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Oct 8, 2021

Seine Bight Leaders Oppose Gas Station on Sacred Community Grounds

Representatives of two groups, the Garifuna Nation and the National Garifuna Council, have banned together in their call for the Government of Belize to have developers of a gas station in Seine Bight immediately cease and desist operations.  It’s a needed service, since villagers travel outside for gas, but developers are facing opposition because the site identified is considered Garifuna sacred land.  Cynthia Ellis-Topsey of Garifuna Nation and Laverne Arzu of the National Garifuna Council told us that they feel disrespected, because a commitment to halt the project for a period of one month has been ignored.

 

Cynthia Ellis-Topsey

Cynthia Ellis-Topsey, Ambassador, Garifuna Nation

“Way before a gas station was being proposed to be built, close to the sacred lands and sacred sight of the Garifuna people in Seine Bight. This would not have been possible, if there was respect for the Garifuna people, as indigenous people, who just have the same kind of rights as other indigenous people, such as the Maya. And the developer along with the village council and other members of the government, decided to have a gas station built where Garifuna sacred lands exist, where Garifuna sacred temples exist, where there is no fire hydrant, where there is little access to fire services.”

 

Laverne Arzu

Laverne Arzu, Vice President, National Garifuna Council

“In our consultation with the Minister of Ingenious and Area Rep, they told everybody there that they were going to put this project on a halt for one month and it didn’t even happen. They put the halt on the ninth of September and continued to work until the Saturday morning. Then, the Area Rep came back and he comes to solicit some names. Well, he never did walk around the entire day. He walked around for like two or three hours, because he get chased from several houses due to them not wanting the gas station there. After he went from there and came out on air and wanted to say that he get two hundred and twenty five names. But, he never did get that two twenty five, because the short amount of time that he was in Seine Bight.”

 

Minister Rodwell Ferguson reportedly conducted a survey indicating that some two hundred and sixty-eight residents supported the development, while fifty voted against.  But Ellis-Topsey and Arzu say they too have obtained hundreds of signatures of people opposed. We will continue to follow this story.


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