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Nov 8, 2019

Attorney Greg Ch’oc is Called to the Bar

At the Supreme Court this morning, the well-known former executive director of SATIIM, Gregory Ch’oc was called to the bar.  Ch’oc gained national prominence for his work to promote the rights of the Mayas and his fight against oil exploration.  His views to advance the indigenous people pitted him against the government to the point where it seemed that the fight was personal.  In the N.G.O. community, he was the first named thirteenth senator, but never served since G.O.B. had a change of heart when he was selected.  Now, he has obtained a law degree and is hanging his shingles.  Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Since stepping down as Executive Director of the Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, SATIIM, in August 2014, Greg Ch’oc has been pursuing a law degree at the University of the West Indies.

 

Greg Ch’oc

Greg Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM [File: Sept. 2nd, 2013]

“Yes, I have been accepted to law school.  It’s a personal decision that I have taken in consultation with the leaders of these communities.  They have given me their trust to lead them and it’s only right that I consult with them in decisions, even those that are personal to me.  When I decide to go there will be someone that will rise to the challenge to continue to honor the legacy of resistance of our ancestors.”

 

Five years later, and he’s only the second individual of Mayan ancestry to be welcomed into the legal fraternity.  This morning, Ch’oc was formally called to the bar.

 

Greg Ch’oc, Attorney-at-law

“I feel extremely honoured and privileged to be a part of the cadre of professionals.  As I said earlier in my presentation, it wasn’t like a dream, as many had, but I am satisfied and happy that I made the decision to pursue this profession.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now Greg, you stepped aside as the executive director of SATIIM at a very critical time to pursue a law degree.  What does this now mean for the continued struggle of the indigenous community in the south?”

 

Greg Ch’oc

“In similar ways I worked with the communities prior to going to study law, they will have to be the one to determine whether or not I play a role in the work that I started that is ongoing.”

 

Greg Ch’oc

Isani Cayetano

“Insofar as what is taking place in the south, and the fact that perhaps more and more there is a call for representation at the legal level and otherwise will you still be actively involved in being able to represent the concerns of the broader community of the south?”

 

Greg Ch’oc

“Absolutely, that is the intent.  I hope to return to Punta Gorda and set up shingles and carve out my space because that’s the area that I am much familiar with.  So yes, I will be returning there and provide my services to the members of the public in the south.”

 

There to provide moral support through his personal and professional journey to becoming an attorney-at-law was Ch’oc’s family.  His wife and his indisposed mother remained at his side throughout his pursuit.

 

Greg Ch’oc

“It wasn’t easy, having an ailing mom and not having an income.  There were times when I had second thoughts about the decision I too, but failure was not an option for me.  As you may be aware, and you’ve been covering my work over the last two decades, that when I depart Belize it was much publicity surrounding and regarding my departure and I am sure that had I failed there would have been the same amount of publicity that my departure attracted.  So I had to redouble my effort, my commitment and my studies and having a family at home who gave me their emotional support while I was away, taking care of my ailing mom really assisted me in the emotional strength I needed to my studies.  It’s not easy, it’s a really difficult undertaking.”

 

Ch’oc returns to Punta Gorda where he will be establishing his practice. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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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