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Apr 12, 2016

Should Garifuna Community Have Joined in on Indigenous Land Rights Claim?

Roy Cayetano

The Maya land rights case over the entitlement of the indigenous community to occupy and use land communally in southern Belize remains before the high courts.  Despite a landmark ruling a few years ago and a recent affirmation of that decision by the CCJ, litigations between the Maya community and the Government of Belize is ongoing.  Today, Roy Cayetano, of the National Garifuna Council, weighed in on whether the Garinagu, as an indigenous group in Belize, should have joined the Mayas in the suit against G.O.B.

 

Roy Cayetano, Garifuna Historian

“My own feeling is that we should have been, we should have registered our interest as an interested party in the Maya litigation.  Unfortunately, we didn’t.  But I also believe that we have rights, as Garifuna people we have rights.  As two recent rulings, the Inter-American Court of Justice, the OAS Inter-American Court of Justice based in Costa Rica, in cases brought by OFRENE have shown.  The findings of the learned judges said that Afro-descendants and indigenous people do have rights and this case was brought by OFRENE, a Garifuna organization in Honduras.  So I think that has implications for us because we are also Belize.  The last time I checked, a member of the OAS and that would have, maybe Dolores can corroborate as a lawyer, my suspicion, my thinking that it must have implications for us.”

 

The Maya communities of Santa Cruz and Jalacte have since filed separate lawsuits against G.O.B. pertaining to land occupation and usage in the respective villages.

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