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Apr 25, 2014

SATIIM versus G.O.B. and US Capital; P.M. says extension to drill will be waived

Greg Ch'oc

Despite a ruling handed down by Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana on April third, US Capital Energy’s pre-drilling activities in the Sarstoon Temash National Park will continue unabated. That’s because government, like SATIIM and U.S Capital, has its own interpretation of the ruling. In a letter dated April twenty-third, attorney Denys Barrow informs SATIIM’s attorney that government will consult with the Mayan communities before a decision is taken on whether to extend US Capital Energy’s permit. But, and here’s the kicker, during those consultations, G.O.B. will waive the expiration date of the permit. Today, Prime Minister Dean Barrow explained that where the permit and ruling are concerned, government is acting on the advice of Attorney General Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“It is our interpretation based on the Attorney-General’s advice that Madam Justice Arana’s refusal to actually strike down the permits means that the activities can continue…that is the stance of the government. Now I understand that a new application has been filed by, is it SATIIM or the Maya Leader’s Alliance – the claimants…to try and get an injunction to stop the continuation of the activities. Unless that application succeeds, those activities will continue.”

 

Reporter

Dean Barrow

“The government seems to be putting an argument that waiving the expiration date of the permit is allowable, which is what the government has chosen to do as opposed to.”

 

Dean Barrow

“Frankly I think that extending the permit is allowable under Madam Justice Arana’s ruling…”

 

Reporter

“…Without consent.”

 

Dean Barrow

“Yes, because it is the same permit that is being extended. I’m telling you what my understanding is. Going forward…if you’re going to do new activities with a new concessionaire in a new area…you, under that ruling do have to get…the government does have to obtain the prior, informed consent. But the reason we’re framing it in the way we are is because we want to act in a way that can be perceived as reflective of the spirit of the judgment. We just don’t want to rest on what is our understanding of the literal limits of the judgment. Throughout Madam Justice Arana encouraged the process of consultation…I think gave props to the government for at one point having started such a process. So we’re saying look, we are going to consult. We do not agree, and do not accept that consultation has to result in this free, prior consent for us to move forward. But there’s nothing wrong with consultation and there’s everything right with consultation. So we’ll see how far that takes us. But we make the point that we do not and cannot concede what we consider under the judgment our right to allow US Capital Energy to continue with the activities which as the judge pointed out have already cost over twenty million US dollars and that in our view the judge mandated ought to continue.”

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