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Jul 24, 2013

SATIIM not allowed to co-manage national park

Another hot-button issue involves court action by SATIIM and Maya Alcaldes against U.S. Capital Energy and the Government of Belize. This issue is the oil exploration which is already underway within the boundaries of the Sarstoon Temash National Park, as well as an access road to the drill site more than four miles long and forty feet wide. The action was filed on Monday and publicly announced on Tuesday at a press conference in Punta Gorda. But while the lawsuit is one thing, another issue looms on the horizon. SATIIM has been officially banned from the National Park and as far as the government is concerned, the co-management agreement does not exist, in theory or in black and white. Mike Rudon has an update on the story which was aired on Tuesday.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

SATIIM Executive Director Greg Choc and these Alcaldes from Crique Sarco, Conejo, Midway and Graham Creek have filed suit against US Capital Energy and GOB for works being done by the oil company within the national park. One of the defendants in that lawsuit is Attorney General Wilfred Elrington.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Attorney-General

“I don’t know the details of it. My own recollection is that I had been involved in one of the cases and the judge’s decision was that the Mayans have communal rights over the land. Now what are communal rights over the land? My thinking was they have rights to use it, to earn their living; they do hunting, fishing and that kinds of things. I don’t know what else communal rights entail, but it certainly in my view does not stop the government and other people from using the land. It is not as if the court said you have free-hold title to this land and it belongs to you absolutely. That’s a different case.”

 

Whether it’s a different case or not will ultimately be decided by the courts, but even before that gets started there is another looming issue. SATIIM has been kicked to the curb by the Forest Department. The official co-management agreement between SATIIM and the Forest Department expired in 2009, and since then the N.G.O. says it has been managing the park based on a verbal agreement with Prime Minister Dean Barrow. But with the oil issue taking center stage and both parties unable to come to terms for a new co-management agreement, the Forest Department has taken off the velvet gloves. In this letter to SATIIM dated July seventeenth, 2013, the Forest Department formally terminates its working relationship with SATIIM as it relates to the management of the Sarstoon Temash National Park effective immediately. In fact, SATIIM has even been denied, at least in writing, access to the national park. So will that have a bearing on the lawsuit?

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Claimants

Eamon Courtenay

“That does not affect the lawsuit against the defendants which includes U.S. Capital and the government of Belize. SATIIM represents indigenous people to start with and it also has a right to manage the national park. I think it is important for us to remember that the primary basis of the challenge is that under the national park system act; there is no provision for commercial drilling for oil within a national park. I mean it is oxymoron for you to have a national park and at the same time tell someone that they can go and drill for oil in it. So that is a legal challenge. Secondly, it is important to remember that in addition to SATIIM, there are four villages, indigenous villages from the Maya villages who are bringing the lawsuit. So despite what view the government takes with respect to SATIIM, the case will continue by those four villages.”

 

Those four villages, with SATIIM along or not, will have a fight on their hands since G.O.B. is insistent that communal rights or not, national park or not, the government has the final say one way or the other and while progress brings problems, progress it must.

 

Eamon Courtney

“There are two judgments of the supreme court of Belize which states specifically that the owners of that land are the Maya indigenous people under communal title. So the government I believe will have to at some point in time rationalize the legal position and who has the final say in terms of the exploitation, exploration, development of that land. Suffice it to say that at this stage, it is our view that the indigenous people who have had the ownership and control of this land for centuries are the persons who need to be consulted and whose permission and approval needs to be got. Chief Justice Conteh said that from 2007.”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“So the fact that you may have rights over land does not allow you or empower you to stop anybody from doing anything on the land particularly the government which owns the subsoil.”

 

Mike Rudon

“And this applies even within a national park which is part of their claim?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“This applies all over the world and wherever it is. A national park is designated by government as a national park. The government can at any time denationalize that park in a sense that they say we are no longer going to consider this part of our property as national park. That is  done in countries all over the world as the population expands and the need for the land becomes greater; government has to do that. So it is nothing sacrosanct. The important thing is that the resources of the country are there for the people of the country.”

 

While SATIIM has effectively been kicked out of the Sarstoon Temash national park by the Forest Department, there is no word on who will now manage and monitor the affairs of the park. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

Minister of Forestry, Lisel Alamilla, will be holding a press conference this Thursday to discuss the co-management agreements in national parks. 

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11 Responses for “SATIIM not allowed to co-manage national park”

  1. buy your way to heaven, it is too hard otherwise says:

    and these fools thought they could manage anything UPD owns?

    they don’t get it!!!
    UDP owns them, and the country.
    my bling is a tower on a diamond neckless; gets me out of hit and runs, sex with sheep and politician’s wives and their mamas. Suck it up.
    The wealthy must be wealthy.

  2. belizean says:

    Does the Government have any respect for the indeginous people of our country? how in Gods name will you block them from their own park!!!! Lislie Alamilla has turned on the people of her constituency!!!! It’s all about money and not the long term effect on the environment, the Belize Government along with it’s allies want to diminish the ethnic population in the South like what the Americans did with the Native American Indians.

  3. Johnny Cash says:

    Belizean, Liselle has no constituency. She was a Senator then appointed Minister.

  4. silvano says:

    SO GOVT CAN DE-NATIONALIZE ANY RESERVE,BUT IT HAS NOT DONE IT YET,DEAN BAROW AND VEGA ARE STUPID AND CORRUPT,MEIN REALLLY SAD wats going on.lissel is not an elected representative of the people she is a puppet of dean barow and the UDP.ok and dean barow no care for the people,maya cane farmers,poor people,only the rich and cronies he care for and $$$$$$$$$$$$.thats the reality.

  5. zetina says:

    SO GOVT CAN DE-NATIONALIZE ANY RESERVE,BUT IT HAS NOT DONE IT YET,DEAN BAROW AND VEGA ARE STUPID AND CORRUPT,MEIN REALLLY SAD wats going on.lissel is not an elected representative of the people she is a puppet of dean barow and the UDP.ok and dean barow no care for the people,maya cane farmers,poor people,only the rich and cronies he care for and $$$$$$$$$$$$.thats the reality.

  6. dalmer says:

    SO GOVT CAN DE-NATIONALIZE ANY RESERVE,BUT IT HAS NOT DONE IT YET,DEAN BAROW AND VEGA ARE STUPID AND CORRUPT,MEIN REALLLY SAD wats going on.lissel is not an elected representative of the people she is a puppet of dean barow and the UDP.ok and dean barow no care for the people,maya cane farmers,poor people,only the rich and cronies he care for and $$$$$$$$$$$$.thats the reality.

  7. abraham says:

    SO GOVT CAN DE-NATIONALIZE ANY RESERVE,BUT IT HAS NOT DONE IT YET,DEAN BAROW AND VEGA ARE STUPID AND CORRUPT,MEIN REALLLY SAD wats going on.lissel is not an elected representative of the people she is a puppet of dean barow and the UDP.ok and dean barow no care for the people,maya cane farmers,poor people,only the rich and cronies he care for and $$$$$$$$$$$$.thats the reality.

  8. carol says:

    SO GOVT CAN DE-NATIONALIZE ANY RESERVE,BUT IT HAS NOT DONE IT YET,DEAN BAROW AND VEGA ARE STUPID AND CORRUPT,MEIN REALLLY SAD wats going on.lissel is not an elected representative of the people she is a puppet of dean barow and the UDP.ok and dean barow no care for the people,maya cane farmers,poor people,only the rich and cronies he care for and $$$$$$$$$$$$.thats the reality.

  9. ranier says:

    SO GOVT CAN DE-NATIONALIZE ANY RESERVE,BUT IT HAS NOT DONE IT YET,DEAN BAROW AND VEGA ARE STUPID AND CORRUPT,MEIN REALLLY SAD wats going on.lissel is not an elected representative of the people she is a puppet of dean barow and the UDP.ok and dean barow no care for the people,maya cane farmers,poor people,only the rich and cronies he care for and $$$$$$$$$$$$.thats the reality.

  10. PG says:

    @belizean — Note to you– the land is for all of us who are born in Belize. Dont get it twisted!!!!

    In accordance with the constitution the Gov controls the land. I should be able to live there if i want but i cant because the Mayas wont allow me to live there!!!!!! But they can live anywhere in this country without a problem!!!!

    That is madness!!!!!!!!! In closing — the Mayas have been violating the constitutional rights of all the people living in PG. They are allowed to live in the town but we cannot live in there villages!!!

    That is a violation of my constitutional rights!!!!!!! We are all BELIZEANS!!!! They are not better than us we are not better than them!!!!

    Their rights to have land should not infringe on my right to live where i want in this country!!! Or to own land anywhere i want in this country!!!!!

  11. PG says:

    @belizean — Note — the land is not theirs — all national land is owned by the GOB. It should not be that at this time we would try to separate the country by Ethnicity!!!!

    Just as they (the Mayas) are allowed to live in PG and Belize City– Dangriga or where ever in the country they want to live. I should be allowed to live in their villages as well. We are all Belizeans.

    As a matter of fact- they (the Mayas) have be violating the rights of our PG people for years as they have not allowed any of us (Garifuna or Creole) to own land in their villages but they have owned land within the Town (PG) and other towns in this country.

    We can bring a Law Suit on them for that!!! How can the Unions, Krem, Ass for Concern Belizean, Mr. Will Mehia and the media allow them to separate this country in that fashion!!!!

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