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Dec 1, 2022

Property Value of Maya Land Claims Equivalent to Two Hundred Billion Dollars

Andrew Marshalleck

Senior Counsel Marshalleck says that in order for Belizeans to appreciate the magnitude of the task the Government of Belize has undertaken to fully implement the Customary Maya Land Rights in Belize, they must first understand the claim in dollars and cents. So, he broke it down for us, noting that while the government must recognize the property rights of the Maya people through legislation, the entire population must decide how those policies will be framed.

 

Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney-at-Law

“Just to appreciate the magnitude of what is happening, because people like to, I think they will appreciate dollars and cents instead of percentages. You have going by the valuation of customary Maya land rights as presented in the recent Jalacte case presented by experts on behalf of the Maya village of Jalacte, puts the value of Maya customary land tenure at two hundred thousand dollars an acre. That claim is approaching more than a million acres. So, you are looking at a two hundred billion dollars proposition. The impact of that is monumental. And, the process for dealing with it is complex. So, it is not something you jump up and a Belizean people you throw something out there. It is not something you jump up and as a Belizean people just throw something out there. It needs to be fully considered and all its implications fully appreciated and there needs to be full consultations and everybody needs to be brought on board with however it is that we as a people decide we want to treat with it. That is in the context of recognizing that we must recognize the property rights of the Maya people within the existing constitutional framework. But, I say that just to emphasize that the task ahead is a difficult and a large one. And it is difficult enough without all the quibbling over all the little things that really at the end of the day will mean very little.”


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