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Jun 14, 2016

Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission Gives Update

Since its establishment in January, the local media has only met with the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission on two occasions, the second being this morning during a breakfast meeting at the Radisson. An informal gathering, including Chairperson Lisel Alamilla, Queen’s Counsel Anthony Ross and legal draftsman Randal Shepherd, provided an update on progress that has been made over the past few months.  The working group is tasked with implementing the consent order of the Caribbean Court of Justice that compels the Government of Belize to adopt positive measures in identifying and protecting rights arising from customary land tenure.  While the commission has made significant inroads with the respective Maya and non-Maya communities in the south, it has been equally challenging.  Alamilla apprised the media on meetings that have been held with N.G.O.s in Toledo, including the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association.

 

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Chair, Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission

“We spoke about the importance of the commission consulting with the Maya people or their representatives.  We spoke about the importance that whatever we do must fit within the framework of the constitution and that we cannot be discriminating against group or groups of people.  The order also speaks to what will be the outcome of the entire process which is ensuring that we’re protecting the rights of the Maya people and ensuring that we protect the rights as it relates to Maya customary land tenure. The first consultation we had was with the steering committee that the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcalde Association has formed and we followed that with a sensitization meeting with the N.G.O.s that work in the south and then we started a consultation with elected leaders from all the villages in the Toledo District, Maya and non-Maya villages, including Punta Gorda Town.  So we zoned the district into nine and we had nine meetings over a two-week period.”

 

Reporter

“Commissioner can you tell us about how long this process will have to take?  Give us an idea of a timeline because I get the sense that people want results now.”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“I don’t think there is a timeline.  This is not a project that has a very clear beginning and a very clear end.  It is a process that will unfold as we go along; I mean it is of course in an area that is geographically very difficult to access.  It involves, at least in the Toledo District, fifty villages.  So there’s no timeline to say and it really depends on the willingness of people to come to the table to start the dialogue with the Government of Belize through the commission.”

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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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