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May 18, 2016

MLA Speaks Up on Commission Decision

The Toledo Alcaldes Association and the Maya Leaders Alliance remain at loggerheads with the government-appointed Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission, following an incident on Monday in Punta Gorda Town.  As we reported, TAA President Alfonso Cal was refused a meeting with commission chair Lisel Alamilla and was summarily removed from the organization’s headquarters when police were called to the office.  Since then, the commission has responded and no reference to that incident was made in the release.  The statement goes on to say that a scheduled meeting with thirty-two village leaders was held on Monday and that discussion was fruitful.  Now, the Toledo Alcaldes Association has been leading the charge on Maya land rights issues for over three decades and is the recognized body when it comes to dealing with the case.  So if the president, who represents the organization, was evicted from the premises then who did Alamilla meet with?  That’s what continues to baffle MLA spokesperson Cristina Coc, who told News Five that the Toledo Alcaldes Association is comprised of traditional leaders, as well those who are elected.

 

On the Phone: Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, MLA

“For us the Maya people it is very clear what is before us.  What is before us is the implementation of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s order.  Now the court made an order which was consented to by the Government of Belize.  The government has established a commission that it feels is capable and has the blessing and the authority to act on behalf of the state.  Our mandate is to consult and negotiate with the state of Belize, not with an individual and not with a particular commission but any commission that the government deems fit to speak on its behalf and to act on its behalf.  We recognize and we continue to appreciate the establishment of the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission which is currently chaired by Lisel Alamilla.  We saw the press release that she sent out, as you mentioned, and in that release I am trying to understand what the purpose of the release was and what she was trying to allude to.  It did not mention the incident, as you rightly pointed out, it did not say one way or another whether or not it was true.  We stand by what we say.  We were asked to vacate those premises, we were told to leave, we were told it was private property and not a public space and we were told that we were not welcomed at that meeting.  We take that to mean that the commission, and Lisel acting on behalf of the commission, is basically saying I am not willing to engage with your traditional leaders, with your Alcaldes.  Now bear in mind that the Maya land rights cases have been led time and time again for the last thirty something years by the Toledo Alcaldes Association.  These are the traditional leaders who represent each one of our thirty-nine communities, they are the only legitimate representatives of our communities and our customary rights and our land tenure security.  So if the commission’s position is that it is unwilling to speak with the Maya then the only thing that is being undermined in this case is the Caribbean Court of Justice’s order.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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