Sanctions For Myles For Bulldozing Uxbenca

At a handing over ceremony today, Dr. John Morris, Director of the Institute of Archaeology, said the institute was in constant dialogue and negotiations with the village of Santa Cruz since a large percentage of the village actually sits on the 5 square kilometres of the proposed archaeological reserve of Uxbenca. And for the last couple of years the villagers have been adhering to the requests of the authorities.

Dr.  John Morris – Director of the Institute of Archaeologyvlcsnap-2015-07-27-10h18m48s107

“Over the last couple of years, we have been having discussions with the village to demarcate a boundary so we can create an archaeological reserve via the statutory instrument that we normally do. The village, we had to negotiate with the village because obviously you can’t move the entire village out of the area, there is close to a thousand people living there now. We had demarcated an area that we had proposed for the archaeological reserve and informal agreements to the village was that they would not cut the forest there, they would not build any structures within that area; they would not dig or plant anywhere within that proposed reserve.”

But in the latter part of last year, Rupert Myles started settling in the Maya village of Santa Cruz, a village run by a communal land rights system. According to the Maya people of Santa Cruz, Myles did not go through the proper procedures of applying for permission to settle in the community. And to make matters worse, he started building a structure right atop one of the mounds of the proposed archaeological reserve of Uxbenca. After constant dialogue and many notices, the Maya villagers arrested Rupert Myles and we all know what happened after that. 13 Maya villagers were dragged to court to answer to charges for illegal arrest. But that is another matter. Today we asked Dr. John Morris if there will be any sanctions for Rupert Myles for destroying part of the Mayan heritage.

Dr. John Morris – Director, Institute of Archeology

“I don’t know what possessed the gentleman to keep on building and to bulldoze the road. I recently came from a NICH board meeting yesterday and I was given the instruction to proceed with the notice of eviction.”

Daniel Ortiz
“Is there any criminal sanctions that can be brought against Mr. Myles? Because we were picking sentiment from the Mayans that they’ve been criminal sanctioned with the unlawful imprisonment charge, but nothing has been done to Mr. Myles. Will any action be taken?”

Dr. John Morris
“Definitely, just like the case with the Noh Mul, the destruction of the mound…it is in court right now. Mr. Denny Grijalva has had to attend several court sessions. The same way, we have all intentions. We will give him a letter of eviction from the area and then we are finishing up our assessment of the damage that he has done to the platform of the ancient Maya building and when we are finished with that we are going to serve him with court papers for the destruction of a monument based on the laws of Belize.”

Reporter

“Sir any preliminary estimate as to how much has been damaged?”

 

Dr. John Morris

“About fifty percent of the mound has been damaged.”

 

Reporter

“A timeline has to when those charges will be levied or when he will be served?”

 

Dr. John Morris

“Well we just finished the work this week that went by. I had to prepare a report for the NICH Board of Directors for yesterday and then shortly, maybe next week, we will be sending him a notice of eviction. And then I have to speak with the lawyers that form part of the NICH body and have them give me the go ahead or tell me what else needs to be done.”

 

Reporter

“As an archaeologist, can you share the importance if that particular mound or where it falls into the system of the Mayan temples ?

Dr. John Morris

“Well, Uxbenca is one of the  earliest known Mayan site in Southern Belize. In fact, the early occupation it dates to about 250 AD.  makes it very early because most of the sites in southern Belize were late – 700 – 800 AD, Nim li punit, Luubantun, Pusilha. This is an early one. It is very important for us to protect a lot of the mounds in that area for future research because it can tell us a lot about the early populations of ancient Maya in Toledo.To destroy these mounds just doesn’t make sense.”

                                                                                                                           

No timeline has been given as to when those sanctions will be brought upon Rupert Myles but Dr. Morris assures that there will be legal consequences.

About the Author