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Aug 26, 2013

SATIIM and Maya Leaders risk going into the Temash without authorization

In the south…On Friday morning, a mission comprised of park rangers employed by the Sarstoon and Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), as well as community leaders from several Maya villages was involved in a brief standoff with Punta Gorda police prior to departing for the Sarstoon Temash National Park.  The incident during which a pair of officers demanded identification from each of the men, before attempting to search their vessel, occurred at the foot of the Joe Taylor Bridge, where the team was preparing to embark on a journey up the Sarstoon and Temash rivers.  Later that day, the delegation successfully arrived at Temash Two, the site where a drill pad is currently under construction by US Capital Energy.  Despite their arrival by boat, the men were unwanted guests and were greeted by members of the Belize Police Department, who informed them that they were intruding on the worksite.  However, upon the consent of Dr. Michael Tewes who is responsible for Health, Safety & Environment, a few of the alcaldes were led on a tour of the compound.  This afternoon, Alistair King, US Capital’s country representative, told News Five that the visit, albeit unauthorized, was informative.

 

Alistair King

Alistair King, Country Representative, US Capital Energy

“The leader, the executive director for SATIIM, Mr. Greg Choc had said that regardless that the government had taken away the co-management contract they would still be going into the park to do their inspections and so on.  So, this alarmed us a bit because we, anybody that goes in there, at least to our site, needs to have the proper instructions and we don’t let anybody just go in.  We have to take them in and they have to do that through the office in PG or through the government in Belmopan.  So that set off some bells for us and then the police also informed us that they had heard through their own sources that these people were going to go in.  So, to avoid any complications and bad scenes and so at the site, we went in, the police went in with them and they didn’t come in through the main entrance, they came up the Temash River and walked in.  It’s about a thousand feet between the river and the site which is swampy.  They walked in in the swamp and of course when they got there everybody was there waiting on them.  The police department told them they were there illegally, this was an illegal entry and so they said well it was their land and they would come in.  The police then explained that no it wasn’t, they weren’t allowed in under the rules of the Forest Department and so on.  So, but our guy Dr. Mike Tewes, our environmental guy he said okay, with the permission of the police he was willing to show the alcades around.  There were three or four alcaldes from a group of fifteen people.  The police said okay since they’re here let’s show them around so we showed them around the location and they were satisfied with that and then we offered to take them all out through the road entrance so they didn’t have to walk back through the swamp but they said no, they’d go back by boat and so that was it.  There was no confrontation, everybody was cordial.  There was a couple of louder guys, the rest of them were very cordial.  Andres Bo, the alcalde from Crique Sarco, was sort of the lead guy.”

 

Late this evening, SATIIM issued a release condemning what it considers the continued use of armed police and B.D.F. personnel in an effort to threaten the community leaders of the surrounding villages.  Both SATIIM and the Maya communities argue that the Government of Belize as well as US Capital are engaged in illegal activities on Maya customary titled lands.

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1 Response for “SATIIM and Maya Leaders risk going into the Temash without authorization”

  1. PM says:

    Eff Greg Cho. Lets drill.

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