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Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs reiterates commitment to resolving Maya land rights issue

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Posted: Tuesday, February 1, 2022. 12:05 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The contretemps over who gets to represent the Maya community aside, the Government of Belize as reiterated by Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs Dolores Balderamos-Garcia is serious about implementing the 2015 Caribbean Court of Justice consent order “in a respectful way, but absolutely in an inclusive way.”

A roadmap for such implementation was to be delivered to the court on Monday. Commissioner of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Gregory Ch’oc, pointed out that this was submitted to the various Maya organizations for their input, but there has been no response.

“That roadmap put in place an ambitious agenda, that by April of 2023 legislation should be placed before Parliament, before the Legislature. As the Minister said, this Government wishes and has all intention to comply with the undertaking of the CCJ Consent Order,” Ch’oc said.

Minister Balderamos-Garcia added that by the end of February, there would be created a Maya Customary Land Tenure Policy on which the organizations would be consulted. “We believe in consultation, and again, the court has given us until the end of February to file the Maya Customary Land Tenure Policy and we intend to comply. We’re not gonna kick the can down the road for five years, or six years or seven years. We are serious about implementation. It’s not going to be easy but I believe that with goodwill we can get it done.”

That consultation, the Minister told us, also includes those, like in Crique Jute village, who may still want individual rights of land tenure. The policy will have work-arounds on that and similar issues while respecting and enshrining customary land tenure as the primary mode of landholding within these villages.

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