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Apr 29, 2014

US Capital permit expires on Wednesday, but attorney says deadline has been waived

On Friday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow told the media that government would not enforce the deadline for U.S. Capital’s existing permit to conduct exploratory work within the Sarstoon-Temash National Park.  That license expires on Wednesday.  While there have been significant developments on the part of SATIIM, particularly the ejection of Valentin Makin as First Alcalde of Conejo Village, U.S. Capital has been busy securing its waiver.  The written agreement ensures that the company remains in compliance with the ruling of Justice Michelle Arana who, on April third, upheld the legitimacy of the permit.  News Five spoke this evening with attorney Michael Peyrefitte.  He gave an update on the present situation in the south, as a well as a comment, on what he says, was the unlawful removal of a village leader for being in accord with U.S. Capital.

 

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney for U.S Capital Energy

Michael Peyrefitte

“I was informed about an hour ago that pursuant to what the Prime Minister had said on TV that we would get a letter saying that in effect the deadline for the permit would be waived. In that way we could ensure that we satisfy Madam Justice Arana’s judgment in every way. One, we can use the time for the government to conduct its consultation as directed by the court with the Mayan people and as well, the judge made very clear that the permit granted to US capital would not be struck down and that it is lawful and that the work should continue.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now, there is concern in various parts of the wider Mayan community with regards to a decision taken by residents of Conejo to remove one of its Alcaldes and have him replaced as a matter of rumor that he was cozy with the company you are representing, US Capital.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“Well, you can ask him yourself. He is certainly not a follower; he is a leader. You can ask him if he is cozy with the company, but I did hear that. I can’t see how you can just come together and arbitrarily remove an Alcalde or a chairman the way the inferior courts act is set up and the way an Alcalde is elected and—if I am not mistaken—appointed by the Attorney General. But I also heard on the news that he had gone to the Prime Minister and in a meeting, the Prime Minister expressed that certainly that removal was illegal and so therefore, essentially, he is still the Alcalde in my view.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“With regards to certain comments made by Doctor Joseph Palacio, the village chairman for Baranco, in other parts of the media…have you taken a position as the attorney for US Capital with the statement that he has made?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“Well I haven’t read in full the text that he has given, but from what I understand from it, he made many statements, but one important one that he made was that when it comes to SATIIM that the Garifuna people were also to be represented on SATIIM. And it was in his view that SATIIM was not taking that into consideration. When I was speaking to the communities and Dr. Palacio had expressed that concern to me, I had urged him to take a more aggressive stand on it. If you believe your people have a place on SATIIM and you don’t believe that you are being represented properly in SATIIM, then it is essentially his job to make his presence be known where it belongs.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Where do we go from here? There is obviously tension on either side of this particular argument and the company is going to proceed business as usual come tomorrow. Where do we go from here in terms of what happens either inside the courts or what happens with regards to sending people out there to block the road or what have you?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“I don’t think that there is as much tension as we may like to believe. There are a few people, who for their own self-interest, would not want to see the company proceed with its operations. I don’t think that blocking the road or trying to physically block operations is the proper thing to do. Certainly SATIIM knows how to go to court. So I think that if they do that, it is certainly something that they choose to do and that cannot spell well; there is no good result to that anyway you look at it. The court, when you talk about respect for the courts, the Judge made it very clear that the operations are to continue; the permit was lawful and consultation needs to take place. The government, from what I have been informed, is in the process of carrying out those consultations and I don’t see the danger or the problem in carrying out those consultations while the operations of the company also continue. So I don’t see that there is any problem; I don’t see that there is any tension. The consultations are going on, the operations are going on and I can’t see what problems will arise.”

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