Thursday, February 10, 2011

'To drill for oil is contempt of court' Maya leader states

The Mayan Leaders Alliance speak out against oil drilling in the Toledo District and declare their defiance to protect their lands.

Cristina Coc, member of the Mayan Leaders Alliance was interviewed on national radio yesterday, 9th February 2011.  She called into question the legality of proposed development in the area and called for public support in the protection of the land and Mayan rights.
"We have been seeing... concessions being granted on Maya land, particularly in areas in Southern Belize that have been named by the Supreme Court as lands that are used and occupied by Mayan people. We thought that it was necessary... to point out that Government has no legal authority to allow oil activity on our lands, particularly because of the injunction that was granted by the Supreme Court on June 28th of last year.
"If permission was given and Companies began to drill for oil or there was any activity, the Government would be in contempt of Court. And we would certainly make sure that we follow through with that. It would be violating the orders of the Supreme Court of Belize.
"We are not saying no development or no exploration. What we are saying is that for any of these activities to happen, whether it be drilling for oil, whether it be any kind of resource extraction, or any kind of development on lands that our people live, it has to be a situation where both Government and the Maya people make those decisions together and sit at equal ends of the table. It can't be that Government makes those decisions without informed consent of the people or without any kind of agreement between both parties. We have to begin to sit together and come to some kind of resolution.
"We'd certainly like to also expect support along with the Environmental Organization, to help in championing the cause against oil exploration in protected areas. We feel that it's not just Mayan Land. It's also those areas that have been protected. So we stand in solidarity with organizations like APAMO...  we feel that as Maya people we've always stood against social injustice, and we agree with them.  We agree that it's time for us to stand up with the people and resist where there is an injustice."
A complete transcript of the interview is available at Love FM

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