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Oct 21, 2021

Maya Land Rights: Unbroken Chain of Legal Victories

This morning, a panel of four presenters, including Cristina Coc, spokesperson for the Maya Leaders Alliance, convened a lengthy discussion on recognizing the importance of Garifuna land rights. The issue is once again at the forefront of public discourse in light of what has been taking place in Garifuna communities across the country. Coc, who has led the charge for the rights of the indigenous communities to be recognized by the Government of Belize, provided a chronology of the events that ultimately led to the Caribbean Court of Justice affirming the rights of the Maya to communal land. Since the fight began in the early nineties, the Mayas have been victorious in their legal challenge.


Cristina Coc

Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, MLA

“What you will see is an unbroken chain of favorable decisions in the Maya strategic litigation journey. What you will see as well is that it takes an incredible amount of time to not only prepare these cases but also to secure their victories and often what you will find is that the communities become a little bit frustrated because it’s taking too long. The resources are not always available to continue to pursue these land claims and on top of all of that, there will always be an organized effort to divide, to raise opposition, to undermine the efforts of the indigenous communities, and so, we have had to endure all of that. Perhaps the most important thing, an experience that we have had to really contend with is to safeguard our unity as a Maya people to continuously build awareness and education around our rights to lands and resources but also education around the basic human rights, education around the various international instruments that protect our rights. For instance, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

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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