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Jan 30, 2013

How do Mayas feel about ICJ Referendum?

The Referendum on whether to forward the Belize/Guatemala dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has made it necessary to examine judgments by the court involving territorial dispute. In November 2012, the ICJ ruled on a dispute involving Colombia and Nicaragua that shows the ICJ ruled to compromise, which did not settle well with Colombia. Seventy-five thousand square kilometers of the Caribbean Sea were granted to Nicaragua. However, Colombia has sovereignty over a series of islands in the Caribbean’s San Andres archipelago despite losing a large maritime area. That prompted Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, to withdraw from a treaty that recognized the authority of the ICJ in regional disputes. The southern half of the country is part of the area claimed by Guatemala. The Mayas have won a case recognizing communal lands in the south and they are concerned about the October sixth referendum. News Five spoke via phone to Cristina Coc, the spokesperson for the Maya Leaders Alliance about how the communities will be dealing the referendum.


Jose Sanchez

“Has the Maya Leaders Alliance decided on a yes or no vote?”


Via Phone: Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance

Cristina Coc

“At this stage Jose, I can only say that the communities and the people that the MLA and the TAA represent look forward to the ICJ Referendum education process that is underway. The organization has no position on whether a yes or no on the referendum at this point and we will be guided by the views of its members. We are in the process right now of developing some form of consensus and once that is developed, we would be in a better position to put out a statement; collectively. But as you will realize, we work with thirty-eight Mayan communities and a total of seventy-eight Alcaldes. So we rely on our traditional leaders to generate some form of consensus from the communities. We’d like to say here though that we realize that each individual will vote with their conscience if they choose to participate in the referendum or not. All we can do is to ensure that through education process; that the relevant information is made available to them and that the information is put in language that they understand clearly and that they can have an informed decision in that way. One thing that I would like to reiterate; it was stated by Mr. Cal, who is the president of TAA; he stressed that we encouraged the government to engage in genuine education and consultation with the people unlike what happened with the ninth amendment some years ago or, more recent, the so called consultation in Sunday Wood. We would not like these processes or lack of consultation to repeat itself. We believe that this is such an important issue that it needs to have a team that will genuinely provide the education that is needed to the communities.”


Jose Sanchez

“No one can say for sure how the ICJ will vote or what the decision will be, but there are cases where their compromised being made in regards to maritime areas. if anything is lost from Belize, it would be the south; even though, if you look at the maps, it is almost half of the country that Guatemala is claiming. Mayas will definitely lose land—whether it is communal or private property.”


Via Phone: Cristina Coc

“That is correct and that is why I would not say that there is a special interest or there should be special attention to the Maya people, but certainly we have a lot to think about because no doubt whatever decision is taken; whatever decision is laid down by the international courts, it will have a direct impact on the livelihoods of Maya people. We will be the ones to feel either a loss or some form of impact that will affect us directly. And therefore this decision is even far more important for us to carefully consider because it is our home that is in question.”


Coc says that the MLA and the TAA will soon start their discussion. Now, the Government of Belize is expected to spend ten million dollars on the referendum process alone; that money is yet to be raised. But to give you an idea of what it would take to go to the ICJ, Nicaragua filed the claim against Colombia in 2001. A ruling was not made until 2012 and that case is officially the longest running case by the ICJ.

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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3 Responses for “How do Mayas feel about ICJ Referendum?”

  1. Storm says:

    Mayas especially should vote unanimously against the ICJ.

    Guatemala has practiced genocide against Mayans in my lifetime. In the mid-80s I was at Guatemala Airport on many early mornings, and you could always see their fighter jets, fully loaded with bombs, going north to attack the Mayan villages. How many died? They acknowledge 100,000, but it might have been double or triple that. Whose counting, they were only Indians.

    Mayans are the permanent underclass in Guatemala, and it will be that way here if the Guats win at ICJ.

  2. inthediaspora says:

    Terrific story. Exactly the kind of perspectives we need to hear.

  3. Genotu Rembiuos says:

    The new Mayan calendar is on now. The Mayas will rise in power from now on, that is what I sincerely believe, not by reading nor any media`s influence etc. I say this just by my gut instinct, but there is a cache.For the Mayans to rise again, they MUST adore one God, that`s the key to their success, as simple as that, mark my words !!!
    You may wonder if a dumb is talking, ok yes, but do you think that the powerful and Almighty God will care for us that just get drunk every weekend?
    No, God will care for his people, the Mayas simply strayed away from God by adoring many gods, that led to their downfall.
    They have been adoring too many false gods in the past, but most of them are now sincerely seeking our Lord and Savior. God loves that !!!
    Time will tell.

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