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Feb 8, 2024

Government Updates Media on Draft Maya Land Policy

This morning, representatives of various media houses met for breakfast with the Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs and her senior staff, including C.E.O.’s Adele Catzim and Marconi Leal Junior.  Also present was Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck and Assistant Solicitor General Samantha Matute-Tucker on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.  The purpose of the breakfast meeting was for the Government of Belize to provide an update on where it is in respect of the draft Maya Customary Land Tenure Policy.  Following a demand by the collective Maya communities that government consults with them in their respective villages, Minister Dolores Balderamos-Garcia announced today that they will be visiting all forty-one indigenous communities to meet with villagers regarding the draft policy.  She also explained that the Office of Indigenous People’s Affairs had already scheduled a public consultation in Punta Gorda Town prior to the mass gathering in Santa Elena on January twenty-seventh.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs

“Yes, we do intend, it will set back the process, as senior counsel has said, but we do intend to reach out in going back to the villages because I think that in responding to the political reality, because there is pressure, senior counsel and Samantha [Matute] can speak to the legal aspect, I have to try to address the political reality.  We do intend to go back to as many villages as we possibly can, even if we have to bring some of them together.  But I want to clarify a misconception that the government was not responsive to the call of the people to visit their villages when we held the latest consultations in January.  Those consultations were planned well in advance, the latest iteration of the policy was shared from early December. What basically happened is that the plans for the consultation that Saturday and Sunday were already in place long before, when all of a sudden a few letters started to come in to the Office of Indigenous People’s Affairs in Punta Gorda, saying, “We noh di cohn da PG.  We want unu come to Santa Elena.”  And clearly, it was not a situation that the government could have responded to in any kind of responsible approach because had, well, I don’t want to use the word capitulated, but had we said okay, we’ll go to Santa Elena, we would have met twenty busloads of people with placards that had been prepared for them, saying, “Remember, you have to come back to us for your vote.”  turning the entire situation completely political.”


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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