The last we heard about the Chair of the Maya Lands Rights Commission it was the Toledo Maya Leaders complaining that she had ejected them from her office after they sought to meet with her. Today the Maya Land Rights Commission held a media sensitization breakfast in Belize City. According to Chair of the Commission, Lisel Alamilla, the objectives of the meeting was to discuss the Commission’s work.
“We went point by point in explaining what really is written in the order. We spoke about the importance of the commission consulting with the Maya people and their representatives. We spoke about the importance that whatever we do must fit within the framework of the constitution and that we cannot be discriminating against any group or groups of people. The order also speaks to what will be the outcome of the entire process which is ensuring that we are protecting the rights of the Maya people and ensuring that we protect the rights as it relates to Maya customary land tenure.”
Alamilla went on to speak about the consultations they have carried out so far.
“We have had consultations with the steering committee that the associations had formed and we followed that with a sensitization meeting with the NGOs that work in the south and then we started a consultation with elected leaders from all the villages in the Toledo district, Maya and Non Maya villages including Punta Gorda town so we zoned the district into nine and we had nine meetings over a two week period.”
Legal Consultant for the Commission, Tony Ross mentioned that one of the difficulties they have encountered is the understanding of the Court Order by the Maya people.
“The difficulty is that the Maya people seem to be getting two different messages, one appears to be that there still is a sense that something adversarial that is happening and the commission is of the view that we are past the adversarial process. There is no longer any conflict it is a matter of reading the order and recognizing that the order is something that had been put together by legal counsel for those who were advancing the cause of the Maya people and the government. They have come to their own conclusion as to how these matters should be resolved it is represented in the order and it is our function to assist in giving life to that order.”
The Commission has had meetings with twenty three villages so far.