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Aug 9, 2017

Crique Sarco Initiates Maya Land Registry

The very first admission into the newly formed Maya Land Registry has been made by the remote southern village of Crique Sarco.  The far-flung community in the Toledo District is one of twenty-three indigenous populations that has signed on to the consent order, following a monumental land rights case against the Government of Belize in 2007, that went as far as the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2015.  The CCJ, in its ruling, ordered the Barrow administration to create an effective mechanism to identify and protect Mayan lands in conformity with their traditional governance.  Today, on the commemoration of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Crique Sarco has officially entered into record a geographical map delineating its boundaries among several other buffer communities that fringe the Sarstoon Temash National Park.  It is a pilot project that was spearheaded by the Sarstoon and Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, SATIIM.  News Five spoke with Executive Director Froyla Tzalam.


Froyla Tzalam

Froyla Tzalam, Executive Director, SATIIM

“The work actually started in earnest in 2012, when we took some leaders from the buffer communities to Guatemala to share an experience that the Guatemalan Mayas were experiencing regarding their lands, and when they came back they said, “You know, perhaps we can do something similar in Belize.”  This is after acknowledgment of the 2007 landmark judgment in which nothing had been done and the community wanted to protect its territory and they wanted to demarcate it to identify it, and so they felt that this was something that would benefit them.  And from there on we continued the discussion in finding the resources and making sure the community was ready for that big commitment because, like I keep saying, this has to be what the community wants and it has to be through a process that everybody accepts and understands.  Otherwise, you end up with a project that doesn’t have any longstanding basis.  So clearly for us it was important that everybody understood what the requirements were, like what we would give, what they would give and how we would work together.  So from there on we started and it took two years from the first meeting with the neighbors to where we are today.  They initially said it would be very easy to identify our boundaries, we already know more or less where it is.  But actually when it came time to sign those boundary agreements a lot of people got cold feet, said, “Well I’m not really sure I want to do that” and a lot of negotiation and more socialization of what this process is.”

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