Monday, May 19, 2014. JUAN CAAL Reporting: The village of Big Falls in the Toledo district has indicated that it wants to opt out of a communal land case brought to the Supreme Court by Maya villages of the Toledo district in 2008.
At a meeting on Sunday afternoon, strong objections were raised by villagers of Big Falls to the inclusion of their community in the claim, allegedly without their consent, because there was no prior consultation.
The meeting was called by the chairman of the village Roberto Coh for the expressed objective of finding out what is Communal Land Rights and what are the processes involved.
Various speakers were invited to make presentations, including representatives of the Maya Leaders Alliance, the Toledo Alcaldes Association and the attorney for the Maya communities of the Toledo district Antionette Moore.
After the various presentations, villagers of Big Falls were even more convinced that they did not want to be part of the Communal Land Rights judgment, saying that they did not give their free, prior and informed consent to take the matter to the Supreme Court in 2008.
Spokesperson for the Maya Leaders Alliance Cristina Coc says she was astounded to learn that there are Maya people living in Big Falls village who are not practicing Maya Customary Use of the land they occupy.
Coc noted that even though Big Falls was included in the judgment handed down in 2008, the village did not submit an affidavit in the case.
Now, Coc believes that if Big Falls wants out of the judgment, then the matter should be put to a meeting of the entire village of close to 3,000 inhabitants and the majority decision be taken forward.
Coc believes that there are other agendas at work in the decision of Big Falls to withdraw from the communal land rights judgment saying that during Sunday’s meeting she did not hear many questions and concerns being raised from Big Falls residents, but from other people from other areas of the Toledo district who are clearly not in favor of communal land rights.
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