Last Thursday, Justice Michelle Arana ordered US Capital Energy and the Government of Belize to enter negotiations with the Maya of southern Toledo before continuing with their plans and preparations to drill for petroleum within the Sarstoon Temash National Park.
The leaders of the Maya communities surrounding the park are asking for an opportunity to dialogue with the company despite being told that all they want is money.
It appears that US Capital has tried to begin that dialogue – but not in the manner SATIIM would have liked. A press release issued this evening states that within 72 hours of the decision being handed down, indigenous leaders received an invitation to meet with US Capital representatives and their attorney, Michael Peyrefitte in Punta Gorda Town.
The purpose? According to the letter, it was to have Peyrefitte and the company officials “explain and interpret the judgment handed down by Supreme Court Judge, Her Lordship, Michelle Arana, to the leaders of the communities of our area of influence”.
SATIIM takes that to be an attempt to bully the communities, decrying it as possibly unethical for someone in Peyrefitte’s profession.
It demands that the government put in the mechanisms necessary to respect the Maya’s rights and consult “cooperate in good faith and develop in conjunction with us, fair, transparent and effective mechanisms to ensure that the rights of our communities are no longer trampled upon.”
SATIIM has received support from third party Vision Inspired by the People (VIP), who today sent out a release hailing Justice Arana’s decision and calling for “vigilance” to see to it that it is properly carried out.