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Jul 11, 2018

Jalacte Residents Complain that BAHA Checkpoint Inconveniences Local Farmers

According to Coc, farmers in Jalacte Village are no longer able to access and use lands that were traditionally set aside for agriculture because the road that has since been built bisects their properties.  The BAHA substation, says Coc, is located in the center of the village and also poses an inconvenience to residents who are often stopped and searched at the checkpoint.

 

Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, MLA

“The Government of Belize failed to honor the Caribbean Court of Justice’s order, honor or uphold the recognition that Maya people have rights to their lands and did not follow due process for compulsory taking of lands.”

 

Reporter

“Okay, so are you guys suing for damages?  What redress do you hope the court will give to the Jalacte villagers?”

 

Cristina Coc

Cristina Coc

“Well, first and foremost that the Government of Belize, that the court will assist the Government of Belize to recognize that it has an obligation to uphold the rights of Maya people with respect to property rights.  The rights that are afforded and affirmed in the consent order of 2015 is equal to any other property title and should carry the same kind of protection.  With respect to this particular case, clearly the communities seek redress for violations and are asking for compensation for the damages that have been caused on their land.  For instance, the farmers that used to use that land can no longer use that land because it has been completely bulldozed and so any arable land, any land that could be used for farming is no longer suitable for farming.  In addition to that, water channels have been completely degraded.  The quality of water, the quality of animals that are used for hunting, the quality of land used for farming, the foods that are gathered from those lands can no longer be attained by the community.  Second, there are other issues related to this development.  For instance, because the BAHA substation is located in the middle of their village, villagers are often stopped at the station as they move through their village lands.  Sometimes their produce are taken without any explanation, without any justification, while these are produce that are produced right on their lands.  So having to go through that checkpoint, often their produce is taken and that is not for them, they are just freely passing through their lands and so a lot of these other issues have arisen as a result of this development and as a result of the failure of the government’s compliance to really honor the free, prior and informed consent of the Maya communities.”

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