was very friendly and very supportive of Rupert Myles being in the community and you know time will show where those people stand. And we feel clearly that this was an effort to really intimidate our communities and really try to play the race card in our communities and that is clearly not the issue. And so we will let the court decide. As we have always been law abiding citizens. Our communities have never been afraid to go before the courts; we believe in justice and we believe that the court will continue to maintain its independence and will vindicate the communities.”


The Santa Cruz Thirteen was informed that at their subsequent appearance on February seventeenth, 2016, the matter will go to trial. As to Myles, he continues to live on the mound and despite announcement by the National Institute of Culture and History that he will be charged for destroying the sacred temple that has not yet occurred. 

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