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Oct 19, 2012

SATIIM wants postponement of EIA community meeting; DOE says no

Gregory Ch'oc

The Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, the Coalition to save Our Natural Heritage along with APAMO requested the government to delay consultations on an Environmental Impact Assessment developed by US Capital Energy Belize Limited for oil exploration and drilling in the Sarstoon Temash National Park. The request was made on the grounds that the communities to be affected did not have appropriate time to review the highly technical document which they wanted translated from English to Ketchi.  Well, that request has been denied and today the Ministry of Environment informed that the consultations will proceed on October twenty-fifth at five pm in Sunday Wood Village. According to DOE, copies of the EIA can be perused at the Punta Gorda Town Library, and with the Chairmen of Sunday Wood, Conejo Creek, Barranco Village, Crique Sarco, and Midway villages as well as the office of the Department of the Environment in Belmopan and at the DOE’s website. Earlier today, Greg Ch’oc told News Five why the southern communities were seeking a postponement.


Gregory Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM

“Communities that I am working with expressed concerns that they require some time to understand and appreciate the content of the document that has been given to them by U.S. Capital Energy. Some of them have not even started to read the document and at their request, they instructed me to write a letter in collaboration with the Alcaldes; we agreed on the content of that letter and that was the letter that was sent to the Department of the Environment; requesting that the consultation on the twenty-fifth be postponed to at least a month that will get them enough time to get support to understand the document.”


Jose Sanchez

“When you say understand the document, it is not just the terminology; there is also a language barrier.”


Gregory Ch’oc

“Absolutely. That document has to be interpreted in the language of the people so that they can understand what that document is saying and only then can they say, well you say this and we do this; this is our livelihood. How have you addressed what we do to make our livelihood in the context of let’s say waste disposal for example. So that kind of conversation cannot occur until they are able to understand what is in that document.”


Jose Sanchez
“Is there anything in the document regarding hiring of people in the area, profit sharing if it’s communal lands? Are those topics addressed?”


Gregory Ch’oc

“My perusal of the document, there is absolutely no recognition of the Mayan Land Rights Judgment or the interest of those communities; absolutely not. And that is unfortunate because you would think that the EIA would take that into consideration. We have written the government because they are the entity that is responsible; that has the fiduciary responsibility to the communities to protect and safeguard their rights. Hence the letter to postpone that consultation went directly to the government.”


Jose Sanchez

“If you do not receive a response from the government, will people still attend the consultation?”


Gregory Ch’oc

“You know yesterday at five, I received a response from the Department of the Environment denying the request of the communities and they cite section twenty-two as the rational for not granting the community the request. I will be going to the community today to give that letter to the community because I don’t think that the government has written and sent that document to them.”


According to Cho’c, the Maya communities from Midway, Crique Sarco, Conejo and Barranco are signatories to the letter to DOE.

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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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2 Responses for “SATIIM wants postponement of EIA community meeting; DOE says no”

  1. Bear says:

    Oh, Greg, now you’re sounding foolish. Along with many other, maybe most Belizeans, I support environmental responsibility. But for you to say that Mayan Belizeans cannot understand a report in English at all, and there is no time to translate it is not ringing truthful to me.

    Get serious, get to work, and if there are legitimate issues, raise them when you have the opportunity. Otherwise, go away and be quiet. Leaders rise to the occasion.

  2. Joe Grind says:

    Why do you have to treat the Mayas in any special way. The document is in the official language of this country and besides VERY few of them can read their own language. How many Belizeans can read a “technical document” in creole, or garifuna…even though we speak it everyday.

    This is just an attempt by the environmentalist to abuse the system, any one with good sense can see that.

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