Posted: Friday, November 8, 2019. 7:38 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Former Executive Director of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), Gregory Ch’oc, is back in Belize after five years away studying law.
Today, he was called to join the legal fraternity before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, supported by former Prime Minister and Senior Counsel, Said W. Musa.
But Ch’oc, who studied at the Cave Hill, Barbados campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Norman Manley Law School in Kingston, Jamaica, is most looking forward to coming home to Punta Gorda and the Toledo District. “My intention now is to return to Punta Gorda, put out my shingle and see how it goes, because that’s where I have my roof, made my home,” he told us, adding that he will be practicing generally, both civil and criminal law.
In 2013 when Ch’oc first announced his plans, some in his community worried that he was abandoning the Maya cause for communal property, which was affirmed in the Caribbean Court of Justice two years later.
Now he is back for good and to help, he says: “Today is a testimony that I’m back, and more prepared and have a greater appreciation of the law, to help [with] the issues that I was involved with prior to my departure. Certainly, having a greater, deeper understanding of the law does give you a better appreciation of guiding the communities in all the efforts they may want to pursue.”
And Ch’oc is not worried about any “political taint” from the support of Musa and current People’s United Party leader John Briceño who was also present. He said his work prior to leaving for the University of the West Indies speaks volumes to his principles and his new profession further fortifies this for him.
For his part, Briceño commended Ch’oc as a key ally from his time in Government, in the Ministry of Natural Resources, and beyond, and said he was “proud… happy and excited” for his choice to do something different after his time as an activist. “I expect great things from him; I expect the very same kind of advocacy that he had before he became a lawyer, now that he is an attorney.”
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