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Jul 7, 2015

Arrest of Cristina Coc and the Santa Cruz 13 Gets More International Attention

The arrest of Maya activist and spokesperson for Maya Leaders Alliance, Cristina Coc and other Maya leaders, is getting further local and international attention. Earlier today no less than the Geneva based United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples made a statement on the pre-dawn arrests as well as the issue of communal land rights. This comes on the heels of Friday’s announcement that the MLA is heading back to the Caribbean Court of Justice. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The recent issue of communal land rights, particularly the unlawful occupation of sacred ground within the Uxbenka Archaeological Site in Santa Cruz, and the manner in which it is being handled by government, continues to cast an undesirable silhouette over the country.  The latest release from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warns that the actions of the Barrow administration, in responding to the matter, show disturbing neglect for Maya property rights.  This, coming from UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.  In a statement issued earlier today in Geneva, Tauli-Corpuz calls on government to, quote,  establish a dialogue with Maya leadership and discuss outstanding issues of concern regarding this case, as well as a broader land tenure situation of the Maya people in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect, unquote.


That proclamation was promptly followed by a release from the Toledo Alcaldes Association, amid an outpour of support from other local and international non-government organizations.  In its statement, the TAA informs that, along with the Maya Leaders Alliance, it has filed an application to the Caribbean Court of Justice reporting on violations to the Consent Order that was agreed upon on April twenty-second.  Those infractions include failure to acknowledge the right of the Mayas to determine who may reside and use Maya lands according to their customary laws and land tenure system.  Likewise, illegal logging within Mayan village lands, as well as surveying for the distribution of communal land to third parties remain unchecked.


This afternoon, another organization, the Congress of Maya Teachers, led by Executive Director Pedro Choc, sent out a release of its own addressing, among other issues, permission for outsiders to be accepted into a village.  This, according to the CMT, is a practice that has been employed widely across the indigenous community over many, many, years.  In the case of Santa Cruz, where it involves the unfortunate incident of the arrest of Rupert Myles, the organization does not believe that it is an issue of racism or discrimination.  Instead, the accounts of the villagers and the supporting documents indicate a failure in giving respect to the norms of the village and the Alcaldes court.


The Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association have requested the Caribbean Court of Justice to determine that the Government of Belize meet with their representatives within thirty days in order to move forward the implementation process of the consent order.

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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5 Responses for “Arrest of Cristina Coc and the Santa Cruz 13 Gets More International Attention”

  1. lucas says:

    The U.N. along with the Toledo Alcalde Association in conjunction with the Congress of Maya teachers should do well to remember that their rights ends where the rights of another begins. These organizations have appropriately forgotten what a venerable and highly regarded Maya, Senor Don Benito Juarez, once said: EL RESPETO AL DERECHO AJENO ES LA PAZ. In English: THE RESPECT TO THE RIGHTS OF OTHER IS PEACE. Mr. Barrow should do well to heed the counsel of the East Indian Organization who calls on him to abolish the Alcalde system.
    I believe what Senator Lisel said: That he Mayas do not want to settle.

  2. Just another gringo in Belize says:

    Go Maya , go!
    This government and Barrow needs a good spanking, to show the world what kind of mindless tyrant he is.

  3. bee says:

    did mles respect the right of santa cruz people? No. he is a bully and want to carry his belize city attititude to the village. He is playing the race card to protect himself.

  4. Jery says:

    Congress of maya teachers are not even registered, its a one or 2 persons running it, exploiting what can be genuine in Toledo. I asked myslef, what the hell cmtt has to do with this. Its another fabricated cronnies of kristina coc, just like how they manipulated the alcalde association. MLa on the other hand is illegally representing the the maya of Toledo. Ask your self who put or elected them there? its a husband and wife wanting fame and are so claiming they are working for the people and blindfolding many leaders in Toledo. This much, they are good bullshitters with their mouths…Sadly un answered on their behalf. If only would Un knows how dirty these people are….Your days are comming to face all of this mess.

  5. NYorker says:

    We the people of Toledo have lived harmoniously with each other for centuries. Garifunas were teachers, godparents and adoptive parents of Mayan children. We traded and got drunk together. For decades we were cut off from the rest of the country and we got along well. My wife and sweet heart are Mayan. It took one krufi to come down here and spoil the pot and play the race card. For many years when we were literally cut off from Belize. the Alcades were the rule of law, the only law. Give this tradition its due respect. I am sorry, they didn’t lash ih rass and teach him some respect..

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