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Mar 9, 2011

Environmentalists make a declaration at 2 Day Oil Summit in P.G.

A two-day oil summit held in Punta Gorda Town by a host of environmental N.G.O.s culminated today. After much debate on the benefits and drawbacks of oil exploration in protected areas of Belize and in particular in the Sarstoon Temash National Park, the summit adopted a position paper.  Present were the Sarstoon Temash Institute of Indigenous Management, Oceana and the Committee Organized for Liberty through Action. During the conference various references were made regarding recent manmade disasters involving oil spills within the Gulf of Mexico.  According to one public speaker there have been more questions than answers concerning the issue of oil exploration in the Jewel.

Public Speaker, SATIIM Oil Summit

“The people believe that it is embarrassing and disrespectful when they heard and quote the prime minister’s words ‘drill we will’.  This total disrespect for the people of Toledo only justifies the neglect our people of Toledo have suffered as a result of this kind of dictatorial leadership.  Do we call this power to the people?  These are questions that should be asked.  It is said that over time drilling for oil interferes with the tectonic plates beneath the surface of the Earth.  This is something that will eventually lead to earthquakes.  How factual is this statement?  You recall the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and how it affected the United States of America.  Once we have an oil spill how will it impact Belize?  Have we done a cost benefit analysis of the matter?  Would it benefit the Toledo District and by extension the nation more if oil is found or in the long term through consultation of the land for the purposes of tourism?  Can you cite our for this nation a comparison with other developed countries in a similar situation?”

Audrey Matura Shepherd, Vice President, Oceana In Belize

Audrey Matura Shepherd

“It is clear that there are some people who are neutral, some people who oppose and some people who are for.  The idea of getting the declaration is to find the common grounds on which people agree even when they disagree on other points.  And so if you notice the declaration really is twofold.  There are those who are saying we shouldn’t drill but those recognize that it still is a decision that needs to be made by the people as a people.  You can’t impose the view of a few on all the others.  So we have gone a step further where the people are saying even where we drill and where we drill it has to be that it is underneath the umbrella of several things and four of them were pointed out: economic benefit for the people, environmental protection, rule of law and human rights.  So it’s not a, it’s like the start of a momentum to get more people involved and informed.  We didn’t poll the people to see who agree or disagree or are still neutral because it is still just the start.  We will know that at the end of the day when we have a referendum or anything else that comes along.  It is called an oil summit because everything centers around the issue of oil.”

At the end of the summit, the policy paper was presented by Mario Chub, a resident of Santa Theresa Village.

Mario Chub

Mario Chub, Resident, Santa Teresa Village

“SATIIM is committed to supporting their wishes and fighting for a better future for all Belizeans. These are some of the critical points that the communities and N.G.O.s laid out as their main concern. There are four main principles.

Principle One is the human rights issue.

  1. 1. We call for integrity and transparency in the consultation process and reject any attempt to misinform or mislead and divide our community.
  2. 2. We demand that the communities’ voices be heard and their traditional decision-making structure and process be honored.
  3. 3. We demand that factual information be provided upfront and that the rights of the communities to their free prior and inform consent must be respected

Second Principle is the Environmental Issue

  1. 1. Land and water resources are the foundation of our livelihoods and guarantees for our cultural spiritual and social continuity. So we must treat them with the greatest care
  2. 2. We recognize that irregular weather pattern such as drought and flood are already having negative impacts on our watersheds and we fear pollution and contamination that are associated with oil development which will make it worse.
  3. 3. Environmental stewardship is an essential principle of Maya and Garinagu Cultures which guarantees our continuity as people and the well-being of our future generations
  4. 4. The people of Toledo highly value and depend on our land and natural resources as the basis of our livelihood. Thus all communities in Toledo call for the protection of our rights to a clean and healthy environment.”

The document will now be forwarded to government.

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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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12 Responses for “Environmentalists make a declaration at 2 Day Oil Summit in P.G.”

  1. rigrat says:

    A couple of things.

    Belize will never ever see anything even remotely resembling what happened in the gulf of Mexico. It doesn’t have the geology. Oil drilling also doesn’t cause earthquakes.
    The presence of oil drilling has never affected tourism. Barbados has a lot of drilling for example and the tourists don’t even notice.
    Too much rubbish is being fed to the Belizean people by rabble rousers. Too many lies are being told by APAMO and others.

  2. REGGIE says:

    You guys have to keep up the pressure on the Pm he think he owe Belizean People.He run the country like his law firm.One man show and the few around him is yes SIr.But always remember is was the straw that break the camel back.and i know he is reaching that bridge now,

  3. soldier says:

    The question here is”who is getting all the benefits from this oil”?i will tell you who,the LAW FIRMS who sign this million$ contracts,and the POLITICIANS in the PUP & UDP MAFIA,they are the ones who are getting everything,i left belize over 20 years ago,my town streets are worst than when i left,what a shame to the area representative Erwin contreras,my RUIZ the town mayor,what kind of leadership are this 2 rubber stamps doing for the town?NONE.looks like they only care that they get a big salary.and to hell with the benque people.i will like to hear mr Erwin contreras explain on how it is that after over 50 years of exsistence of the udp or pup benque still have FARM ROADS?

  4. Elgin Martinez says:

    Belize is not Egypt Mr Mubarrowak stop treating the Belizean people like hostages.I thought Belize was a democratic Country.

  5. From the West says:

    I agree that we will never have a spill like the one in the gulf. We need to recover the natural resources. If the NGOs would be reasonable, they might be able to positivelly influence the development, but I fear that they are not reasonable, and will be side lined. If the people in Spanish Lookout can live with oil exploration, why can’t the rest of the country, and the animals live with it too? Is nature more important than humans? Lets develop, but use common sense.

  6. Elgin Martinez says:

    GOB don’t even have the logistics to keep the city clean as a result i don’t no how they would handle an oil spill.

  7. B groovy says:

    Like the goverment these NGO answer to there puppet master up north….Does
    Any body cares what people in Toledo want?……Take a pole

  8. Iluminati says:

    Our salvation is not in exporting crude oil to other countries, look at Nigeria and Venzuela, huge oil deposits yet 2 of the poorest countries in the world, Look at the richest countries, Monaco, Lichtenstein, Norway and #7 Bermuda, none of them have economies dependent on natural resources the have developed their people and their service industry, this is the way to go. our leaders are not enlightened enough.

  9. javier solis says:

    Those poor people in Toledo are being used by the likes of the highly paid audrey matura. They are doomed to remain poor. The industralized countries who have no ban on oil exploration pay the likes of matura to influence our stupid little minds not to drill for oil and remain dependent on them.
    Poor people of Toledo. You will be kept poor, but matura gets her $15000 monthly check. Ask her if i am lying. You think she is an environmentalist for the likes of it? No papacito, she is singing for her supper. Lets say Oceana stops paying her, you think the fight would continue?
    Poor people of PG. You are the pawns in this battle of the elephants.

  10. Belizean says:

    Environmentalist?????????????????????

  11. Belizean says:

    rigrat you have wisely spoken, I could tell when someone is in the same carreer path as mines. those people dont understand cause Matura mek too much noise and inflicts others to show emotional responses rather than educated ones..

  12. rasman says:

    I wonder what would happen should the mayas wage an arms struggle in Belize?

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