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May 13, 2013

Important Maya monument is savaged; U.D.P. political aspirant is responsible

There is huge public outrage over the reckless destruction of Noh Mul, one of the most important Mayan monuments in northern Belize. Noh Mul stood proudly ten miles north of Orange Walk; it was known as the Big Hill constructed over two thousand years ago. The site consisted of two twin ceremonial clusters surrounded by several plazas and connected by a central causeway. Tonight, only a small mound of rubble now stands where once the towering Mayan monument stood. Late last week, the structure was savaged by heavy equipment owned by contractor, Denny Grijalva, a U.D.P. political aspirant, purportedly for material to fill roads in a nearby community. Archaeologists who visited the site claimed that it was an appalling act of reckless destruction, and their outrage and dismay were still very much in evidence today. Mike Rudon has the story.


Jaime Awe

Dr. Jaime Awe, Director, Institute of Archaeology

“The site of Noh Mul is located in the vicinity of the villages of San Jose/San Pablo, just north of Orange Walk Town. That site has been known archeologically for more than fifty years. In fact, in the 1980s we had some archeological research that was conducted there by people from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom as well as some work that was done by a couple of archeologists who now work at Caracol, the Chases who were then at the University of Pennsylvania. The site had been surveyed, we have several reports in our offices about the site and in fact I think there might even be a PhD dissertation, thesis that was written on the site.”


Mike Rudon, Reporting

In fact, Director of Archaeology Jaime Awe says there is absolutely no way that anybody could have accidentally destroyed the monument, which stood almost eighty feet tall.


Jaime Awe

“Noh Mul was certainly an is certainly a well known site in Orange Walk. In fact, I don’t think any of the villagers in either San Pablo or San Jose, could say or would say that they are not familiar with this site. The destruction that occurred at Noh Mul was anything but accidental. I think that the people who went out there to start to destroy that temple, that pyramid, knew exactly what they were doing.”


Allan Moore, Archaeologist, NICH

“I don’t know what to say about that other than it is sad to see how people would devastate our cultural patrimony as that. And I can’t see why… it is not ignorance.”


Allan Moore

ut ignorance or not, the mound is destroyed, and both Awe and Moore are outraged. They cannot comprehend how this could have happened, and say that nothing can ever replace what has been lost.


Jaime Awe

“The experience of having to see the images of the destruction at Noh Mul is in many ways probably one of the worse set of blows I have felt philosophically and professionally in that regard because what happened there is both deplorable and unforgivable. When one sees the heritage of our country being purposely destroyed for no good reason and particularly when people like myself or the other archeologists at NICH have spent our careers trying to protect and preserve this archeological heritage; to see it destroyed like that it is like when the boxer throws in the towel at the ring.”


Mike Rudon

“What kind of damage has been done at the site?”


Allan Moore

“Irreversible. I mean you can’t even quantify it. Culture is not about money. Your patrimony is not about money. It is the value of your identity; it is the value of your Belizean-ness in you. It is the value of having that affinity to a past. That’s what makes Belizeans, Belizeans. It’s the passion; we know where we come from, we have a common root and the wholesomeness of culture. You can’t sell culture, you can’t buy culture; it is within you. And that is priceless as far as I am concerned.”


Jaime Awe

“I’m going out to site on Wednesday and we are hoping to look at it and see if there is anything at all that we will be able to recover from the amount of stuff that has been destroyed there. I’m hoping that there will be bits and pieces that we can acquire from any kind of work that we do there. But to say that we can try to preserve the building anymore; that is impossible.”


The site is located on private land, but these men who have given their lives to preserving our rich history say that doesn’t matter, or make what has been done right or legal.


Jaime Awe

“We have been informed that the owner of D-Mars is Mister Grijalva. What we then discussed is that the archeologists will go into the police station; take the police there so that they could record the damage with the full intention that we will take this matter to court. And so the next step is that the police are getting some more information on who is responsible, who the land owner is and the purpose of that is to seek that this matter goes to court. And the reason is that it is against the law; it is against the nature act to willfully destroy an ancient monument. And the denature act. Any willful destruction of an ancient site or monument has penalties of ten years imprisonment or ten thousand dollars for this kind of destruction. So the matter will go to court and hopefully that litigation will come through.”


Allan Moore

“It doesn’t matter who owns the property. Though shall not touch the mounds that are on your property. It is for the people and government of Belize. We as the Institute of Archeology are trustees; the people put that as trustees for us to protect. Just as the police; the people trust them to put law and order, people put we as archeologists to govern and to manage these sites for all of us—for the people of Belize, for Belize.”


Mike Rudon

“I see you come up with an eleventh commandment there just now.”


Allan Moore

“Yes, I have to do it. I feel passionate about it. And I’m not too happy about it. I’m not too happy.”


And to make an already deplorable situation worse, Awe says the damage to the site will make it near impossible to get grants from donors to preserve other sites, when our very own people are destroying them. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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41 Responses for “Important Maya monument is savaged; U.D.P. political aspirant is responsible”

  1. Paco Smith says:

    This is a damn shame! There is absolutely no plausible excuse for such wanton disregard for our nation’s history and culture.

    I say, throw the entire book at the perpetrator…and then some!

  2. Rod says:

    This is what this udp pm and gov are all about nothing but corruption and destruction of civil society and of the country itself. Guannnnnnnnn. Judas barrow guannnnnnnnnnn

  3. Whappy says:

    And again, these people are not ‘Normal’ people in Belize ! All this fussing and bickering, and I guarantee you wont hear anything from the Prime minister, and nothing will ever be done and the perpetrators laugh and giggle all the way to the bank. Rosewood selling, Iand giveaways to family & friends, awarding government contracts to friends and family, appointing family members to ambassador positions, national monument destruction, etc. man, its like these people have no soul. But as I said, we wont stand up, we to busy with the Unibam distraction, so nothing will be done about it, and its business as usual tomorrow.

  4. Al says:

    How can a society whose leaders are suppose to uphold the right of the contry expect for the youth to live lawful lives. Our children are seeing the disregard the adults in power have for the country and the lives of the people so why should they care. God please send us honest, and true leaders.

    In the midst of all the corruption, there is the UNIBAM, sodomy garbage that these nasty people are fighting to have rights to do. I pray that they are not given recognition, let them fornicate without any legal recognition. To recognize this awful thing is to tell God we don’t care what you say, we will do what we like. Please let us stop this horrible mess that has come to this country.

  5. NY says:

    This revelation shine the light on how ignorant or greedy some people are in the jewel. There is no recovering of these RUINS, therefore the GOB needs to set a marker and punish the perpetrator/s to the fullest extent of the law, so as to prevent future MISGUIDED individuals from ever doing something like this again.

  6. Red Bear says:

    I hope the archaeologists will follow through with the matter, if they are the trustees of our historic culture. Everyone involved in this atrocity deserves, NEEDS to be in prison, from top to bottom. An example must be set, or it will be repeated.

    We can;t trust the GOB to do the job of protecting it, because Ministers like Vega and Saldivar reason, like with the rosewood, “Well, the damage is done, we can’t cry over spilled milk — so let’s make some money from it!” And, of course, our PM approves all the theft from his throne on high.

    Put them in prison, yes, but they must also be prevented from profiting a penny from the crime. REMOVE ALL OF THE ROADFILL THAT THEY USED FROM THE SITE, SO IT CAN NEVER BE USED TO FILL IN POTHOLES. Even if it just sits in a pile, it will foil their greed, and serve as a reminder to the whole country what thieves some of their neighbors can be, so we can all be on the alert in the future.

    This act is like what the Taliban and Al-Qaeda do elsewhere — who needs foreign terrorists when we have our own?

    As for candidate Grijalva? I VOTE PRISON FOR HIM!

  7. Gerald Underwood says:

    Fine the ………. revoked his !@#$%^& license and put there …. @$$#$ in prison really irresponsible and unacceptable they should burn his bulldozers and any other equipments. They use

  8. Eric says:

    This will play out something like this… The government will confiscate the road fill aggregate or the whole road that the material was used on then a month from now they will get Grijalva company D-Mar’s to sell it off and pocket half of the profit and then all of this ugly business will be forgotten. “There is something behind the throne greater than the King himself”. Truer words were never spoken as we will once again hear nothing but silence from our puppet prime minister. This administration is a George Bush and Dick Cheney administration; Barrow will finally make a matter of fact statement two months from now at some totally unrelated press conference and he will try to sound smart while lying and trying to hold in his incessant “I can believe how stupid the Belizean people are” grin and Vega whispering in his ear “Dean this is what you will say to these idiots”. I have bad news for Moore, Awe and the Belizean people; in the minds of these kings and rulers this non-issue is already forgotten because they know that there isn’t anything we can or will do about the rape of our nation al heritage. This is life in Belize today and we all need not waste our time worrying about the rape of our nation. Vega must be wondering how much he can get for the barrier reef and the property that the National Assembly Building stands on. These respectable criminals must have a scorched earth policy as they are like blue koncas what they can eat they will spoil.

  9. junito says:

    Thier is no Belizeaness in a man such as Denny Grijalva. He is not even a born Belizean so he does not feel anything for Belize other than the money he can make. He was a fake pastor and used that boat to sail to political opportunities. Sad that our representatives still support such a leech and glitch in the system

  10. junito says:

    There is no Belizeaness in a man such as Denny Grijalva. He is not even a born Belizean so he does not feel anything for Belize other than the money he can make. He was a fake pastor and used that boat to sail to political opportunities. Sad that our representatives still support such a leech and glitch in the system

  11. alejandro hernandez says:

    vega knew about it,grijalva could not have gone there by his own it is the deputy pm gaspar vega constituency no? and the soil that was detroyed by denny grijalva machines are to being used to fix roads by douglas vllage.gapi vega area. MEK HIM PAY $10.000 IS NOTING FOR HIM MEK HIM GO DA JAIL TOOOOOOOOOO.because noting will bring bak wat has beed damaged/destroyed.

  12. dalmi says:

    vega knew about it,grijalva could not have gone there by his own it is the deputy pm gaspar vega constituency no? and the soil that was detroyed by denny grijalva machines are to being used to fix roads by douglas vllage.gapi vega area. MEK HIM PAY $10.000 IS NOTING FOR HIM MEK HIM GO DA JAIL TOOOOOOOOOO.because noting will bring bak wat has beed damaged/destroyed.

  13. lucas says:

    It just came in the internet, 3am, for the world to see. Mr. Moore has said it for all of us: DEPLORABLE AND UNFORGIVING. There are no words to express our total sadness and profund indignity towards these people who for the love of a dollar would cause such reckless destruction. What makes it much more heart-breaking is the thought that since the perpetrators are UDPs, nothing will happen. The time is fast approching to destroy those who destroy our country. Mr. Grijalva: you have joined the list of those who we will not forget for the damage and the pain caused to the people of Belize.

  14. E.P says:

    I remember this site as the palm of my hands, it used to be our play ground and camping place :( . About 10 years ago, the first pyramid was destroyed when Servulo Baeza was the Mininster of OW North, (Reason: fix roads in the surrounding villages). Nothing was done before, however, it is not an excuse that someone will continue destroying our patrimony. Therefore, all the ones involve should be taken to court. Question: How comes the Village Council from San Jose and San Pablo were not aware of this?

  15. Gimme Some Truth says:

    more UPD at work.
    anything left they will leave for the Guats.

  16. Nimbo says:

    Man this sucks. Makes us look so stupid on the international scene…. Thanks you belizean politicians.

  17. Geo says:

    Swift Action has to be taken… This our Natural And Cultural Heritage.. This is irreplaceable.. It saddens my heart to see such devastation to a well know site. ( Nohmul ) Belizean’s let’s take a stand to this. 

  18. Mad says:

    THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST DESTRUCTIONS TO BELIZEAN HERITAGE. Those who did it have no regard for anything other than MONEY. GREED is what drove them to destroy over a thousand year old man-made structure. Mr. Grijalva should be dumped in jail. I can’t belive Barrow hasnt said anything about this destruction, not even the ministry of Culture because they are all one family. This UDP government is destroying Belize from roosewood to now archaeological sites that attract tourists to Belize. SHAME SHAME SHAME on Grijalva . I hope no body hires his construction company so he goes bankrupt.

  19. Luis says:

    What a shame, but it continues as stupid can stupid be…….where are tyhe inspectors on the road way, where is the presence of department of natural resources that grants permits on roadways impacts or non was obtained, where is the ministry of roads they must have inspectors to know better…….the contractor should have his license revoked unconditionally and fines impose as responsible for his actions and get his bond performance money along with company assets this is GREED in the biggest form…..a site that its irreplaceable…

    The problem relies not only on the contractor but the ministry in charge for not having inspectors when these can be funded from permits requirements.

    Any where in the world you touch a historical site and your dammed but most likely in Belize the responsible will get a slap on the wrist……so sad…….issues with dragging on the island and not historical monuments what next……

  20. Louisville,Ky says:

    In the Jewel, apparently all the masses have, is their say, because it is for sure that the powerful minority have had and, continues to have their way.
    Mark my words, nothing will come out of this travesty; Nothing! Nekat, Nada!

  21. raelly says:

    confiscate the fake pastor/politician equipment and stone him with the stones from the monument

  22. Jose G Acosta says:

    Four days and counting…Dean Barrow I can hear a pin drop…..

  23. Phillipa says:

    This is sad and it makes me mad as hell come on people Vaga know about that probably was playing the same game he and his family did in placencia. this will just be push aside unless we the people continue to make noise and keep looking out. I have to ask myself what next mayan site, rose wood, reserve land what next ???

  24. haha says:

    We all say ” they” are the problems. But indeed” we” are the problem. Because we new them for
    5 yrs and still we vote them in. Come new election, we will go again and vote for them. everybody just talk but noting is done. they will never stop the evil destroying belize and its people

  25. Frank says:

    “The site is located on private land…”

    Sorry I have to be the one to say it, but that’s the way it goes. If the Belizian government or anyone else actually cared enough about these 2300-year-old piles of bricks, they should have lobbied the Belizian government to have the site declared a protected historic monument or something decades ago and not left the ancient construction to face daily peril on private land. Sure, it’s easy to get all hopping-mad now, after the site has been destroyed, but how ’bout looking in the mirror and admitting that you either didn’t know anything about them before you heard this story, or didn’t care enough about them to address the problem before they were destroyed?

    Move forward: If you care enough to do something and you know of any remaining ruins that are sitting on private land that you think should be protected, take action to protect them now instead of wasting time lamenting these (and, let’s face it, pursuing political agendas – there’s obviously some of that going on here by some parties too) that were lost due to inaction.

  26. Frank says:

    “The site is located on private land…”

    How many other sites are sitting unprotected on private land?

  27. Squier says:

    Noh Mul’s destruction is shocking and contemptible. The landowner and contractor have created an unbelievable monument of greed and shame for themselves. The names, of those responsible for the destruction, should be inscribed on the remains so they are not forgotten and forever shamed. It is obvious the landowner is not deserving to maintain stewardship of this site. May justice be served to the full extent.

  28. LA Gyal says:

    Why am I not surprised that this happened … SMH …This is ridiculous !!!! Belize Government Failed again !!! How could the belizean Government allow this to happen ?? First of all even if this Maya ruin was located on private property …The government should have laws in place to protect the ruins thus making the area a national park or whatnot .. or the government should have seized that parcel of land because of this Mayan ruin being there to prevent something like this from happening…. Not sure if the contractors are Belizeans or not but it is apparent they don’t care as along as they get paid … There really need to be stiff laws or penalties given to all involved int he destruction of historical sites …The whole world now knows about the destruction of this Maya ruin in Belize .. Belize is under watchful again .. Now people will wonder what the heck will happen now …

  29. Gerald Underwood says:

    The problem in Belize also is that. Most people don’t respect or care about others culture am sure the !@#$ was bulldoze by am born belizean employee of the said company revoke there license fine those responsible confiscate there equipment and put them in prison we should start having some riot so that. The government could know that they !@#$%^& up big so shocking I saw the news first here in California before seeing it on Belize news

  30. Concerned Belizean says:

    Only in Belize! Wow, What a Shame! These people are Deplorable and Disgusting. Hope Justice is done here. I have a checklist of all the sites I wanted to visit this year, I am at 10 and now I have to scratch one from the list (Noh Mul). Hurts a lot, like salt and pepper on a fresh wound. UGGGHHHH!!!!!

  31. Rough says:

    I thought Mr Barrow would have been a good leader of this country; but just talk, talk and talk, using big words but achieves nothing. He is been ruled by his ministers. IF YOU ARE A TRUE LEADER, DO SOMETHING NOW. I want to see politicians in jail.

  32. Joe S. says:

    A few years back, Dr. Awe gave me a tour of an incredible Mayan historical site. He talked of his frustration over the damage done by ignorant 19th & 20th century archaeologists and of the amount of work to reverse a tiny fraction of it. I can’t imagine the pain his team feels to learn that, in the 21st century, persons from Belize are erasing their own past.
    A man who obliterates the past of his people should spend his future comtemplating his ignorance inside of a jail cell.

  33. Joe S. says:

    A few years ago I came to Belize from California to see the awesome examples of ancient Mayan works. Dr. Awe gave me a tour of an incredible Mayan historical site. He talked of his frustration over the damage done by ignorant 19th & 20th century archaeologists and of the amount of work to reverse a tiny fraction of it. I can’t imagine the pain his team feels to learn that, in the 21st century, persons from Belize are erasing their own past.
    A man who obliterates the past of his people should spend his future comtemplating his ignorance inside of a jail cell.

  34. Corozal Buay says:

    Fruta Bomba destroyed several ruins when they built their new fancy new headquarters outside of San Joaquin Village in Corozal District and nothing was ever done about it.

    They are also processing papayas in a former Meth Lab. That might be why so many of the workers get sick. A building used to process Meth can never be totally cleansed.

    Same way this incident will be forgotten by most Belizeans the first weekend there is a big dance.

  35. Chico Grande says:

    I see there is still some confusion over the “ownership” of ruins, ancient or historic, on “private” versus “public” lands. It was made quite explicit in the article that NO ruins, ancient or historic, shall be disturbed in any manner. They are the patrimony of ALL Belizean’s, and as such belong to Belize, not any “private land” owner. Only archaeologists, who have been vetted and given a permit by the Institute of Archaeology of the National Institute of Culture and History may conduct prescribed investigations at such sites. The designation of sites as “protected” on private lands would be redundant. The site is already protected by legal Act’s of Belize. Unless of course, any Belizean would be willing to voluntarily donate the portion of their private land on which a site occupies. There is no confusion here. And ignorance of the law is no defense in any democracy that practicess jurisprudence. No, there is only one conclusion to come to from those that “defend” the destruction of Noh Mul as a right within a private landowner, they are defending Grijalva, and any and all of his associates. They are muddying the waters in attempt to let Grijalva off the hook. No dice. This is a national disaster and an international embarrassment. Under Belizean law, the landowner is responsible for the protection of any ancient or historic site on his or her lands. Grijalva should pay, and must pay, for his blatant disregard for Belizean law. A law unenforced is no law at all. It would be a greater embarrassment for Belize internationally if the world found out that Belize is a land of lawlessness.

  36. ed says:

    The country of Belize has so many reasons after the rosewood, the illegal immigration, and now the no mul to reject the UDP on the village council elections. we only have two political parties in Belize one that is bad and one that is worse which one will you all support.

  37. Axel Enzo says:

    this is the world’s heritage and not only that of Belize. this is a crime of an international scale.

  38. dnc185 says:

    This is outrageous to think that at this time and age someone would damage a world heritage and part of the Belizean Culture dating back millenias. Anyway, it wasn’t even a Belizean that did it but rather a corrupt man that uses God and politics for his criminal agenda to make a dollar in any which way. Guatemala has invaded and destroyed! Don’t be surprise to know that nothing might happen to him or his company for this blatant destruction of the Mayan Temple. He might even be given Ambassador to to Guatemala, home, like the previous temple raider and destroyer, Amb. Fred Martinez. Julian Patt from San Estevan Village, DPM home, has done it in the past and nothing happened.

  39. sam dow says:

    On CNN USA go to link, change the ministers in the north or Barrow will pay big time come next elections

  40. marco says:

    dont blem the people of belize,i think it is the goverment allowing this to happend,the goverment should penalize that contractor .to bad for the country bad reputation.for the goverment.

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