Urge Belize to Support Maya Land Rights
We are calling upon the Belize government to withdraw its appeal of the Supreme Court's ruling on June 28, 2010 that reaffirmed the Constitutional Land Rights of the Maya People.
The entire Indigenous population of Belize has depended on the land since time immemorial for food, shelter and clothing, as well as their culture and religious practices. However, in recent generations, that dependency has been under constant threat of unsustainable large scale logging, oil and gas explorers, hydro-electric companies and commercial resort developers
As a consequence of this, the Maya are increasingly faced with the possibly of displacement from their lands and the irrevocable loss of their identity, economic well-being and way of life.
We believe Justice Conteh, an acting representative of the Crown, was correct to assert that the Maya hold communal land rights and enjoy the same Constitutional protections as the rest the country.
Without this protection, the Maya's future as Indigenous Peoples is grim at best.
We also note that these same land rights have been recognized by the Supreme Courts of more than a dozen countries, and meet the standards of international law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, to which Belize is a signatory.
We further Encourage the Government to accept the Maya's invitation for a peaceful dialogue.
No matter how the Courts have ruled in the past or may rule in the future, dialogue is essential for building a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship with the Maya People.
It is also understood that the Maya do not truely wish to break off from the State or undermine the country's economic security. These are tragic mischaracterizations. Rather, they are seeking only to secure their own future, and preserve their land and way of life for future generations.
Read some backstory courtesy of First Peoples Worldwide
Watch an 8-minute film of the Maya celebrating in honour of the ruling
Write your own letter to: Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, at firstname.lastname@example.org