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Nov 14, 2012

Alcalde Association not impressed with measures to ease tensions over oil exploration in the south

The government and Maya communities have been at odds over oil drilling and exploration in communal lands in southern Belize. In June 2010 Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh declared that thirty-three Maya communities had customary land tenure in their villages. That should have settled the perennial problem, but despite the court declaration, not much has changed and the Maya Leaders’ Alliance is now fighting the government over an oil exploration license; it is contemplating going back to court. This morning, the Prime Minister was asked about the recent debacle; he said that a trust will be established for development in the area.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“In terms of wanting to their wanting to stop the drilling; look I have indicated, and I have asked Minister Alamilla to convey this to them, that we are prepared to use the working interest share of the oil revenue—if there were to be a discovery in Toledo—to fund a trust in which the community leaders will have equal representation with government and the trust monies will then finance community development projects for the Toledo District. So it is perhaps going to be troubling to some people that we are actually preparing to earmark a share of oil revenues coming from that district for that district. The people in Blue Creek or the people in Spanish Lookout might say why not us, but we think they are peculiar circumstance in Toledo. So a seat at the table for us to work out the details of the trust; how it will be composed and how it will function; absolutely. Giving this dedicated revenue stream to the Toledo District, absolutely; but if they want to go to court to stop the drilling then there will be no money; there will be no proceeds to share. The moment that sort of an action is launch then there is no basis on which to continue to talk to them or on which to talk to them about how we will share the revenue with them. If you are going to stop the process, there is no revenue to share and there is no point in talking.”


Within hours, the Toledo Alcalde’s Association issued a release responding to three issues raised by the PM. Essentially, they object to Minister Lisel Alamilla being designated as the government’s contact person for the community representatives. Despite Alamilla’s history with Ya’axche Conservation Trust in Toledo, the TAA says many of the Alcaldes do not know her and she has not been communicating with them. Secondly, the association says that the two percent working interest that is to be set aside in a trust was decided upon without their knowledge and they want more details on what it all means. And in response to the prime minister’s comment that if the Mayas go to court, all bets are off; the TAA says they have only considered the legal route because they feel it is the only way to protect their rights and that the government gives them no choice.

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8 Responses for “Alcalde Association not impressed with measures to ease tensions over oil exploration in the south”

  1. Lucas says:

    In the USA, a profesional licensed or certified to work in one State cannot work in another State with the same license unless, certified or licensed by the other State. This same policy is jealousy applied to foreign professionals. In Belize, I hear of foreign Lawyers being brought into the country to litigate cases in our courts. The Govt. should pass a law that any foreign profesional who wants to practise in the country must first be certified in Belize. I know that this already applies to medical doctors from far back and it is high time it also applies to lawyers. I say this because interest groups backed by foreign interest like to follow this practice. In this instance our Maya brethern. I agree that we must not trust which ever GOB is in place; that we should protect our environment, that we should fight for a better share of the wealth which is our just right but I would love if the Mayas, myself being a Maya, would drop that nonsense that this is our land. MAN; THE LAND IN QUESTION DO NOT BELONG TO US MAYAS; IT BELONG TO ALL A WE BELIZEANS. While we were born in Belize, let stop denying that our ancestors came from Guatemala. Have we forgotten that at the turn of the century, the Guatemalan Govt. under Portillo said it had the right TO DEFEND THE MAYAS OF TOLEDO BECAUSE THEY CONSIDERED US GUATEMALANS?. It breaks my heart to see Lisa Shoeman, who instead of fighting to unite us, driving a wedge between us Belizeans. My fellow Mayas, stop listening to Greg Ch’oc. and give Minister Alamilla a chance. As a Maya, I trust her.

  2. antonio solis says:

    We are one people. Lets sit and talk and shelf this threat of going to court. We need development and our brothers need jobs. Its time to talk, my people and government.

  3. Concerned Maya says:

    @ Lucas, you are a shame. It’s a shame for you to call us your brethens as you have settled. As a Maya people you have been marginalized for generations, it’s time for us to speak and stand up. 2% is a pittance compared to what the gov’t and the oil companies gain. I’m not saying “no” to development but there is no consultation. What happened the other day is an orchestrated circus. Wake up Lucas and stop settling.

  4. Belizean says:

    I fully support Lucas. Nobody can just “OWN” land. There are legal ways to deal with stuff, like everybody else does. What kind of favoritism are they trying to acquire? They are as anti-development as can be!!! Be on the good side of the GOB and they will treat you right!! This is a natural law, its just the way it works.

  5. Stupefied says:

    Belizean – if you are non the wrong side of the GOB they will treat you wrong? Natural law? What does that mean? Please go read a book and educate yourself and stop uttering nonsense.

  6. Belizean says:

    Sounds like youre stupefied!! Can you read? THAT IS WHAT I SAID!!!! If I have to spoon feed it to you: Instead of balking at every move the GOB makes, work along with them first, and then you will have more say than just being LIKE YOU ARE NOW!!!!!!!!

  7. Seletar says:

    1. Barrow inviting the MLA’s leaders to “sit at the table” and share in a “trust” [what an ironic word in this situation!] of oil revenues is nothing more than a bribe offered to them, 30 pieces of silver to sell out the people they represent and whatever principles they have. He assumes everyone has a price.

    2. Nobody can “OWN” land? Gapi Vega and his family can. It’s true that there are different ways of looking at ownership / control / stewardship of property, such as communalism versus private property. But most of the world in this millennium recognizes private property rights. I prefer it this way, although I own little enough.

  8. David Brown says:

    The PM inter mated there was. An oil find in Blue Creek. Is that true? Does anyone know more about that? Regards, David.

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