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Jul 23, 2013

SATIIM and communities file injunction to stop oil exploration

One of the largest environmental groups is taking government to court. The Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management known as SATIIM and four Mayan communities in the Temash National Park buffer zone are taking on the oil company, U.S. Capital Energy, for exploration works being conducted within the park. SATIIM is responsible for the management of the national park and is the legal representative of the communities that are joining it in the legal action.  The group claims that the company is preparing to drill for oil within the national park, and not only that, but has constructed a massive access road leading to that drill site within the park. The action was filed on Monday and today, SATIIM, APAMO and the four communities were at a press briefing in Punta Gorda to explain why they are taking a stand against the oil company and against the government. The group claims that oil drilling in the national park is unlawful and contrary to the National Parks Act and the Petroleum Act.  Mike Rudon was there and has the story.


Today the conference room in Punta Gorda office of the Social Security Board was packed with villagers from the Mayan communities who came to lend voices of support to their leaders who are preparing to wage legal war on US Capital Energy and the Government of Belize. The focus of the outrage is a drilling site, A1, which has been prepared within the park, and to add insult to injury, a massive access road which was constructed well within the boundaries of the park.


Cordelia Requeña, Environmental Program Manager

“Another infraction that was noticed within the national park was the construction of an access road from the Sunday Wood junction all the way to sight A1 as indicated in the E.C.P. The entire length of the road is 4.8 miles starting from the Sunday Wood junction leading up to 2 acre drill pad within the national park.”


One by one the alcaldes and leaders of CriqueSarco, Conejo, Graham Creek and Midway stood to state the position of their villages. They spoke in Maya but even without the assistance of the translator the messages were clear – they do not oppose development, but want to have a say in it. They do not want to hear any promises…they want concrete agreements in black and white and they do not believe that common labor provided to some villagers is real development. These leaders spoke on behalf of their people, and they were angry.


A large part of that anger comes from a sense of injustice. The Mayas feel that their people have been kept out of the SATIIM national park, while US Capital Energy is being given the green light to operate on that land. Chairman of APAMO Edilberto Romero shares that outrage, along with SATIIM’s Greg Choc.


Greg Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM

“We have been forced to take this action. Over the last ten months SATIIM and the communities have witnessed blatant disregard for the rule of law. Our environmental laws have been violated, our rights have been violated, and we have been ignored on our Maya customary titled land which also includes lands inside the national park. SATIIM and the communities were never conducted on the E.I.A. and when we handed in our one opportunity to express our concern to the government of Belize and the U.S. Capital Energy our voices were suppressed.”


Edilberto Romero, Chairman, APAMO

Edilberto Romero

“National parks for example as was mentioned by one of the community leaders has been set aside and it has kept people like the Mayans of Toledo out of those national parks. Because national parks does not allow certain extracting activities. But yet they turn around and they gave permit to U.S. Capital to go in and do the same things they don’t want the communities to do; now I think that is wrong.”


And because it is wrong, the Mayan leaders have decided to stand with SATIIM and to fight.


Greg Ch’oc

“For ten months SATIIM and the communities of the Sarstoon Temash region have relentlessly have the government of Belize address our concerns rising from the U.S. Capital Energy’s oil development concession. The government has refused to recognize SATIIM and the communities concerns. Therefore we have turned to the court and have filed a claim based on our environmental law and the rights of the indigenous people of the Sarstoon Temash region.”


Among other things, Mayan leaders are asking the court to permanently injunct the defendants from proceeding with oil drilling or any related activities in the national park.


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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5 Responses for “SATIIM and communities file injunction to stop oil exploration”

  1. corruption officers RULE! says:

    These funny people down south, just because they are citizens they think they have some say so.
    Next they will believe the government should obey the law.

    They should be on their knees thanking the hard working GOB corruption officers and their Hefe patrons.

    So what ruins are being bulldozed and its their ancient heritage; they never saw them built.
    Or that running them over by drunk GOB drivers in GOB vehicles has no downside.

    They must learn to shut up and go back to their dirt floor huts and eat coconuts.
    They are upsetting the canoe for all righteous Belizeans.

  2. Eddie says:

    Hey Barrow while you are at it get Vega to have one of his family members who are all of a sudden in the construction business to tear down a Maya ruin to use as top fill for the access roads and you all can build rose wood dwellings for the oil rig workers. I hope you blind stiff necked fools one day open your eyes and see what motivates your government. Ask them to feed the poor, stand up for morality, save our national heritage, reduce crime and the rampant unemployment that contributes to the crime and all you will hear is the deafening silence from the halls of power in Belmopan. But talk about nationalization of companies, drawn out litigation, deforestation for rose wood that yields the Belizean people pennies on the dollar, oil exploration, road construction of a deputy P.M. street with public funds, cartel hits on gang members and setting up of a national bank to launder it all and then all of a sudden our P.M has a voice, all of a sudden he cares about and is knowledgeable about the state of the country as it relates to “H.I.S” (His Imperial Sovereigns) money… I guess it’s true what they say money talks and bullsh@t walks in this case it gets bullsh@t to talk. But I guess the only pertinent questions are who would be the people that would stand to benefit from a possible oil strike by U.S. Capital Energy and the other oil companies? And why is Vega’s family touring the oil operations in our neighboring countries? The answer is simple if you rule out the Country of Belize and the Belizean people. This UNIBAM issue could not have come to prominence at a more opportune time for these money grubbing leeches. So go ahead Belize fight over two men screwing each other while your government screws us all they are counting on you to be distracted sheep’s.

  3. Joel says:

    They forgot to mention how many millions USCapital spent on their schools roads bridges making it possible for them to attend this meeting after all the rain in PG.

  4. Joel says:

    They forgot to mention the millions US Capital put into their schools roads bridges making it possible for them to attend this meeting after these heavy rains in PG

  5. venus says:

    Good luck SATIM. GOB does not understand your language. The only language GOB understands is a massive march on Belmopan. Same circus only different attorney stars. When UDP is in government Pup attorneys and vice versa. We tend to forget that the present PM was once the attorney for these same organizations. Anywhere in the world where there is oil political corruption causes some form of arm conflict or arm rebellion. I can see them fast approaching Belize

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