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Oct 29, 2012

MLA betrayed by one of its own; environmentalists support Maya Leaders

For years the discontent has been evident among the growers regarding the management of an industry in which they feel powerless as owners of a product. The sentiment is also shared in the south of the country where the Mayas feel their authority as owners of communal land is being disrespected. Their discontent grows from the US Capital Energy, Exploratory Environmental Impact Assessment public consultation that was held in Sundaywood Village last Thursday.  A boost of support for the Maya Leaders Alliance (MLA) and the Toledo’s Alcalde Association (TAA) has been sent from the consortium of environmentalists called the Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage. The coalition has sent a release condemning the conduct of Department of the Environment at the consultation. It particularly points fingers at Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria.  Alegria, according to the press release, “conducted himself in a manner that the Coalition considers to be clear attempts to stifle the voice of the public whenever they rose to present a position seemingly adverse to the US Capital Exploratory Drilling EIA.” The coalition goes on to chide Alegria, who with the help of the chair of Sundaywood Village physically wrestled the microphone from Greg Ch’oc who was speaking on behalf of four communities. A public consultation in the Environmental Protection Act is defined as a two-way flow of information.   Since that didn’t happen in its view, the Coalition calls for a second consultation to be held, and points out that many of the villages do not have electricity or internet to read the online version of the EIA.  This afternoon News Five spoke to the President of the Toledo Alcaldes Association and the spokesperson for the Maya Leaders Alliance about the meeting. They were quick to distance themselves from Ligorio Coy, now former MLA chairman, who it appears, betrayed both the MLA and the TAA at the consultation.

 

Via Phone: Alfonso Cal, President TAA

“The better way is that we need to sit down together; they were carrying their own way. Doing things by themselves, not even telling us if they have given the license to U.S Capital.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“The parting of ways of the Mayan Leaders Alliance and Mister Ligorio Coy; some people would say that the alliance is fractured. Is it?”

 

Via Phone: Alfonso Cal

“Yes he was the chairman of the M.L.A., but now he has left the M.L.A.—not telling us—because the Toledo Alcalde Association and the Mayan Leaders Alliance are working together. But since he just gone by himself and not telling us his position—he just left on his own—but he is just one person, you know. This is not the position of the Alcalde Association and other Alcaldes in the community.”

 

Via Phone: Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, M.L.A.

“It’s important for us to clarify that this was an individual choice; this was a personal decision on the part of Mister Coy. He did not make this decision as the Chairman of the Mayan Leaders Alliance and this is not position of Mayan Leaders Alliance. We stand firm in saying that we feel that any third party, any development company, needs to engage us along with the state as land owners before we can even begin to talk about anything regarding this development project. We feel that that has been the position of the Mayan Leaders Alliance continues to be the position. It is a very sad day that we’ve lost one of our own, but we recognize that under the pressures of economic instabilities of Mayan communities and Mayan people, we realize that the pressures can be immense. We don’t condone anything that Mister Coy did, but we also feel that we realize that this is a big part of a bigger strategy on the part of the state and the company to divide and conquer our people.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“During that Thursday meeting in Sundaywood Mister Ch’oc was speaking on behalf of four villages. Now U.S. Capital Energy is saying what we saw on the tape was only a few minutes of what happened. They said that that did not represent the overall mood of the meeting. Is that true or not?”

 

Via Phone: Cristina Coc

“That did not represent the overall mood of the meeting; that is very true. The overall mood of the meeting was that it was very controlled; it was carefully planned on the part of the company. We had asked time and time again if transportation would be made available for the leaders to attend this consultations; to be able to at the very minimum listen to the presentation. And we were told no—a resounding no from the company. However, the company still went ahead and bused in people from almost every village, but the people that they bused in were select people—it was very obvious. And those who spoke for the company were the ones given the time to speak—not the people that were raising the real concerns and the real questions and the real issues, regardless of what their position were. Those questions were not entertained. For instance we heard people go up and say, we are for the company; we want jobs. But nobody was entertaining the questions of how many jobs are you offering? What kind of jobs? What kind of capacity do we require to have? So essentially, this company had staged this consultation and for us this is inadequate.”

 

The MLA maintains that the fight is with the government of Belize since they are not accepting the communal land rights decision.

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16 Responses for “MLA betrayed by one of its own; environmentalists support Maya Leaders”

  1. Storm says:

    Government processes that are empty or shams are just a disguise for tyranny. I don’t want that in the Jewel, do you?

    When natural resources are taken away, they may be gone forever, What is the rush to do that? [Of course, corrupt leaders are always in a rush to steal as much as possible before they must leave office one way or another, but I'm sure that has no application to our leaders.] Belize needs to take the time for every stakeholder to have a fair hearing, and there needs to be 100% TAtransparency and ACCOUNTABILITY in how ANY decision is reached.

    There are quite a few international organizations for rights of indigenous people — the Maya are not in a boat all alone, many nations have similar issues. I suggest that people who want to defend indigenous rights effectively reach out to one or more of these organizations. Here is a link to one place where a list of these groups can be found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_indigenous_rights_organizations#International

    Off the top of my head, the Rainforest Foundation in either UK or US looks like a good place to start. Maybe they can provide useful information, guidance, and support, so things can be done better here.

  2. Rod says:

    March my Mayan people don’t let this thieving pm and gov. Trample your rights march to his house and demand his resignation for impotence incompetence and treason he needs to be in jail march to the pm house resign judas barrow resign.

  3. issues says:

    You should take a look at the documentary crude. It will show you exactly how big oil company’s deal with Mayan people.

  4. Belizean says:

    Oh come on!!! Every time some positive development begins, somebody has to scream and holler and drag things down. The only way Belize will move forward is with this kind of development. STOP THIS STUPIDITY people!!!!!!

  5. Young Gial says:

    Moving forward doesn’t have to destroy the lively hood of an almost lost culture. As a Belizean you would want that we maintain as much of our cultures as possible, before loosing it to the private sector who is only concerned about raping this country for their own personal gain. Once all the oil is gone, all the gold is gone, what is left for Belizeans? Here is why we need to stand united with our fellow Maya community and protect the greater part of our country’s asset. Water, land, air, and our people’s culture and religious practices. Once we allow foreigners, private sector, secularism and politics to destroy what is most valuable, we risk loosing what other nations wish they had. Why do we have tourism and immigrants and retirees? Well, because we have religion, culture, land, and respect; that is until we loose it all. Just food for thought, don’t loose the respect to religion, culture and nature. Peace and God bless.

  6. melinda bejerano says:

    Politics will always get in the way of developemnt in our country. The two Cocs only want power as could be seen when they submitted their names to Barrow to be appointed ministers. There is no precedent for Communal lands in Belize. Conteh was not in his right mind when he ruled on that. Even the PUP knows that communal land died in the 18 century and all lands became crown lands. People can own land as individuals or organizations but now anonymously as communal. Thats foolishness and please get politics out of the way of development. As to the jackass Storm up there, go shine Musa shoes.

  7. Ricky Malthus says:

    @Melinda : First you are a paid gunslinger for Barrow to attack anyone personally to discredit their ideas( against Barrow). The idea of crown lands originated to steal lands from the indigeneous people in the name of the Crown in British imperialism, colonialism, and racism. England did this successfully in the Americas, Australia, and Africa and the Orient. The Mayans and other native peoples from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego will always own their God-given lands. You will agree if you know your origins. The real problems Belize has to reckon with are : 1) Official CORRUPTION, and 2) the inability of the politicians to optimize the allocation of resources. I hope you and others can understand the ramifications of that statement.

  8. Young Gial says:

    Excuse me jackass melinda, as it takes one to know one. But communal lands have not died, let us educate ourselves a bit. Private land ownership is a western concept and we inherited that from colonialism. We are not colonized anymore, so we can have different types of land ownership. Communal Land ownership is practiced in places such as Africa, Mexico and North America in order to prevent exploitation (of tribal livelyhood) resulting from private ownership of land. It also controls to some extend the rapid industrialization and overall development in a country. Which would be wise of Belize to do, otherwise we make the same mistakes of other overdeveloped nations that have destroyed their forest, aquatic environments, and culture. Various religious communities have also abolished private ownership of land and collectivized it, such as the Mennonite communities. Hence, why they have been so productive in agriculture. Physical and/or psychological coercion and pressure plays a huge role in achieving this kind of land ownership, but it has not died my friend. However, with people who think they way you do, it just might die in Belize…. I pray it does not.

  9. Young Gial says:

    Rightly said Ricky…correction in my last line: – coercion and pressure plays a huge role in preventing the achievement of communal land ownership. I believe our fellow belizeans need to educate themsleves a bit more before making ignorant and uneducated comments eh…

  10. Belizean says:

    Mennonites BOUGHT the land from the GOB @ YOUNG GIAL….It is under ONE title, and they are buying and selling it to each other!!!!!!!! The Maya believe they can just ACQUIRE it!! NO buying involved. Everybody else has to buy land. How can they evade that?

  11. StandupBelize says:

    People, this is not only about the Mayans, this is about BELIZE aslo & it is so sad to see the Mayan bashing and discrimination going on here. We should be one to unite and decide what is best for our country & not what the “big oil companies” call.
    But when it comes to tourism promotion yes we have MAYAN RUINS on the front pages, yes we did sell passports with the name of the Mayans used. But yet our government fails to realize the cries of these very same people. Believe me this oil exploration will not bring any development to Toledo. What has BNE and its exploratiions contributed to our Belize? How many of their profits are geared towards Development in Belize? Where are the stats? How has Belize changed since began drillig?

  12. Storm says:

    @Melinda, I’m familiar with “Shine Barrow” our international cultural ambassador. I haven’t heard of “Shine Musa” until now. Thanks for keeping me current.

  13. Young Gial says:

    @ wanabe Belizean, go find the definition of communal land. Then take a spin and come back again. Furthermore, mennonites are not from Belize much less this part of the world, so I am glad that atleast they paid something, if that is even true. The Maya were living and tiling these lands way before mennonites, colonialism and independence, hence why should they have to buy it??? This is unreasonable and a rediculous argument on your behalf. Why do the Maya have to aquire something that belongs to them? How do you tell a community who’s ancestors built temples and gave us a history way before you were even born, that the land of their father’s is not theirs. There is a time, like in this time, when western rule can kiss my butt and that is what it is to be a Belizean. When you can stand up for what is just. Here is when a true Belizean can stand united with fellow Belizeans who at least still have a strand of identity and culture left. Put yourself in their shoe and put aside the ego and the nepotism “Belizean” and do what is right in your heart, if you have one.

  14. Belizean says:

    @Young Gial…Eventually you will have to leave the country. There is no other way..The “FREE” land that is there now will not be there forever, considering that there are babies born everyday!!! So, where will you go if somebody can just “HAVE” land as much as they want? I understand that rich heritage and all that history, I love to read it. Oh, in this case Poland is MINE!!!!!!!!

  15. Maya says:

    Young Gial well said. it amazes me how uneducated some of my Belizeans are. What is going on with the education system when one of our own kind don’t even know the history of the land we live in. Mayans were always and will always be in BZ. Ignorance is no excuse please pick up a book or search the internet and educate yourself about our heritage. Know what native indians are and please try to preserve our history. Why is it that a foreigner has to come to our country BZ and protect our culture, wildlife, and natural resources. Have some backbone and speak up. We have to stop allowing pple to come and take whats ours and leave jack %#$@ for the pple of BZ.

  16. Young Gial says:

    @fake Belizean, go to Jeriko for all we care. You are totally misunderstanding and misrepresenting my statement. Anyway, go figure cuz you di tiad mi mind :-b

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