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Maya Culture-Belize says Minister Dolores Balderamos disrespected the Maya people in the House of Representatives, calls on Government to deliver on Plan Belize

Posted: Tuesday, February 6, 2024. 4:04 pm CST.

Photo Credit: 7 News Belize

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Maya of Toledo are upset with Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Dolores Balderamos Garcia, who said “We cannot claim the whole of the Toledo District.” last Friday in the House of Representatives.

The Maya Culture-Belize Facebook page issued a response on Monday saying the Maya are not being greedy but rather are thinking of their future generations.

Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Dolores Balderamos Garcia – Government of Belize Press Office

Balderamos told a story by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy that goes by the name “How much land does a man need?”

The story goes that the landowners of a huge tract of land told a man that he would be given as much land as he could walk before sundown. Instead of walking the man ran and ran because he wanted all the land. However he fell, suffered a heart attack, and died.

“And how much land did that man need?” Balderamos asked and then proceeded to respond saying the man only needed “Bout eight feet so, and four feet so, and six feet so” in clear reference to his grave and that no one takes anything with himself or herself when they die.

“Madam Speaker, what is the moral that I am trying to get to this morning. The land is forever but we must share. We must remember our children. We must remember other people. We cannot claim the whole of the Toledo District.”

Maya meeting in Santa Elena, Toledo on Friday, January 27, 2024 – Photo Credit: 7 News Belize

“Minister for Indigenous Peoples Affairs scolds and disrespects the People she claims to represent,” Maya Culture-Belize said in a social media post in response to Balderamos statement.

“Her story of the Rich Man who plays on the vulnerability of the poor man is very telling of this governments strategy. This is in fact not different from what they are doing to us the Maya. After 40 years of trying to seek the recognition and respect of the State to our Land Rights, and then at the final hour, at the ninth year of implementation, (right before the sun goes down like in her story) they slip in there 1 km circular area proposal (this is like telling us to run as far before the sun goes down) knowing full well that their goal is to limit the land and hope we die! (like the man getting a heart attack).”

“When this propose policy accomplishes our death, then finally they will all laugh and be satisfied that they have only given us a grave yard plot of land! For the rich and powerful – Sharing means they end up with a majority of the land meanwhile they bury the indigenous people. Sound familiar? Because history tends to repeat itself.”

 

In another post, Maya Culture-Belize said the land for the Maya people they are fighting for “is never about greed or a collateral for debt.”

“It is about toiling the soil, planting your own food, fishing, hunting, collecting medicinal herbs. Without land we cannot eat. The spirits of our ancestors roam around us and they remind us that the next 7 generation must eat too. They echo to us that the forest, animals, rivers, creeks, streams, valleys and mountains are all assets for the next generation and the generations after.”

Maya meeting in Santa Elena, Toledo on Friday, January 27, 2024 – Photo Credit: Maya Culture-Belize

Maya Culture-Belize called on the Government to deliver on Plan Belize.

“You promised in Plan Belize that you will respect communal land rights to ancestral lands. We demand you to deliver on Plan Belize Now! You will come back to get our votes soon and you will hear from us,” Maya Culture-Belize said in yet another post.”

The issue of land rights has long been a thorn for the Government that has to deal with the Maya, asking that their rights to their land be respected, and other Belizeans, including other Maya, who as Prime Minister John Briceño said, also have a right to own land.

Of late, the Government has been having consultations in different villages in an aim to review the land policy but the Maya movement is not particularly pleased with the way these meetings are being conducted. A case in point is the meeting the Maya movement had in Santa Elena, Toledo, on January 27, to which they had invited the Government, but which wasn’t attended by any Government official.

At the meeting the Maya issued the Santa Elena Declaration in which they said they rejected the Government Policy’s limited circular proposal (#5) and demanded “that the Government comply with the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice) consent order, to work with us to identify, delimit and demarcate the lands that we use and occupy”. The declaration also said that they will no longer accept separate meetings or consultations; that they want to meet collectively as in that particular meeting in Santa Elena.

Prime Minister John Briceño – Photo Credit: 7 News Belize

“This is not how it works,” Prime Minister John Briceño said in an interview with 7 News Belize.

“Not because you say ‘Come to Santa Elena’, means we have to come there.”

Prime Minister Briceño essentially said that the Government wouldn’t go to a place where they would be railroaded.

“Come on. We have been meeting regularly and why would you go into an area where you have a few hundred people who are not happy and then what, you’re going to go into a shouting match. That does not make sense.”

Prime Minister Briceño said meetings should be conducted where people can speak rationally.

One thing’s for sure, the lands quandary isn’t over. The Maya and everyone else want their piece.

 

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