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June 1, 2014

Campaign Update: Belize- Maya Unite in Gathering of Children of the Earth

Press Release by the Maya Leaders Alliance

June 26th, 2014, Punta Gorda Town. One year after the decisive judgment of the Belize Court of Appeal that upheld Maya Customary Land Rights, Maya people of the 39 villages in southern Belize came together at Indian Creek village, Toledo. This was The Gathering of the Children of the Earth.  This historic event led by the Toledo Alcaldes Association and the Maya Leaders Alliance is an affirmation of the Maya Peoples solidarity for creating a more dignified and just Belize!

During the gathering the Maya People took another monumental step towards creating a more dignified and just society. The Executive Council of the Toledo Alcaldes Association presented to the Maya People the endorsed document – Roxloq’oninlkileb’ aj Maya (Respecting the Maya People), the result of many years of dialogue and engagement. This document is the Consultation Framework for the Maya People of Southern Belize. The Consultation Framework establishes how the government of Belize, its agencies, and non-state entities should engage the Maya People on issues that affect them, including the use and enjoyment of their properties and resources. This framework is the collective effort of the Maya people which is built upon the understanding that the struggle of today is a struggle for our children and our children’s children. 

While recent attempts have been made to divide us as a people, The Gathering brought us closer in solidarity. Our conviction of what is right for our People, our nation, and our planet has nothing radical about it. Justice cannot be radical. Justice cannot be ephemeral. Justice is unquestionable and undefeatable. When we stand for respect, dignity and equality we stand undefeated. No government, personal interest, or Private Corporation can defeat justice. The Gathering also reminded us that for more than 500 years we have come to realize that aside from our history, culture, resources and people, another prized possession is the dream for justice. This dream cannot be solely decided in the Courts. It cannot be erased off the history books. More importantly, it cannot be uprooted from our hearts.

In closing we congratulate the Tsilhqot’in First Nation People of Canada for another historic legal achievement at the Supreme Court of Canada.  The Court granted title to lands used and occupied by this indigenous group. We are encouraged that courts around the world are affirming the rights of indigenous people to a respectful, equal, and dignified life.

Read more about the Maya of Belize and the fight for their rights through our campaign: Belize: Our Life, Our Lands- Respect Maya Land Rights