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Maya Leaders Decry Racist Statement by Mike Espat

mike espat belize

Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2023. 3:44 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: On January 28, 2023, “PG Day” was celebrated in Punta Gorda Town, and Area Representative, Mike Espat opened the event.

During that discourse, Espat reportedly uttered distasteful remarks about the Mayas and the land rights claim.

With regards to Greg Ch’oc, who is the Government appointed Commissioner of Indigenous People’s Affairs, he said, that Ch’oc is “a commissioner of Indian Affairs.”

According to a video obtained by 7News Belize, Espat went off on that point.

“We are faced with a 6-million-dollar debt right now because we built a road to Jalacte for the people of this country. We did not build that road to Jalacte to satisfy one ethnic group in this country, we built that road for the people of this country Belize – 6 million you know. We have a commissioner of Indian affairs hired by the government of Belize in this town and I will say it now and I will say it again, you cannot have the rat minding the cheese. We have a problem in regards to this Maya cultural movement that we are faced with in this country and I think it is a very bad move that is being made influenced by external money and it is going to create a racial divide in this country,”  Espat stated.

“I have discussed this matter with the prime minister over and over again and it seems to me that we are going up against a brick wall and we need some sledgehammer to break it down,” Minister Espat added.

Since then, the Belize Progressive Party (BPP) has condemned the derogatory remarks.

And, the Maya Leaders Alliance (MLA) says that Expat’s statements are “nothing short of racist”.

MLA’s Cristina Coc told News 5 Belize that Espat “framed the Maya people struggle and movement as a separatist movement which he described as, you know, their aim is to create new borders with checkpoints, charging people to enter their land financed by foreigners.  But perhaps most damning was when he described the movement as a brick wall against which a sledgehammer must be used to break it down, even calling on the people of Punta Gorda to stop the Maya.  This is, of course, in our humble view, it is nothing short of racist and nothing short of inciting violence against the Maya people.  That is, in summary, our view of Minister Expat’s statement.”

In addition, Coc says that these statements come at a time when the government operates as if it is above the need to comply with the orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice. 

Coc added that such a statement is an attempt to rally the public against the Maya people and against their struggle.


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