This morning in her chambers, Justice Michelle Arana told parties to the SATIIM vs. GOB and U.S. Capital case that a decision will be given next Thursday, April 3. In the interim, SATIIM’s plans to seek an injunction to halt pre-drilling activity in the Sarstoon Temash National Park were discontinued. With more here is SATIIM’s executive director, Gregory Ch’oc.
“This morning, the legal counsels for the parties associated with the case. I met with justice Michelle Arana and we were informed that the court will issue a ruling on Thursday next week on the substantive matters that got ventilated in the court last year October, 22, 23rd. Having learnt of that, we adjourned an application for an injunction that we filed until the date when the court will issue the ruling”.
But the major development tonigh is that U.S. Capital seems to have reached the end of its tether with the Mayas of southern Toledo.
They basically accuse the Maya of extortion or blackmail, demanding a greater share of the oil revenue should oil be found, and say they do not truly care about the surrounding environment and any repercussions for its disturbance, of which the company says there will be very little. Its attorney, Michael Peyrefitte, developed this line of argument on what he says is the Maya’s true purpose for advancing the claim.
“The only reason the leadership of the Mayan people applied for an injunction brought in action in this matter was because they wanted a bigger share of the oil revenues should there be oil there. That is the bottom line for this. It is not because they want to preserve the land as it is for hunting and fishing. They have been very clear to us in main things on consultation. They want us to drill for the oil. This is a matter of money, of when we told them what the law says about their share would be, their response was, we are Mayas. We deserve a bigger share simply because we are Mayas, and I told them for their culture and for their history that the Mayas, while we have to respect them, they are not better than any other Belizean”.
How did Ch’oc respond to Peyrefitte’s shocking claim? He said all the Mayas really want is for the big men to respect the law.
Mr. Gregory Ch’oc: “It is too easy to simplify the struggle of the poor sector of this country for anyone in high power to characterize and misjudge the principle and the foundation of the struggle of the communities. But having said what he said, I want to clear here that everybody deserves to live in dignity, deserving their rights that is guaranteed by the constitution of this country to be taken into account in any undertaking whether it is by government, by private sector or any individual; no one should be denied those rights”.
According to Peyrefitte, U.S. Capital never had any intentions of starting drilling before a decision had been made by the courts. The verdict will be in next Thursday.