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Jul 25, 2018

MLA Refutes AG Office, Says G.O.B. Coercing Villagers Into Supporting U.S. Capital

Cristina Coc

But the Maya Leaders Alliance, which represents the governance of the indigenous community, refutes the position of the Attorney General’s Office.  According to spokesperson Cristina Coc, government is, for all intents and purposes, coercing villagers into supporting U.S. Capital’s latest endeavor within the protected area.  Earlier today, Coc told News Five that the Solicitor General and his team, including U.S. Capital representatives, are seeking approval from the buffer communities with only few days notice in the context of free, prior and informed consent.

 

Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, MLA

“As the spokesperson for the Toledo Alcaldes Association who are the traditional representatives of all thirty-nine of our villages, including these buffer communities that we speak about, we have nothing official from the Government of Belize or from U.S. Capital to indicate one way or the other that they have applied or in the process of applying or whatever the case might be, for a renewed license to explore.  We have heard, however, directly from members of our community that the company, along with the Solicitor General on behalf of the government have been moving to the communities to request meetings to speak either about, it’s very unclear what the agendas of these meetings are going to be, except that they are asking for meetings almost two or three days at the most after they engage the leaders.  The leaders have told them that’s inadequate notice, we have our customary process that we follow if we are to call a community meeting.  The alcaldes, in particular, have questioned whether or not they have engaged the leadership of the alcalde’s association prior to coming to the village which is also a customary process.  What we can say is that, you will recall the first time that U.S. Capital gained permit to work inside the park, it was in the absence of the free, prior, informed consent of the Maya communities who would be directly impacted and then the remainder of the communities that would be also affected by this development.  Now the permit was granted, irrespective of Maya people’s position and at that point in time the government had told us that well, the matter is still before the court, whether or not you have rights to those lands.  We are now in 2018.  The question of whether or not Maya people, and in particular, those four Maya communities which buffer the park, the question of whether or not they have affirmed rights to those lands has been settled in the courts.  It is now a decision, a binding decision that there is affirmation that those communities have rights to those lands and resources and by virtue of having those rights the government then has an obligation to protect those rights as it would protect any other form of property rights, which means then that the communities, if the land was being, if there is an interest in developing the land, whether that be for oil or any other development, then the communities must give their free, prior, informed consent.  They must be adequately consulted.”

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1 Response for “MLA Refutes AG Office, Says G.O.B. Coercing Villagers Into Supporting U.S. Capital”

  1. Marie says:

    I agree with Miss Coc, why the rush to emergency meeting if the Indigenious councillors are not ready to refute US Capital. Seems very fishy to make quick decisions that will benefit them.

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