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Mar 18, 2011

Maya Leader says Government’s Attorney can’t define their identity

The Maya land rights case was initially won in June 2010 by thirty-eight southern villages. The Supreme Court legally allowed communal land rights which has been the traditional way of life practiced by the Mayas. But the government resisted and took the case to the Appeals Court. The Mayas are united in their right to ancestral land and are prepared to fight all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice. Present inside the chambers for the second day of arguments was the past president of the Maya Alcalde Association and current Chairman of the Maya Leaders Alliance, Ligorio Coy.  Coy says he’s embarrassed by the attempt by the government attorneys to discredit and define who they are as a people.

Ligorio Coy, Chairman, Maya Leaders Alliance

Ligorio Coy

“I feel embarrassed of the lawyer which is Miss Lois Young. For two days we have sit there listening to her among her discrimination amongst the Belizean people; not only the Maya. In fact she is saying we are non Mayans in this country like we do not exist in this world. To me their position is to tell us who we are. But there is no one in this world to tell us who we are. We are Mayan people. There is only one greater that can tell us who we are. And I ask the Belizean people to believe in who they are. Regardless of which ethnicity you are; you should believe from north, south, east and west, they should believe in who they are. Whether you are Mayan or Creole or Garifuna, you are the descendants of your ancient people.”

Jose Sanchez

“I know you have one more day, Monday, in Appeals Court. The decision whether or not in your favor. If they judges they say you can’t have communal land rights, will you accept it?”

Ligorio Coy

“We will not accept it. We have been living there for many years; it has been the way of our life and that is the way how we live in Toledo District. And we are united as Mayan people. Again, I must say that the government should come out and ask the nation for an apology. If he’s discriminating us, he’s discriminating against the rest of the Belizean people.”

Jose Sanchez

“Now if we could just refresh the original case that you won. The sentiments that finally the courts they appeased you; they said you can have these rights. As Mayans, as Belizean, who are you then since in the Courts they are trying to define you. Who would you say you are?”

Ligorio Coy

“The court itself cannot tell us who we are but we believe we are indigenous Mayan people. We are the Ketchi Maya and the Mopan Maya of southern Belize. We believe in the law that we have here in Belize when we went before the Supreme Court; it is a law of Belize but it has not been respected by the Belizean government. We are Mayan. No one can tell us who we are. And we will not be easy to being thrown down; we will not be easy to get fear—whether we win or don’t win here in this Court of Appeal. But we will. If we win we will be victorious to the rest of the Mayan people. And if we do lose this case, we will find a way to appeal back to the C.C.J.”

Antoinette Moore is the attorney for the Mayas. She has been representing the Mayas in the land rights case for years.

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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22 Responses for “Maya Leader says Government’s Attorney can’t define their identity”

  1. mustard stand says:

    I cannot believe the audacity of the belize govenment in this case. We all know, they Maya, they are their own. They are the indigenous people of this country..Even the history books and the ruins are Maya.. and its our tax dollars that pay for this stupid crap in a court of law.. to an ex wife no less.,lol, only in Belize..

  2. little boy says:


  3. little boy says:


  4. Disgusted! says:

    Keep up the good fight my MAYAN People. You are no less than any one of us who are entitled to the same rights and liberties as any born Belizean. Lois Young thinks she is invincible and even took it so blatantly far as to insult the heritage of the Belize they so profess to love. Remember, it only took a sling and a pebble to slay Goliath and when he fell, he fell HARD!!!!!!!! “BY THE BALLOT, THE BIBLE, THE BULLET OR THE BOMB. ANY WHICH WAY FREEDOM WILL COME!!!” LET THIS BE A RESOUNDING MESSAGE!!!!!!!!

  5. BDF soldier says:

    MAYAS,get it right,LAWYER young dont give a $#!% about you guys,just as the pup and udp mafia.OILS means millions of $$$$$$$$$$$ to the PUP& UDP LAW FIRM,and they have taste the sweet smell of oil in spanish lookout,and they want more!and who ever gets in the way will be punished severly by the BDF watch it mayas,you are in for,maybe DEATH,from the death squad.

  6. javier solis says:

    I think the Mayas like all other belizean deserve to own their own land. But with a private tilte. It makes no sense to gain something from the national government and then have a people subjected to an alcalde for permission to use. Outright title for all. The communal issue did not work for the people of San Jose Palmar in Orange Walk and they fought untill all of them got their tilte. That is the best way.

  7. miranda says:

    I think that they have a right to live in their traditional ways and everyone should respect that. I have a great respect for all ethnic groups in Belize and am proud of everyone. The thing that i do not agree and I think that is what government and perhaps other people think is that they think that southern Belize is theirs. Belize is for all Belizeans so they are not supposed to take for granted that all southern Belize belongs to them and in so doing refrain development and the sacred right of every Belizean to say this is our country and we should all be able to benefit from whatever natural resource that lies underneath that Belizean Soil (Not only Mayan Soil).

  8. BZNinCALI says:

    Lucas, love your perspective…

  9. Lisa M Shoman says:

    I object to the use of my tax dollars to advance this immoral and objectionable position. To deny that the Maya of Belize are indigenous, is to deny the Maya the right to self-determination, and ignores the history and the will of the people. The Maya cannot compromise on the issue of identity – and land rights is about identity.

    “All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” Mohandas K. Ghandi

  10. javier solis says:

    From what i hear, only the die hard political PUP supporters are in favor of communal land ownership. Everybody else with sense wants the Maya to own individual land. this is the best way. And let development not be stopped or hindered by Oceana or Matura who have only their own interest at heart. Before she became a lawyer and this big pay, did you hear of Matura being an environmentatlist???Come on. And its true, Cristina does own her private piece of land in Toledo.

  11. andres says:

    yeah.. need to dish the barrow out.. .its time.. barrow is more like the lionfish himself. wants to occupy all ..all for him self, aand his gangster people..

  12. enuff mein says:

    so lets decide who we gonna vote for next election: crooked or evil? both one in the same. they both suck bze ppl dry. belize people: VOTE ON CONTENT OF CHARACTER, NOT JUST CUZ UR GRANNY WAS PUP, OR UR DADDY WAS UDP. what has it gotten us so far? remember these men gain the title of “honorable” when u vote them in. at least vote for the candidates who are most honorable, instead of voting for him because he has funny commercials on tv, or because he’s a high ranking member in teh party so u can get something from him (zinc for roof, $ for light bill, DFC bill paid off, piece of land, etc.) use your heads people. think about teh future. why do you think crime is so high? things are hard all around. instead of thinking about instant gratification and “grab grab grab” like politicians in their only 5 year term, think about the future and how your children will live in the next 5-10 years. instead of selling your vote for $100 or a sack of rice. things like that cant help anybody!

  13. Lucas says:

    Lisa, I have my doubts that you are the real Lisa. Anyway, when you talk about self determination for the Mayas, Are you promoting political independence?. If so, are you aware that you are promoting the fracturing of our JEWEL? Something that Mr. Goldson and Mr. Price fought against. It is true that the world of diplomacy is compromise and negociation but, the territorial unity of Belize is non-negociable. The Jewel belongs to no Maya, Garifuna, Spanish, Creole, etc tec. but to the BELIZEAN PEOPLE. By the way, do not use Mr. Ghandi out of context. When he said what you quote he was referring to the self determination of India as a Nation. No matter what our aspirations as an ethnic group, as a family , organization or as an individual are, those aspirations are subject to the unity and wellfare of Belize. Anything else is TREASON. While what Mr. Ghandi said is true, also what Mr. Benito Juarez said is: THE RESPECT OF THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS IS PEACE. The govt. must respect the right of the Mayas but the Mayas must respect the rights of the govt. Let us not forget that MY RIGHTS ENDS WHERE THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS BEGINS.

  14. Lisa M Shoman says:

    Lucas, I hasten to assure you that I am indeed, real.

    The term “self-determination” is not only used to denote the right to choose one’s political governance. I used it in its wider sense, that is, the right to determine one’s destiny or identity.

    One of the oldest fallacies in this struggle is that the assertion of Maya communal land rights means the cessation or negation of private land ownership by Maya Belizeans. I had to fight this when I joined the cause in 1994. Another is the misconception or deception that the assertion of indigenous rights would mean the “balkanization” of Belize. Nothing could be further from fact.

    In fact, the Maya of Belize were, the first ethnic group in Belize to issue a public declaration – the Millenium Decalration ( see text here: .
    In that Declaration , the Maya delared to Guatemala and the world – “As Belizeans, we are integral and full members of the nation of Belizeand we declare our full and unequivocal allegiance to the State of Belize.”

    Respect, Lucas, is knowing your history.

    Ghandi’s quote speaks of compromise on the fundamentals. Identity is one such fundamental. Identity is at stake here. That is the wider point, not a pedantic view of”what Ghanti was “referring” to.
    I’ll happily debate you anytime, on the welfare and unity of the Jewel I serve, the legacy of Mr. Price and Mr. Goldson, and the Maya land rights issue with only one condition.

    Do state your full name.

  15. Visitor!!! says:

    I think we are missing the point here.

    By allowing the Mayas communial land rights in the south, it would mean that the Mestizos in the north can be allowed communial land rights also. What would happen to the Creole, East Indian and the Garifuna and others? What communial land rights would they have?

    As it stands a person who is not a Maya cannot live in any of those villages in the south –and– that is a violation of my constitutional right as a belizean.

    The Constitution of Belize allows any Belizean to reside anywhere they want in Belize, any person can also own any piece of land anywhere in Belize. No disrespect but this Land rights thing for the Mayas is violating our Constitutional Rights Belizeans!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Earl Grey says:

    As long as they don’t get TREATED LIKE THE AMERICAN INDIAN…………..

    ………………………………………………genocide and given useless land.

  17. Janice Aguilar says:

    I do not know the complete story but what I can say is that the Maya were in Belize before any other sector of the Belizean People. Belize belongs to the Belizean People and should be respected as such. The Maya People were our first indegenous race and must be respected as such. However, if I read this correctly neither the Maya or any other race has a right to divide our country. This has been the fight with Guatemala all along. WE ARE BELIZEANS. United We Stand Divided We Fall. Stand strong Belizeans for what we believe is right. Maya are Belizeans.

  18. NICK HORNBY says:


  19. ReVoLuTiOn says:

    I agree with you ‘little boy’ that the belizean people need to pick up arms and get rid of borrow and all corrupt politicians. We heard what Mr. Coy said, ” And we will not be easy to being thrown down; we will not be easy to get fear—whether we win or don’t win here in this Court of Appeal.” Belizeans we need to put aside our fear and cleanse the country of Belize of these wicked leaders. We need to do it for the country and for the future generation.

    Some people might say that we do not need to resort to this kind of action. I disagree, it is the answer. Belize needs a cleansing and it would not be the first of the last country to fight to get out of the situation it is in because the politicians will not wake up one day and decide to change. They need to be wiped out because they’re hearts are black and their blood is cold water. Their fruits have already revealed it.

  20. Fix It says:

    This is addressed to BDF Soldier. The comments about the BDF being a part of any death squad are totally unbecoming of a soldier. This is not the wild west and it is NOT one of those countries where there can be a state sponsored death squad. Do NOT even joke about it.

    I have great pride and respect for the sacrifices made by our BDF soldiers. Many of of these soldiers are also of Mayan heritiage.

    BDF Soldier’s comments bring down the good name and the good work of the BDF.

  21. Concern Citizen says:

    I am a Belizean woman I too would like a peice of my Jewel. with respect to the maya people most of you guys that are there now migrated from Guatemala. What makes you special that you have tioget what you want I am no UDP fan but am going to stand up for who is standing up for me. Belize is fo all Belizeans not one specified enthnic group ( MAYAN). If you dont like our laws you can always go back to Guatemala and take up your fight there. What it is that I am heraing that i cant get a peice of land in their village down south? Where are my rights as a Belizean here? A question to me mayan people do you think that is right?

  22. Cristina Coc says:

    Dear Belizean Brothers, sisters:

    Usually i don’t bother with all this petty back and forth especially those who really misunderstand the issues, are ignorant about history and most definitely those who are set up to use this medium for partisan politics. First, let me put on the record that I Cristina Coc originally of laguna village do not hold land titled to me in any fashion or form. Those who claim that i do i strongly encourage you to provide the evidence of such and i will gladly go claim my piece! Minister Juan Coy first raised this rumor and Mrs. Moore has since requested proof on my behalf with none forthcoming. This is cheap way to distract from the real issue. Come on Belizeans we are smarter than this!

    Second, please know we fight not a PUP party or a UDP party or even Dean Barrow or Lois Young, we fight ANY government who violates the rights of its people. Most of you who speak of Belize being for belizeans don’t truly know what you mean, come visit Toledo, see how we live learn of our history not just from the history books but from the people themselves. I ddare to say we are the kindest, and humble people, we are not calling for separatism, or war or special rights its just that before now we used to take the abuse and discrimination so you did not hear us, but now that we have risen, organized and challenged the status quo some have gotten frightened. People didn’t think that them “from backa bush” could do a thing especially through the courts, they are too illiterate we are used to using them…well all that is done my friends, wake up take firm your stand as a Belizean and make this country better. Maya people are being the example, its a shame some of our own Maya people will turn against us out of greed and ignorance. Our grandparents did not live for themselves, they lived for their community, in this capitalistic world its all about me, but there are still those of us who look after the best interest of our entire community.

    Just for the heck of it, i don’t live in a tatch roof house eventhough i eat most of my dinners in my mothers tatch kitchen, but none of it this defines who i am. Why can’t i have the cement house too? Who says i must be barefoot to be Maya? Who says i have to be illiterate? I am due the same great fruits of all people regardless of ethnic origin. But just because i have the cement house (which i don’t) it does not mean i must have that at the expense of losing my ancestral right! I am Maya not because of what i look like, i was born a Q’eqchi maya and yes i wear shoes, i am not naked and i am certainly not ignorant to what is happening in my Belize. But i will never give anyone the chance to define my identity or to say am not indigenous. My gosh we even have people going around claiming an Maya identity for political gain! How much more abuse do you expect us to take! Roberto Shal i invite you to come speak to me about thses issues you have at my office, if we go way back, lets go back and lets soprt this out am concerned about you brother!

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