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Oct 29, 2020

Is There a Land Grab in Maya Communities Down South?

In recent weeks, the communities of Golden Stream, Medina Bank, San Pedro Columbia, Indian Creek and several others, all Maya villages protected by communal land rights, have reported that surveyors authorized by the Lands Department have been opening survey lines in those locations.  Those survey lines reportedly bisect agriculture fields belonging to villagers.  An investigation launched by the Maya Leaders Alliance, the Toledo Alcaldes Association and the Julian Cho Society has revealed that there is presently a land grab involving foreigners and other persons who are non-Maya.  In the context of the C.C.J. decision where a consent order has been handed down which government and the indigenous community must honour, MLA Spokesperson Cristina Coc says that this is a gross violation of the order, as well the existing communal land rights afforded to the Maya community.


Cristina Coc

Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance

“There is a standing consent order from the Caribbean Court of Justice that affirms the rights of the Maya people to their ancestral lands and territories here in southern Belize.  We have, in the recent weeks, seen an escalation of illegal activities on Maya land which is, in our opinion, a blatant disregard for the rights of the Maya people and the rule of law.  It was very clear in the Caribbean Court of Justice content order, in particular paragraph four which tells the Government of Belize to cease and abstain from any acts whether by agents of the state itself or by third parties acting with its leave, acquiescence or tolerance that might adversely affect the value, the use or the enjoyment of the lands that are used and occupied by our Maya villagers, unless such acts are preceded by free, prior and informed consent obtained from the affected communities.  Now we have received a number of complaints from different villages in the Toledo District where they have reported to our offices that there is an increase of surveyors on their lands opening up survey lines without the consent of the Maya communities that are being affected.  Whenever the leaders request an inquiry about where the authority has come from for these surveys, we see in bits and pieces of information that these surveys are permitted by the Lands and Survey Department, particularly the Commissioner of Lands and Survey.  That is very, very concerning to us here in the Maya communities because we are cognizant of the fact and we’ve been reassured time and time again by the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission that all government departments, all C.E.O.s, all government agencies that have an engagement with the Maya communities have been informed and are aware that there is a standing consent order that affirms our rights and that protects ancestral rights to lands and territories.”

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