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Apr 11, 2014

Government approves extension to US Capital Energy despite court ruling

Tensions are reaching a feverish pitch tonight between Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, U.S. Capital Energy and government. On April third, Justice Michelle Arana handed down a major decision in favor of SATIIM as well as five Mayan communities bordering the Sarstoon-Temash National Park, in a suit brought against the Government of Belize and U.S. Capital Energy.  SATIIM successfully argued that government should have first sought the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous community before granting permits for exploratory work, including oil drilling, on Mayan communal lands.  That judgment, nonetheless, has been interpreted differently by all parties involved in the suit.  While Justice Arana did not quash the existing permit awarded to U.S. Capital, SATIIM contends that when the license expires at the end of April the oil company would have to consult with the buffer communities before applying for a renewal.  On the other hand, U.S. Capital, based on its interpretation of the ruling, maintains that it will proceed with exploratory activities within the national park.  This evening, News Five confirmed that government is approving the extension of U.S. Capital’s permit to continue works inside the protected area.  In fact, in his capacity as Attorney General, Minister Wilfred Elrington provided legal counsel on the matter, advising that the recent judgment does not apply to an existing permit; more specifically, U.S. Capital’s concession to drill for oil within the Sarstoon-Temash National Park.  The decision by government to renew the contract without consulting with the indigenous community has raised the ire of SATIIM which says that it will take all necessary actions to thwart U.S. Capital’s efforts.  We begin with the attorney general’s position.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Attorney General

“I don’t think the extension is a contentious matter.  I read the judgment of Madame Justice Arana, her judgment was very clear and it was evident to me that she had given very careful thought to the matter.  The crux of the matter was that the Maya [Leaders] Alliance and SATIIM were suggesting that because the administrator had granted the licenses without prior consultation with the Mayas, the licenses were defective.  She agreed to that point but she said that notwithstanding the fact that the licenses were defective, in fact, the administrator had the authority to do it the only defect was in the procedure, it was not done in the manner contemplated by the judgments that had gone before in relation to this matter.  And so, she said deliberately that she would not determine that they should not be proceeded with they are going to remain alive because she understands very clearly the importance of in fact the petroleum industry to Belize, what it would mean if in fact we can find substantial oil and she also appreciates the fact that an inordinate amount of money has been spent in the process.  I am told that it is in excess of twenty million dollars.  So she deliberately decided that she would not stop it midstream but she said in effect, as far as I understand the judgment, that any further licenses that is requested must be complied, must be granted only after compliance with the procedure as articulated by earlier decisions, which means that if there is a new application for a license then it has to be granted only after consultation with SATIIM and the other parties that are involved.  So I don’t see personally, I don’t think from the spirit of the decision, when you read it as a whole and the issues that she considers, as well as what she actually said, there is nothing to have prevented an extension of a current, live license.  The license at this point in time is current, it is live.  She could have shut it down at that point but she said no, I’m not going to do that because they have already spent so much money and this industry means so much to Belize.”

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10 Responses for “Government approves extension to US Capital Energy despite court ruling”

  1. punkgial says:

    Not for the Belizean people but the industry means so much for the politicians because all the money the oil company gives the GOB they share between all the politicians.

  2. Ali BaBarrow, the god of 40 says:

    the courts should bow to Ali.

    Ali is Belize, Ali is justice, Ali is the law, Ali is supreme authority.

    Who cares what the courts say?
    He may send a constitutional amendment to disband them along with Bar Association of Belize.

  3. Rod says:

    Wilfred you need to resign your post you are a disgrace to this country .

  4. Pelican says:

    Greg Choc knows this fully well but opted to play the fool. This is a dangerous approach Greg. You don’t want to start shot in our beloved country.

  5. melinda says:

    Lets be practical. No matter which government is in office, belize needs another oil find. No matter which GOB, we need to understand that we cannot slpit our country into indigenous groups and separate laws. WE are one country and no belizean is special and distinct above the other. I am wanting to think change but will never think of dividing our country into groups with different cultures and rights under our Price/Goldson constitution.

  6. Navidad A says:

    @melinda, I rather disagree.
    This land was Mayan territory before colonisation, before Price, before Goldson. They *should* have greater autonomy, and their rights protected and upheld by our government.
    What a blatant slap, our Government, Min. Erlington, serving an industry.
    Just another way we, the immigrants, think we can continue stealing land that none of our ancestors can lay claim to… just because….
    #ashamed, :(

  7. Ali BaBarrow protects his 40 says:

    @pelican

    What makes you think Belize is a country?
    It is an out of control kleptocracy, that has a fig leaf seat at the UN and OAS.

    GO CHOC! show some backbone!
    It is in short supply in former Brish Honduras.
    Occupants here have more respect for murderers who skate, than citizens of principle who succeed making their case in the courts. The south would better off without Belize.

  8. Ali BaBarrow protects his 40 says:

    @melinda

    Get real. Do some basic historical research.

    Every country that has oil, that has a corrupt govt does worse. Find one exception!

    It makes the thieves more powerful, and the people their poor foot servants begging for crumbs.
    What planet do you come from?

  9. Ali BaBarrow protects his 40 says:

    @melinda

    BTW, the Mayans have played by the rules, the courts ruled in their favor many times on the merits of their case and the constitution; only to be screwed by the various PMs.

    Not Mayan, but would be pissed if I could not get justice after all these years. My guess, you like most commenters really do not know what the case is about.

    Are you saying the courts cannot make honest decisions? They seem unable to get murderers in prison, but that is usually because Belize citizens are cowards and won’t testify. Yea, I will fight a war against Guatemala, but I won’t do what it takes to be a real citizen and testify against criminals. I am ok with govt corruption, is the new Belizean way. Keep it up, the cuntry will only get poorer to the point there is no longer a country, just mob rule queer beaters protecting children for Jesus.

  10. CEO says:

    So all we do is set the aside the laws of the country and previous judgments of the courts in favor of BIG OIL because they have spend 20 million dollars already? By the way 20 million dollars sounds big to individuals but to BIG OIL this is chump change!

    Why couldn’t they at least force the oil company into compliance with the law concurrently as they progress with drilling? Set deadlines when this should be completed and if those deadlines are not met then shut the operations down regardless even if they have spent 100 Million dollars. Why do we have laws then if all we do is to set them aside conveniently to accommodate BIG OIL or anyone else for that matter? In my humble opinion this would have been the smarter thing to do while forcing compliance with the laws of the land.

    Another dumb move!

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