World Archaelogical Congress concerned for Belizean Maya

The executive committee and counsel of the World Archaeological Congress has written a letter to Prime Minister Dean Barrow expressing concern over the treatment of the Mayas in Belize in their struggle to protect their material and cultural heritage and exercise their legally established land rights.  This is in relation to the damage at Uxbenca, allegedly at the hands of Rupert Myles. After being asked to refrain from further bulldozing of the site and his refusal, Myles was detained by the Mayan people of Santa Cruz and it caused an outcry since he was tied and restrained until police went on the scene. The Mayan leaders were in turn arrested and charged for unlawful detention of Myles while download (10)Myles was freed and allegedly continued his personal development of the area. The letter from the World Archaelogiacal Congress states

‘Rather than arresting the violator of the Uxbenca site, the police arrested the Mayan leaders who sought to defend it. The incident at Santa Cruz follows the world shocking destruction of Nuh Mol, continued reports of rampant looting of Mayan sites in the Belizean Chiquibul region and in many other parts of the country. In this context, it is of serious concern to the congress that customary attempts to stem destruction were impeded and even punished. Considering the degree to which Belize depends on the archaeological wealth provided by ancestral Maya to support tourism, it would seem prudent to support descendant communities that take responsibility for sight protection and preservation.”

The release went on to say

“In Belize, the courts have consistently found that the Maya and Ketchi people of Belize have rights to control the use of their communities and their land. The World Archaeological Congress urges the government of Belize to recognize these rights and support of the cultural property rights of  all people.”

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