Congress of Maya Teachers calls for better understanding of Maya traditions

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Updated: July 7, 2015

The Congress of Maya Teachers (CMT), a group of Maya teachers from rural and urban Toledo issued a release on the Santa Cruz incident involving Rupert Myles. While some, including Myles claims it was a case of racial discrimination, the CMT says that is not so. The group rejects calls for the Alcalde system to be abolished as this is a unique system that is in the laws of Belize. By virtue of the provisions of the Act, an Alcalde court has both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Many Alcaldes speak of their office as a huge burden to carry since their duty is to promote peace and harmony, maintain a caring community, and govern the village resources and lands. The release goes on to speak of the rules and process for becoming a resident of a Maya village. Which is when someone wishes to become a resident of a Maya village they must inform the village leaders and then a village meeting is convened to seek the approval of the community. In most cases, if not all, new residents are accepted into the village. This is a village rule, a practice and tradition used in all of the Maya villages over many years. For this reason the CMT say they do not believe that the Santa Cruz case was a matter of racism or discrimination. Rather, the accounts of the villagers and the documents provided showed a breakdown in giving respect to the village norms and the Alcaldes court. It says the Maya in Southern Belize have contributed to the development of our country. The CMT expressed its distaste for some of the comments made, particularly by some of the nation leaders labeling the Maya people as violent, ignorant, and racist. The CMT calls on everyone to exercise the greatest of respect and tolerance and to avoid instigating further hatred against anyone. It ends by saying it affirms its commitment to collaborate with the Ministry of Education and the Government of Belize to ensure that Maya and African history is advanced in meaningful ways in all primary schools in the Toledo District and calls on the government to sit and dialogue with the Maya people and to act quickly to find solutions that will put the past behind and celebrate our unity as one Belize.