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Oct 19, 2021

Big Falls Needs Entire Village to Decide on Communal Land Rights Issue

On Monday, the alcalde of Big Falls Village, Eulalio Choko, along with four other residents, came forward in the media to address concerns that they say the community is having with respect of communal land rights.  While it was only a small group, they are firmly against collectively owning the lands that comprise the village.  Notwithstanding the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice, they say that the village, by and large, prefers that the government takes the lead in divvying up the properties so that residents are instead individual land owners.  This evening we got a response from the spokesperson of the Maya Leaders Alliance who told News Five that while their position ought to be respected, a decision such as that cannot be made by a minority of villagers and that a village meeting ought to be held to determine a popular consensus.

 

Cristina Coc

Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance

“Perhaps if I could give my perspective on the recent flurry of opposition, I want to put it that way because we have seen this happen time and time again. Each and every time that there is a visit and a delegation of ministers to the Toledo District which fortunately, I was able to witness myself. I want to give our perspective. The Maya villages have lands that are protected by the law, the constitution itself protects their rights to the lands and the recent Caribbean Court of Justice [ruling] basically affirms this right and says that this right is equal in protection to any other form of property rights here in Belize. So the village itself, and when I say village I am talking about all forty-one villages, including Big Falls and San Marcos. The village itself will have to make a decision on what it wants to do with its land. The rights of the village cannot be ignored as we see it.  If a community decides that, listen while the court has told me that I own this land, while the court has told me that I have a right to this land, I will choose not to accept my inheritance basically. I will choose to accept that the government is the one that controls and administrates and that the government is the one that issues individual, private properties on my lands. That is their right, however, that decision cannot be made by a single individual in that community and it cannot be made by a minority of individuals in that community.”


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