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Sep 3, 2013

Residents of Buffer Communities Near Sarstoon-Temash National Park Agree to Legal Representation By SATIIM Lawyers

As we reported on Monday, a team of journalists and videographers from various media houses was given an exclusive tour of the Sarstoon-Temash National Park over the weekend.  The purpose of the visit was to experience firsthand ongoing exploratory work conducted by U.S. Capital Energy in the vicinity of the protected area.  The two-day trip also saw the delegation traveling to buffer communities which encircle the reserve.  Of those five villages, namely: Conejo, Midway, Crique Sarco, Barranco and Graham Creek, the group called on all but the latter.  During the brief stay they were able to confirm the position of the communities on oil drilling in the area. The buffer communities have adopted eight resolutions. One approved by residents of Graham Creek, signed by First Village Alcalde Alberto Coc, affirms their consent to have the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) and its lawyers represent them legally and take all necessary procedures to protect and defend their collective and customary land titles.

 

Greg Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM

Greg Ch'oc

“SATIIM is in a battle for the rights and dignity of these communities.  We know we are fighting money, capitalism at its best, the legacy of capitalism is well known globally.  We’ve heard of massacre, ethnocide, executions and disappearance.  These, based on our experience, might be farfetched but the experiences over the last couple of days as we have said in our last press release it’s not too far.  It could be coming.  These are the facts.  It is also a fact that governments spare no resources to protect the interest of big oil.  The Government of Belize, by their actions on Friday, and even today, continues to demonstrate that this is the case in Belize.  Additionally, they will use every tool to justify their actions as evidenced by the recent press release from the Government of Belize in responding to our press release, where they claim to be rightly interpreting the ruling of the Court of Appeal and our interpretation as being wrong.  There is no surprise in what the government has said, as the government needs to protect and defend the interest of the oil companies.  I ask the government to examine itself and tell the Belizean people how is it a good deal for Belizeans to give oil companies ninety-five cents from every dollar that is earned from oil.  How can we say that this arrangement is going to alleviate poverty and put money in the coffer of government?  How will this alleviate chronic poverty in our communities?  They continue to hide behind these bad and oppressive laws.  If there was any decency in Belmopan these laws would be replaced with those that protect and defend the interest of the Belizean people.  So, in the wider scheme of things we are in the battle for our survival, the communities’ survival and our dignity as a people.”

 

The Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology has accused SATIIM of wrongfully interpreting a court ruling and that the Government is not engaging in illegal activities on Maya customary land, as it concerns the issuance of oil concessions and accompanying permits in southern Belize.

 

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