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Belize Tourism Board removes references to Maya temples amid land rights battle

Posted: Saturday, July 17, 2021. 12:23 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Belize Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism have decided to remove all references to the past Maya civilization from its website and possibly marketing materials.

According to Acting Director of Tourism Evan Tillett, speaking to Channel 7 News, the Board made the decision in the context of the ongoing effort to enforce the April 2015 Consent Order of the Caribbean Court of Justice concerning communal land rights in Maya villages in Toledo District, whose recognized Maya sites include Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit and Uxbenka.

However the removal affects sites across the country from Altun Ha, Lamanai and Cerros in the North to Xunantunich, Caracol and Cahal Pech in the west.

Tillett said the decision was made in the interest of limiting Government liability, though there is a question of who controls access into and management of these properties. Currently that is the Institute of Archaeology under the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH).

The references may be returned once details are worked out, but there is an outrage on social media as Maya imagery has become instinctually linked with Belize and its promotion of tourism.

Tillett gave no indication of whether Maya leaders approached the BTB on the issue and we will seek comment on it from them.

 

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