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Posted: Friday, November 1, 2019. 8:32 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit for damages a few weeks ago filed by then alcalde of the village of Santa Cruz, Toledo, Manuel Pop, against the Government of Belize and resident Rupert Myles for damages in respect of two incidents in 2015.

Myles and residents of Santa Cruz got into an altercation following reported damage to the Uxbenka archaeological site in the village, where Myles was building; they captured, bound and paraded him through the village before evicting him.

Later, authorities raided villagers’ homes during an operation and arrested 13 in addition to the Maya Leaders’ Alliance spokesperson Cristina Coc; their charges were later withdrawn.

But Justice Michelle Arana ruled that Myles was not acting as an agent of the state and therefore was not liable.

While in the City for the Caribbean Court of Justice status update on the 2015 land rights case, Coc told reporters that while they await the process of delimiting and defining Maya communal lands, there should be a cease and desist from allowing any new developments in areas that are deemed indigenous lands, citing the consent order.

Coc said, “…the government’s failure to clearly define and delimit the territory that has raised the question of whether or not trespass can be determined.  I will give you my opinion and the opinion of the Maya people, is such that this paragraph four of the consent order was in fact there in order to put in interim measures as we wait for the implementation.  Until such time that Maya land rights have been protected through new legislation there is a measure to cease and desist from granting any further development on Maya lands that might seek to interfere with the use and enjoyment of those lands.”

There is no indication on whether the case will be appealed.

 

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