Oil Exploration Resumes in Toledo District After Consent Agreements Signed

Oil Exploration Resumes in Toledo District After Consent Agreements Signed

Oil exploration in the Toledo District will resume after US Capital Belize Corporation and four southern communities signed Consent Agreements over the weekend. According to the government, a year of dialog between the company, the communities, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Department of the Environment led to the finalization of the agreements. The company ceased operations in the district in 2016 after the CCJ issued a Consent Order confirming Maya’s customary land rights. The Toledo Mayan community, led at the time by Gregory Ch’oc, who now serves as the Commissioner of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, had strongly opposed seismic activity in their communities. However, under the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent Agreement, the villages of Midway, San Felipe, Boom Creek, and Crique Sarco have given the green light for oil exploration in their communities. The Chairman and the Alcalde of San Felipe both spoke on the agreement. 

Daniel Guttierez, US Capital: “U.S. Capitol Corp, along with the Government of Belize and throughout the weekend four communities in the Toledo districts have been signing consent agreements. And essentially what this is under the free prior and informed consent that is now necessary in certain communities in southern Belize it is mandated that there be an agreement with the communities prior to the commencement of any petroleum-related activities. So that is what has happened over the past year plus, a number of consultations that deal with everything from employment to what people can expect to  see, what are oil and gas operations, what they’re not, etc. And only after that lengthy process and a series of discussions and clarifications to the communities, have the communities finally decided to enter a consent agreement and thereby provide consent to U.S. Capital and the Government of Belize to undertake oil exploration activities. There are four communities with which consent agreements were signed this weekend; Midway, Crique Sarco, Boom Creek and now San Felipe.”

Daniel Gutierrez, representative of US Capital spoke about the process of securing consent from the communities and the importance of it. 

Juan Ack, Chairman San Felipe Village: “We the leaders have reached the negotiation with government and US Capital that we signed the consent agreement today with all the ministries and other members of US Capital and leaders of this village. We believe that it’s a small portion that are going to approach, it’s 0.25 miles within San Felipe that is between San Felipe and Boom Creek that is where the piece between San Felipe has been caught. So now we believe that it’s time for us to see some development within our community because for the longest that we need some assistance nobody assisted us except the Government of Belize but you know there’s so many villages to attend to, so we get a little bit of development. So we believe with U.S. Capital if we give them permission, give them the time we will enjoy some social programs and other benefits for the younger generation to come.”

Felipio Choco, Alcalde: “The benefits we are really needing in this community, we need scholarship, we need upgrades for the roads, street lights that’s why I really support the U.S. Capital along with the government.”

US Capital Belize Corporation began exploration in Belize in land occupied by the Toledo Maya under the name US Capital Energy.

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