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May 14, 2013

Road fill? N.G.O.s comment on destruction of Noh Mul

The international media, including CNN, the BBC and other major syndicates across the world, are on fire after the destruction of the Noh Mul Archaeological Site in northern Orange Walk. There is widespread outrage, made worse by the knowledge that there is no hope of recovering what has been lost, either in infrastructure, historical value or cultural heritage. The structure has been dated at more than two thousand years, and most of it is now gone, transported in trucks to be used as road-fill. It has been a little late in coming, but the local community and local organizations are now weighing in on the issue, and it’s not pretty. Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The story broke late last week, and the images of the irreparable damageto a two thousand year old Mayan monument have raised a firestorm of wrath and condemnation. Today we got some feedback on the issue, which by all indications is not going away anytime soon.

 

Via Phone: Greg Ch’oc, Concerned Mayan

Greg Ch’oc

“I was extremely shocked that the intangible cultural heritage of the Maya community of Belize and humanity on a hold can deliberately be destroyed in the manner in which I saw on the various media houses that brought this to the attention of the Belizean people. It is reflective of the value placed on our cultural heritage by those who should be safeguarding these very assets that characterize who we are as a people and a society.”

 

Edilberto Romero, Executive Director, APAMO

“APAMO condemns it in the strongest way possible and we also call on the Prime Minister and the Minister responsible for Archeological sites; that they make sure that the people who destroyed this archeological site pay for it; that they ensure that the law is applied to them regardless of the political connections that they might have.”

 

Herbert Haylock, President, B.T.I.A.

“I want to make it very clear that as an organization, we don’t support nor condone that activity and I think that in our position that we put out today in a statement, we want it to be clear that we would like to ensure that the local authorities—both within that particular jurisdiction and nationally—hold whoever is responsible for those actions to the fullest extent of the law.”

 

Haylock says that because of the attack on Noh Mul, the BTIA will have to revisit plans the Orange Walk chapter had for the use of that site to expand the tourism product in the north.

 

Herbert Haylock

Herbert Haylock

“The B.T.I.A. Orange Walk Chapter for example and its membership in that area have been looking strategically at being able to look at that site as well as others in developing the potential for those sites. We understand that it is on private property and we accept that, but in a similar fashion such as the Cuellos Site which is on private property as well, there is significant potential for those sites to be developed—whether through a particular cultural tour or circuit or whatever the case may be. The understanding is that the destruction that’s taken place essential erodes the opportunities that are there for that to happen. And we can no longer look at that option. And I think that the points made by Doctor Awe are very clear that there is no recovery from this particular course of what has taken place and that is damning. That’s really a signal that if we allow that to unfold and not be dealt with in any measured manner that we are sending the wrong signals all over.”

 

And with that said, all are in agreement that there need to be much stiffer penalties to deal with issues like this.

 

Edilberto Romero

Edilberto Romero

“We know that this is an issue that has occurred in the past, it occurred now and will continue to occur if stronger penalties are not put in place.”

 

Herbert Haylock

“You look at some other issues beyond that when you talk about illegal forest activities and other things such as that. And you look at a case like this where again you are talking about a fine that perhaps the perpetrators involved or whoever may be involved might be able to pay that fine and walk away.  It is a slap on the risk and it doesn’t necessarily hurt anybody or create or mitigate a situation from occurring again.”

 

Greg Ch’oc

“I think it is forthwith the minister responsible for cultural heritage needs to amend or bring to the house amendments to the law to impose stiffer penalties so that this kind of action cannot be brought upon those very assets that define us as a society. I want to add here that I think that there is much more that can be done to the parties that destroyed the sacred site in Orange Walk. I want the parties involved to be brought to justice and face the music severely for what they have done. You can’t replace what has been destroyed, but certainly the government needs to send a message to those or anybody that may want a similar or have intent of engaging in these kinds of activities.”

 

The Orange Walk Chapter of the B.T.I.A. also issued a very strongly worded release today condemning the destruction of the site in no uncertain terms. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

Not surprisingly, the name of Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega has been called repeatedly, since Grijalva is a known political affiliate of his and the work Grijalva was doing, for which he needed the road fill and for which he destroyed Noh Mul, was for road works in Orange Walk North. But also not surprising, in a release issued late this evening, Vega completely disassociates himself from Grijalva. The release condemns the destruction, and states, quote, Minister Vega also emphatically repudiates the allegation and or perception that he was involved in any way with the destruction of Noh Mul. Vega throws Grijalva under the proverbial bus, as the release asserts that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture did not issue any permits to mine materials from the Noh Mul Archaeological Site. And Vega calls for a full investigation into the matter, stating that anyone found responsible should be, quote ‘persecuted’ to the full extent of the law. 

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14 Responses for “Road fill? N.G.O.s comment on destruction of Noh Mul”

  1. m.price says:

    The dumb Belize voters will still vote them in, if they do vote them out they will vote in the last thief they voted out, the PUP. Dumb people boy..smh

  2. Storm says:

    Blah, blah, blah. ONLY WORDS!

    Don’t let Grijalva leave the country, put him in steel bracelets TODAY!

    His equipment is evidence of crime, it must be seized, too. If he has been paid for this crime, his bank accounts should be seized. The man must be ruined and locked away as an example to the rest of us.

    And if the material from the site has already been used as roadfill, it must be taken out — nobody should profit from this crime.

    Where are the prosecutors and what are they doing? Where are the police and what are they doing?

  3. george alamilla says:

    This could only happen in Belize.We have so many hills and mountains where quarries can be developed.Well, the Mayan mound was nearby and their earnings would quadrupled.I would like to know how much they were being paid for each load of road fill and who participated in the profits of the Business.That will tell you the whole story.

  4. Richard Wilk says:

    I do not know why anyone is surprised. Uner both UDP and PUP administrations it has been common practice in the north to use Mayan ruins as road fill from at least 1949 when the largest pyramid at Nohmul was demolished. Santa Rita was bulldozed and leveled for 30 years to build corozal town roads. Caledonia was bulldozed in 1985- I have pictures of fresh pottery in the road, and when I complained to my boss at USAID, Fred Hunter the minister of works tried to get me fired and deported. San Estevan, a huge site where 4 different teams of archaeologists have worked, was completely destroyed a few years ago. Probably 20 or 30 other northern belize sites have been demolished over the years, some quite famous. We used to cal PWD the “pyramid wrecking department.” Along with a huge amount of looting for money, the destruction of Belize’s past – including important historical sites like All Pines town, is almost complete.

  5. Carlos says:

    Nothing will come out of this, but if it was a little poor man with a piece of rose wood they would have already dragged him through the courts, what a shame and disgrace. The Bible is fulfilling.

  6. Amazed says:

    This da Belize, bredda. You do what you want! Nobody caan tell you nothing.

  7. Right Living in Belize says:

    SO MUCH OUTRAGE ABOUT A PILE OF ROCKS! LAST WEEK WE WERE DEALING WITH A REAL ISSUE ABOUT THE CHANGING OF OUR LAWS TO PROTECT THE SODOMITES AND THEN TO EXPOSE OUR CHILDREN TO HARM. PEOPLE DID NOT SHOW AS MUCH OUTRAGE AS THEY ARE SHOWING NOW. ITS TRUE THAT THE MAYAN RUINS ARE PART OF OUR HERITAGE, BUT THE CHILDREN AND MORALITY ARE A PART OF OUR FUTURE. THE MAYAS BROUGHT IDOLATRY (WORSHIPPING THE SUN AND STONE GODS THEY MADE) AND MURDER (KILLING YOUNG WOMEN AS SACRIFICE TO THE SAME STONE GODS). I PREFER TO FIGHT FOR THE MORAL ISSUES THAT HAS FAR-REACHING EFFECTS ON THIS COUNTRY THAN TO FIGHT FOR SOME ROCKS THAT WE CAN NOW DO NOTHING ABOUT OTHER THAN TO FURTHER EXPOSE OUR COUNTRY TO MORE INTERNATIONAL CRITISM. TIME TO PRIORITIZE BELIZEANS!

  8. Luis says:

    this dose not surprise me at all, it was just a matter of waiting……so irresponsible from all parties involved…..first the illegal logging then the illegal dredging and now illegal digging…..whos in charge?

    these people are as stupid as stupid can be or what, how did this pastor become a general contractor when he has no education of becoming such when will this stop…..if this guy did this in El Salvador where he is from he would e in JAIL already and his assets frozen in repayment…

    It all begins at the top with the Ministries involved for lack of supervision and control, just pay the permit and go do what you want, What do you think if a contractor was to demolish the some other heritage of any country what would they do, I know Jail and Fines, but in Belize its a matter who you pay off and kiss @$$ for a slap on the wrist….

    This is Crazy….and sad…..

  9. Initiate says:

    Many Belizeans are outraged, but I bet many more are surprised that there is an outrage.
    I guess a learning experience for most

  10. Neville says:

    @Right Living in Belize — do you believe we can only have one or the other [morality or cultural heritage] but not both at the same time?

    Sodomy is wrong and criminal, and it’s right to fight it. Destruction of Mayan mounds is wrong and criminal, and it;s right to fight it.

    For that matter, government corruption is wrong and criminal, and it’s right to fight that, too.

    Can’t we fight for all the right things, must we limit ourselves only to one?

  11. Eye in the Sky says:

    Belize and Belizeans will just continue destroying the country until we are like Haiti or Somalia.

    We are already half way there.

  12. Eye in the Sky says:

    Belize Politicians and Belizean people will just continue destroying the country until we are like Haiti or Somalia.

    We are already half way there.

  13. Neanderthalensis says:

    Well said, Right Living! We have allowed interest in history and anthropology devolve into an ethno-cultural obsession that translates into a virtual idolization of ancient Mayan cultural expressions, regardless of their intrinsic moral worth. While the pyramid in question might not have been “a pile of rocks”, as you colourfully put it – for effect, I presume :) – you are quite right in your (implied) contention that the ancient Mayan religion is incompatible with Christian morality. Moreover, I aver that the world – and Belize, for that matter – is no worse off for having less monuments to idolatry that are a lingering affront to the Eternal and Supreme God whom we serve. Whatever the case, none of these temples to idols, be they Mayan, Babylonian, Roman, Chinese, or what-have-you, will survive the Second Coming of our triumphant King. So let us not, as a Christian nation in these latter days, grieve overmuch the loss of one or two of these pagan, finite structures.

  14. david says:

    Respect for cultural heritage is not in any way an affirmation of the religion of the ancient Mayans. It is instead a huge favor to the world to understand how men lived, including their religions of the past, a time when they had no opportunity to know anything about Christianity (ever wonder why?) through no fault of their own. I have traveled as a tourist to see Mayan ruins in Mexico and am planning to travel to see more in other central American countries. This display of ignorance and underestimation or failure to comprehend what has been lost by this destruction ensures that I will probably skip Belize. And I am one of many from around the world that will feel the same.

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