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Maya villagers appear to win Jalacte land rights case

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Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2021. 11:23 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Maya villagers in Jalacte who took their case to the Supreme Court concerning compensation for land possessed by Government to build the village’s connection to the San Antonio Road and Southern Highway appear to have won.

A formal briefing by videoconference will be held this afternoon at 2:30 p.m., hosted by The Toledo Alcaldes Association and the Maya Leaders Alliance.

Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana’s beginning to the conclusion to the case as cited by the MLA/TAA reads: “This case should never have arisen. The Defendants were aware of the Maya customary land tenure along the route of the road in Jalacte; they were aware that agricultural lands would be damaged, and compensation would be needed; they were aware of the Maya fears that the new road would increase pressure on their lands tenure by outsiders; and they were aware that it was a constitutional violation to ignore Maya customary rights.”

From that reading it appears that the MLA/TAA have asserted victory. It is not clear whether Government is aware of the result or plans to appeal it; however, Minister responsible for Indigenous People’s Affairs Dolores Balderamos Garcia has signalled a more constructive approach to working with the Maya to resolve the issue of communal land rights than the previous administration.

A compliance hearing on the 2016 order of the Caribbean Court of Justice in relation to Maya land rights is also in progress and, says the MLA/TAA, this will also be addressed in the press conference.

We will have the result of that briefing later on.

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