Tag Archives: Maya

Take Action–Belize: Our Life, Our Lands — Respect Maya Land Rights

 from Cultural Survival

Young boy holding onto a Cacao tree in Jordan Village, one of the communities within US Capital’s concession for oil drilling. © Tony Rath Photography / tonyrath.com

In southern Belize, Sarstoon Temash National Park holds within its 42,000 acres the most pristine rainforest in the country. Its primary forests have been attributed by National Geographic as remnants of the ancient Maya’s agroforestry systems, and today continue to be sustainably maintained by the Maya peoples of Southern Belize.

The Supreme Court of Belize ruled in 2007 and again in 2010 that the Maya who have ancestrally cared for these forests shall hold the legal titles to these lands. This court ruling, along with national and international laws, mandates that Indigenous Peoples must give their Free, Prior and Informed Consentbefore any development project that may affect them.  But that right has been trampled on again and again by the Texas-based oil company US Capital Energy, which received a concession from the Belize government to extract oil in Southern Belize beginning in 2001.

In further flagrant violation of the Maya land rights under national law, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and recommendations by the Inter American Human Rights Commission, the government has now granted the oil company permits to move to the second phase of exploratory drilling in the park and on Indigenous territories.  US Capital Energy has so far cut over 200 miles of seismic trails for oil exploration in the national park and on communities’ traditional lands, also causing forest fires destroying 400 acres, including the unique ecosystem of the sphagnum moss, the last of its kind in Central America.

The 21,000 Indigenous people in the region are fighting to defend their traditional lands, including the national treasure of the Sarstoon Temash National Park, against this short-sighted land grab.  As Gregory Ch’oc of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management explains, “The government is counting on our regional isolation, our poverty, and our relative lack of power to continue marginalizing and discriminating against us and violating our rights. Therefore, we are urgently calling allies of the earth’s biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples to take a stand with us and support our struggle.”

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Oil, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Maya banned from performing ceremonies at ancestral temples in Mexico

Note: The Mexican government’s denial of the right of Maya spiritual leaders to perform these cultural ceremonies must be viewed in tandem with its efforts to expel Maya campesino communities from resource-rich territories such as the Lacandon Jungle.  Communities like Amador Hernández are being forcibly displaced from their lands to make way for logging, mining, eco-tourism, bio-prospecting, and increasingly,  through programs like REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), to provide carbon offset credits for carbon markets in the US and elsewhere.

Global Justice Ecology Project recently travelled to Amador Hernandez to document this process, some of which is featured in our  film A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests.  -The GJEP Team

By John Ahni Schertow, December 6 2012. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Chichen Itza, Mexico.  Photo: Flickr

Chichen Itza, Mexico. Photo: Flickr

Mexican authorities have banned Maya spiritual leaders from performing ceremonies at their ancestral temples, which are about to be overrun by a curious assortment of conspiracy theorists, dooms-dayers, new-agers and well-intentioned tourists who just want to be apart of the festivities.

The Ceremonies are meant to mark the end of the Maya long-count calendar, which began 13 Baktun (cycles) ago. Under the Greco-Roman Calender, that’s about 3112 BC.

Contrary to popular (mis)belief, the end of the long-count calendar is being viewed as something positive. As Mayan priest Jose Manrique Esquive recently pointed out, the current Baktun, which began around 1618, has been drenched by a continuous reign of misery that included the introduction of European disease, culture and language being erased and entire populations being extinguished. Continue reading

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Filed under Chiapas, Commodification of Life, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression