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Jul 31, 2013

MLA Meets With Leaders from Mayan Communities

The Maya Leaders Alliance has issued its first statement on the customary land rights case, since the Court of Appeal handed down a split decision in the matter last Thursday.  The statement succeeds a meeting held with village leaders from all thirty-eight Maya communities in the south.  The ruling was delivered by President Manuel Sosa whose views differed from the two other justices—Justice Dennis Morrison and Justice Brian Alleyne. The split decision re-affirms both the decision of the Supreme Court on two occasions, as well as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  In 2007 and 2010, the then Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh ruled that Maya customary land rights exist in all the Maya villages in Toledo District and gives rise to collective and individual property rights. Despite the reaffirmation of customary land rights, the M.L.A. has expressed disappointment that the appellate court failed to recognize the unfairness that government has caused them to experience by rejecting the validity of their customary rights for many years.  Present at Monday’s meeting were over three hundred men and women from across Toledo.  According to Cristina Coc, the occasion was also used to discuss with MLA’s membership the withdrawal of a contempt application against government.


Via Phone: Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance

Cristina Coc

“The result of that meeting was a strong sentiment that while we have received an affirmation of our rights to the lands that we use there was a unanimous endorsement that we go forward to appeal the sections of the decision that removes government’s obligation to protect our rights and grant titles, that we appeal that part of the decision before the Caribbean Court of Justice.  Again, this was a unanimous decision from the leaders in the Toledo District, both alcaldes and village council leaders were at this meeting, along with the other members of the Maya villages that hold leadership positions in one form or the other.  We are certainly moving ahead as a united people and we are going to do whatever it takes to continue to fight for the rights of our people, for the protection of our rights and for our Maya people to continue to live in a way that is honorable, in a way that is dignified and in a way that we can continue to live off our land.  We learned from the Court of Appeal that they basically said that while we do have rights as indigenous people to the lands that we use and occupy, that the government does not have an obligation to protect those rights and to provide paper titles to the lands that we use and occupy.  That came with a lot of disappointment to the Maya people.  We continue to ask the question, “well if we have rights, who is there to protect our rights?”  We are Belizeans like everybody else and we deserve equal protection like every other Belizean.  Nevertheless, we felt that because, as a result of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, we decided that it was best to invest our limited resources and energy in the way forward, in looking at how we’re going to now approach our land rights situation, our land rights and tenure situation and insecurity.”

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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4 Responses for “MLA Meets With Leaders from Mayan Communities”

  1. Belizean says:

    Sounds like the Mayans are Super People, way above any other tribe and tongue. How is it that they need such a special care? Why would the GOB do anything for them if they say ” we are our own people, we can do what we want, everything Belize and GOB does is wrong, we override all rights”!

  2. Bzean!! says:

    16.-(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (4), (5) and (7) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.

    (2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (6), (7) and (8) of this section, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person or authority.

    (3) In this section, the expression “discriminatory” means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by sex, race, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.

    —-Based on the constitution of the country if GOB – give the Mayas those specific rights, GOB will be discriminating against the other ethnic groups in this country!!!!

    We are all belizeans — we all should enjoy the entire country — Free to live anywhere — Free to be anywhere..

  3. Belizean can't read says:

    Just like most Belizeans, they have been played by a worthless government giving them worthless contracts. They just want what the courts have said is fair.

    @Belizean, you don’t live down there, you seem to be clueless. They want stewardship of the land, to be able to hunt in national forests or cut a tree for personal use.

    Compare that to: here comes an oil well next to your village, noisy, cancerous, but you get a six months of work at dirt wages. Everything clear cut by outsiders with or without a valid permit, who leave tomorrow to take the money out of the country or buy another SUV for their land in Cayo. This is good for you, take the money and die.

    The fact they want to stick together and organize for their future, does make them different from most Belizeans.

    Most Belizeans have got to “Please Masser Barrow, give me a pence” or “I have no backbone, I do nothing, so Massers Gaspar and Erwin can steal from me, I laugh, and give then two pence and my children’s future”.

    It is not that they are way above any other tribe and tongue, it that the rest of the country has fallen down as cowards and criminals.

  4. PgGial says:

    Why are the Mayans acting like victims? Why should they be held to a higher standard than any other Belizean? Does this mean that all the Mayans should be sent to live in their respective villages and vacate lands that they have taken up in urban areas? What does Cristina Coc mean when she talks about her people living in an honorable way? The sanitation in those areas are horrifying…maybe rather than fighting for special treatment from government, Cristina Coc and Greg Choc should teach their folks basic sanitation.

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