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Conejo Creek makes history as 1st Maya Land Rights appellant to complete Map

Posted: Friday, March 10, 2023. 2:42 pm CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: Conejo Creek has made history as the first Maya land rights appellant ready to submit a complete map for the land titling process.

In 2007, Conejo, along with co-appellant Santa Cruz, was the first Maya village to win legal recognition of customary property rights from the Supreme Court of Belize in Cal et al v Attorney General of Belize.

Today’s signing of its boundary agreement with Santa Teresa makes Conejo the second Maya village to complete its auto-delimitation. (In 2018, Crique Sarco village was the first to present a map to the government, but there was no response or process at that time.)

The Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) provided technical assistance to both Crique Sarco and Conejo communities through a participatory mapping method.

In the recent case of Conejo, SATIIM provided the first GPS training to Maya women, which makes it the first gender-inclusive Maya map in Belize.

Conejo’s documentation will now be transmitted to the Government of Belize for verification as part of process delineated in the Revised Roadmap for the Implementation of Caribbean Court of Justice Consent Order of 2015.

Villagers of Conejo and Santa Theresa gave their consent for SATIIM’s technical support for the process that lead to the boundary agreement.

“It is fitting that Conejo, one of the first appellants to win legal recognition of Maya customary land tenure, is ready for verification. SATIIM is proud of our role in this historic moment,” said Maya Ch’oc, SATIIM Executive Director.

In 1997, five villages – including Conejo — created SATIIM when their lands were designated part of the Sarstoon Temash National Park without their knowledge or consent.

Since then, SATIIM has provided technical assistance for the defense of their human and environmental rights, as well as their community development.


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