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May 3, 2023

G.O.B. Says “C.C.J. Consent Order Doesn’t Give Maya Villages Carte Blanche”

This morning in Belize City, the Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, along with the Area Representative for Toledo West, and other government officials, met with the media at the Biltmore. The purpose of the press conference was to provide an update on developments regarding the implementation of the C.C.J.’s Consent Order of 2015, as well as to share the Briceño administration‘s position on the friction between several Maya and non-Maya communities in the south.  While reporters gathered in the Toucan Hall, representatives of the Toledo Alcaldes Association and the Maya Leaders Alliance were scheduled to meet with the Attorney General in Belmopan at one o’clock, on the heels of the press conference.  What was discussed during the briefing ultimately resulted in the Toledo Alcaldes Association walking out of the scheduled sit down with the AG this afternoon.  At the start of the arranged meeting with journalists, Minister Dolores Balderamos-Garcia touched on the issue of the delimitation of the outer boundaries of Maya customary lands, in the context of the tension between Yemeri Grove and Laguna villages in Toledo District.  She began by reading an excerpt from a report that was recently submitted by the Ministry of Natural Resources following a flare up between residents of both communities two weeks ago.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs

“Based on the findings of the inspection, the area in question has been occupied and has been illegally surveyed by the village council of Laguna.  The area is in close proximity or adjacent to Laguna Village where we saw clearings and construction of homes occurring.  The area is being disputed by both villages, as land belonging to their own communities.”  And so, just to repeat, and just to, I guess, make the point that in our country, based on our laws, the Survey Act and the Lands Act as we know it, the only entity that can sanction licensed surveyors to place survey markers. The only entity in our country that can legally do that, lawfully, licensed surveyors based on the sanction of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Petroleum.  So I’d like to make that very clear and we must make the point with no offense to anyone, but as a responsible government, that the Consent Order of the Caribbean Court of Justice does not give Maya villages carte blanch.  We must say that markers placed not by the Lands Department are not legally sanctioned and therefore, we want to ask parties to refrain from doing such things, especially in areas where we have some dispute.”

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