By Aaron Humes: Several Belizean organizations representing indigenous Maya have allied with their counterparts in the southern Petén of Guatemala in order to address improved management of natural resources and most pressing social and economic needs of residents in the Adjacency Zone straddling the Belize-Guatemala border.
The new alliance, called the Council of Mayan Communities, was formed on 18 March in the margins of the Third Meeting of Indigenous Peoples as part of a project sponsored by the British Embassy in Guatemala and other international donors.
Belizean organizations participating include the Association of Community Mayors of Toledo (which represents 39 communities) and the Maya Leaders Alliance as well as Association Balam; the Inter Sectoral Table of Land and Environment; Friends of Conservation and Development (FCD), the Commonwealth of Counties of the South of Peten, and local NGO Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE).
The Council also seeks to create strong relationships between the communities living in both countries, and presents common proposals to the authorities with the aim of addressing the challenges the Adjacency Zone faces.
The Government of the United Kingdom has sponsored projects to help communities in southern Petén implement the agreements reached by the governments of Guatemala and Belize. This will improve mutual cooperation in economic, social and educational issues within the context of the roadmap and help towards achieving a lasting resolution to the territorial dispute.
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