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Jan 29, 2004

Maya leaders not satisfied with negotiations

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Negotiations have been taking place for years, and their case has been taken up by the O.A.S. …but so far representatives of Toledo’s Maya residents are not satisfied with the progress being made. This evening Greg Ch’oc of the Maya Leaders Alliance gave a lecture at the House of Culture and News 5′s Stewart Krohn caught up with him this afternoon.

Greg Ch’oc, Maya Leaders Alliance

“It’s very unfortunate that we are no closer to reaching an agreement than we were when we started. It’s very much in the government’s court now. I believe that the issues that we have raised with government on numerous occasions, both in Supreme Court and at the political level, has been reinforced by the ruling of the commission, which is an indictment to the government that they have been violating the rights of the Maya people of Toledo. Having said that, that doesn’t mean that there is no window of opportunity left. I think there is still the possibility for the right thing to be done.”

Stewart Krohn

“What are the issues that you believe are still outstanding that you would like to see resolved?”

Greg Ch’oc

“I believe that the issues of rights to resources in the south is one of the biggest issues and I think that the government is clear on what we are asking for and I believe that all it requires is a legislation that protects property rights of community in the south, in this case the Maya, which it would be collective ownership.”

Stewart Krohn

“Greg, the argument is often made–let’s call it the floodgates argument–that if the Maya of Toledo are given special rights then every ethnic group ought to enjoy those same rights. What do you say to that kind of argument?”

Greg Ch’oc

“Aspiring for equal rights is not special rights, and that is where we are, having a right to our land that we have used. And the position taken up by government and other interest groups have no foundation at all, both politically, legally and in every form.”

The Alliance is planning to hold a press conference to offer details of their position next week in Belize City.

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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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