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Jun 24, 2015

Cristina Coc and Mayas Charged in PG Court

A News Five crew is in Punta Gorda tonight where the situation is a volatile one. We’ll have much more on this story later on in the newscast, but at about four o’clock this morning, the police rolled into the village of Santa Cruz, Toledo. They rounded up ten Maya residents and took them to Punta Gorda.  Later in the morning, Maya Leaders Alliance spokesperson, Cristina Coc, was arrested. The scene mirrored what transpired in Santa Cruz on June twentieth. Handcuffed after being detained during the predawn sweep of the village, the group of eleven, including outspoken activist Coc, was escorted from a holding cell at the Punta Gorda Police Station to an adjacent courtroom.  Collectively, they were arraigned before Magistrate Emerson Banner for unlawfully imprisoning Rupert Myles during a citizen’s arrest on Saturday.  Their indictment follows the prime minister’s pronouncement on Monday, that the action taken by members of the community, at the behest of Alcalde Manuel Pop, was indefensible and that he would have explored the possibility of criminal liability.  That statement was manifested this afternoon when charges, including Common and Aggravated Assault, were also brought against the men.  The issue is divisive in nature, as allegations of racial discrimination are similarly being levied against the village leader.  That’s the immediate backdrop to which nearby hecklers hurled insults at the procession.  Inside the cramped courtroom, the group was primarily represented by attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd.  While the matter has been adjourned to July twenty-eight and bail was initially set at eight thousand dollars each, plus one surety of the same amount, the conditions, considering that land documents were required as bond, were somewhat excessive.  Matura-Shepherd further explains.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney for Detained Santa Cruz Villagers

“If you were in there, you would notice that for the two offenses bail was set at eight thousand dollars initially. However, under the regulations or the instructions issued by the chief magistrate, if your bail is over five thousand dollars, you must bring land paper. Now we are talking with people who are talking about communal land rights so they don’t have land papers so effectively you can’t get bail. Now the magistrate, I made an application to him to ask him to use his discretion—because he has the power to use his discretion—and vary the terms of bail…the amount. He can give either the eight thousand dollars and split it into two sureties, which means that each person will be signing for four thousand dollars each or he can reduce the bail to five thousand dollars or less so that you can access bail without getting land paper. I must say that initially he indicated that his style was once he gives bail; that’s it. But I am glad he heard our application and used his discretion because as I pointed out to him, under our constitution, bail is a right; it is not a privilege. Your freedom, your right to freedom under the constitution is important. So no court system should give you some sort of bail or make some kind of provision that makes it beyond your reach. And as I indicated to him, these people don’t own land titles, the mere fact the issue arise out of communal land rights. They don’t have one title to say here and go. And it is rather interesting because it shows you clearly that the system that we have designed, doesn’t not keep in mind the cultural difference of our indigenous people.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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9 Responses for “Cristina Coc and Mayas Charged in PG Court”

  1. Rod says:

    Rise up my Mayan people rise up show this thieving pm and his gov .that you are tired of his bigotry and racism he is the biggest racist in the country he is the thief he is the murderer and all his ministers deserve to be in jail along with him fu thief.

  2. Belizean says:

    Is Audrey instigating racist sentiment?

  3. summer says:

    I cannot stand Audrey Matura, the Mayan are saying to us black Belizean that we are not welcome in that area who are they to speak on who to live there.. It is racism. Matura is a ambulance chaser tell everyone what you did to the Yearwood family because she received more money from Williams.

  4. David says:

    To the Maya of Toledo this must feel like the dawn of new age. First came the white man with all his diseases and weapons and technology, pushing them out of the land of their ancestors, which they have occupied for centuries. Now comes the black man, all pompous and proud, a former slave of the white man, far from his own homeland, now the white man’s pawn and heir of political control in this land of the gods.

  5. Logic Over Stupidity says:

    I clearly recall Cristina Coc saying that if Mayans in the communities that were seeking communal land rights wanted individual title to their own piece of land that was not a problem….that they could apply and get individual titles if the so choose…but now its another story.

    Mr. Miles has the right to live and move freely within the country of Belize and he should have been afforded the same opportunity as the Mayans in those communities who want individual title to their own piece of land.

    Now what if the Garifuna, the Creole, and other ethnic groups begin to claim certain parts of the country as their own and refuse let others live in those communities? What will happen then? Belize is a melting pot of cultures & people who have been living together for decades without any sort of racial problems. Cristina and her posse needs to stop their stupidness and wise up…they are going to cause segregation and racial violence. We respect, and are proud of the Mayan heritage of Belize but when groups start to turn my country into war zone, then enough is enough.

    What the commission on the Maya land rights need to do is reserve an adequate portion of land for them to practice their beliefs/religion, like a Mayan reserve…this group can’t expect that the government will allow communal land right in every single mayan village in the south…they mad….you cannot disenfranchise the free movement of others.

    Clearly, these people think that the can violate other people’s human rights without repercussion. The authorities have to put a stop to this non-sense…Cristina di ride a high horse, but dah when the horse throw her off and kick her in her ass.

  6. barbara says:

    The Mayans are racist ….the same thing happened to my grandparents because she chose to marry a black Belizean. My mother grew up not knowing her maternal family (Hoa) her parents were expelled from the Maya village.

  7. PuebloUnido says:

    THe PM has created this monster. No, it isn’t right to string up any human being like an animal. However, Mr. Myles has broken rules and must man up and accept his wrong doing. THe PM spoke to soon – under stress from Melvin!!!!

  8. me says:

    No rise up. These Mayans have a hidden agenda suing the government for communal land rights. They tried before to keep another guy from visiting a village in PG. The lady that was arrested probably thinks she is the head of immigration in that Mayan country in our homeland. No Mayan need permission to go anywhere in our country. So why do any other Belizeans need a permit to visit Mayan villages in Toledo? Right on Barrow, string them up. They got to realize that from PG to Coro, it’s one country and we not crossing any borders. Yaye Barrow, curb them now before they turn tiger in your tail.

  9. Sofia says:

    Its a shame that it is being racist on behalf of a black prime minister defending his race and the mayans defending their rights and land and customs. There should be constraint on us all… Yes, we have a black prime minister but he should look at the facts first.

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