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Mar 18, 2014

SATIIM takes U.S. Capital to court to stop pre-drilling activities in national park

The Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, SATIIM, is heading back to court, despite a pending decision on an ongoing suit against the Government of Belize.  Last Wednesday, SATIIM filed for an injunction to halt pre-drilling activities conducted by U.S. Capital Energy within the Sarstoon-Temash National Park.  This, notwithstanding a judgment on a related matter to be handed down by Justice Michelle Arana, according to SATIIM, is unlawful.  The oil company, it says, should suspend activities until the current issue is resolved since it contravenes the National Parks System Act and the Rights of the Indigenous Communities.   In spite of letters being sent to the Attorney General’s ministry that no drilling would be done before March 2014, U.S. Capital has proceeded with its work.  In responding to SATIIM’s concern, U.S. Capital’s attorney says, (Quote) “Needless to say, though there is no injunction in place and your clients abandoned their injunction claims, the company will not commence actual drilling unless the court allows it to.” (Unquote)  News Five spoke by phone with SATIIM’S Community Organizer, Martin Cus.


Via phone:

Martin Cus, Community Organizer, SATIIM

“To begin with, since October 23rd, 2013, the argument ended and out of that the judge reserved her judgment and it happened that at this time U.S. Capital went ahead and [proceeded] to intensify their activities, hence the reason why the leaders came together, looking at the monitoring.  They looked at it as U.S. Capital going ahead and looking at that they filed an apparent injunction, you know.”


Isani Cayetano

“In terms of the activity that is currently taking place in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park, can you give us a description of what is happening on the ground?”


Martin Cus

“On the monitoring of the U.S. Capital activities the leaders went in there and they observed that there are many heavy machines that moved in there since the month of November of last year.  In the month of December they observed that they started to begin the pre-drilling, you know.”


Isani Cayetano

“So the activity that is taking place there, in the opinion of SATIIM, is that it is unlawful, as it goes contrary to awaiting the decision from the Supreme Court on the matter?”


Martin Cus

“Yes, indeed.  It is unlawful because the judge hasn’t given its decision whether it’s in favor of SATIIM or in favor of the government.  But the thing is that U.S. Capital went ahead and started to do all the preparations for this drilling.”


Isani Cayetano

“If the injunction is not successful is there any other legal recourse that can be sought to deal with this matter?”


Martin Cus

“Well the other option is that the leaders will be able to appear on the national radio and TV to advocate for their rights, you know.”


The injunction was filed on March twelfth.

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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