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IN THE CARIBBEAN COURT OF JUSTICE

Appellate Jurisdiction

ON APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEAL OF BELIZE
CCJ Appeal No BZCV2014/002
BZ Civil Appeal No 27 of 2010

BETWEEN

THE MAYA LEADERS ALLIANCE
THE TOLEDO ALCALDES ASSOCIATION on behalf of the Maya villages of Toledo District
JUAN POP on behalf of the Maya village of Golden Stream
DOMINGO CAL on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Aguacate
LUCIANO CAL on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Bladen ALBERTO
HUN on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Blue Creek CANDIDO CHO
on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Crique Jute LUIS CHO on his own
behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of CriqueSarco PEDRO CUCUL on his own behalf
and on behalf of the Maya village of Dolores MANUEL CHOC on his own behalf and on
behalf of the Maya village of Indian Creek ALFONSO OH on his own behalf and on behalf
of the Maya village of Jalacte MARIANO CHOC on his own behalf and on behalf of the
Maya village of Jordan EDWARDO COY on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya
village of Laguna PABLO SALAM on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of
Medina Bank
ROLANDO AUGUSTINE PAU on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Midway
LORENZO COC on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Otoxha
SANTIAGO COC on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Pueblo Viejo
SILVINO SHO on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of San Antonio
IGNACIO TEC on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of San Benito Poite
GALO MEJANGRE on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of San Felipe
FRANCISCO CUS on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of San Marcos
MARCOS ACK on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of San Miguel JUAN
QUIB on his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of San Vicente LIGORIO COY on
his own behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Santa Anna ELIGORIO CUS on his own
behalf and on behalf of the Maya village of Santa Theresa.

Appellants
AND

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BELIZE Respondent

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Community Analysis Report
to the
Caribbean Court of Justice
CCJ Appeal No. BZCV2014/002
BZ Civil Appeal No. 27 of 2010

Prepared by:

Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission
January 19, 2017

Second Floor, East Block, Independence Plaza
Belmopan, Belize Central America
Tel: (501) 822-0519/822-2504
Fax: (501) 822-3390

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Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .......................................................................................................................5
BACKGROUND ...................................................................................................................................8
Table 1: Ethnic composition of persons living in Toledo District ........................................................... 8
CATEGORY A COMMUNITIES (MAYA COMMUNITIES THAT WERE PARTIES TO THE LITIGATION) .................................... 9
CATEGORY B COMMUNITIES (MAYA COMMUNITIES THAT WERE NOT PARTIES TO THE LITIGATION)............................ 10
CATEGORY C COMMUNITIES (NON-MAYA COMMUNITIES) BARRANCO ................................................................. 10
Fig. 1. Chart showing the percentage composition of communities in Toledo District, Belize ........... 11
Fig. 2. Chart showing the breakdown of languages spoken in communities throughout Toledo
District, Belize ...................................................................................................................................... 11
OVERVIEW OF CONSULTATIONS ....................................................................................................... 12
MEETINGS TO DATE ..................................................................................................................................... 12
Table 2: Communities which the Commission has met with to date .................................................. 12
Fig. 3. Chart showing the categories of communities the Commission has met with to date ............ 13
Fig. 4. Chart showing the percentage composition of preferred land tenure of communities in Toledo
District, Belize ...................................................................................................................................... 13
DISCUSSION: .................................................................................................................................... 14
CATEGORIES OF ISSUES ARISING FROM MEETINGS ........................................................................... 16
LAND USE & CONFLICTS ............................................................................................................................... 16
Pro Customary lands ........................................................................................................................... 19
Pro non-Customary Land..................................................................................................................... 20
Mixed (Both customary and non-customary lands) ............................................................................ 20
TOLEDO ALCALDE ASSOCIATION/ MAYA LEADERS ALLIANCE ............................................................................... 20
CONCERNS FROM NON-MAYAS ..................................................................................................................... 21
CONSULTATION PROCESS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….20
DISTRUST ................................................................................................................................................... 23
MATTERS RELATED TO THE COMMISSION ........................................................................................................ 24
CHALLENGES ............................................................................................................................................... 25
Scheduled meetings that did not take place. ................................................................................................................... 27
Table 3: List of communities which refused to meet with the Commission ........................................ 28
CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............................................................................................. 30

APPENDIX 1: Population of communities in Toledo District at last census (2010) ............................. 35
APPENDIX 2: List of communities and languages predominantly spoken in each .............................. 36
APPENDIX 3: Categories into which communities were divided ......................................................... 37
APPENDIX 4: Dates Commission held community meetings ............................................................... 38
APPENDIX 5: PowerPoint Presentation presented to communities .................................................... 39
APPENDIX 6: Notice posted at Department of Land in Punta Gorda ……….……………………………………..45
APPENDIX 7: Incident Report .............................................................................................................. 47
APPENDIX 8: Sample letters submitted by the communities to the commission ................................ 49
APPENDIX 9: Original letter of letter of invitation for a meeting........................................................ 52

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APPENDIX 10: Amended letter of invitation for a community meeting ............................................. 54

Annex

Consultation Framework

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Executive Summary
Background
There are fifty-one (51) communities in Toledo District. Of the ten (10) ethnic groups
represented throughout the district, Mayas account for majority of the population.
Several of the communities along with the Toledo Alcalde Association (TAA) and Maya
Leaders Alliance (MLA), brought a claim against the Government of Belize. As a result,
a Consent Order between the Government and the Maya people of Southern Belize
was arrived at, in which the Government has undertaken to identify and protect the
rights of the Maya people. Consequently, the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission
(Commission) was established as a medium through which to satisfy the Order.
The Commission has completed the initial round of consultations which was aimed at
sensitizing the communities with the content of the Order, introducing the communities
to the members of the Commission and familiarizing the public with the role of the
Commission. The communities were categized into three groups: Category A consist of
the 23 Maya communities which were claimants to the case, Category B is comprised of
the 17 Maya communities which were not claimants to the case and Category C is
comprised of 10 non-Maya communities. To date, the Commission has met with 33
communities- 9 Category A communities, 15 Category B communities and 9 Category C
communities. From the preliminary findings of the Commission, there is support for
either Maya Customary Land Tenure or individual land held in lease or title land, or for a
mixed approach.
Overview of Consultations
Concerns and issues which were raised during the meetings include the need for
demarcation of community boundaries and the resolution of land use and resource
extraction conflicts. Many expressed concerns about the Lands and Surveys
Department’s reluctance to accept rental payment for leased lands and taxes for titled
lands. Others enquired how their preference for communal and/or individual lands will
be addressed within the communities.
Further, it was alleged that TAA/MLA were telling the communities that leased lands will
be converted into communal lands. The relationship between MLA/TAA and the
Commission was also raised on different occasions
The issues of unauthorized use of lands and establishment of settlements possibly by
undocumented immigrants were also raised. Non-Maya Belizeans especially wanted to
know how their rights and lands will be protected throughout this process.
Another point of interest raised in the meetings is the allegation that there were no
community-wide consultations by the Alcaldes and MLA/TAA prior to listing the
communities as Claimants in the case. In some instances, the Communities were not
aware if they were Claimants or not, and some communities voiced their desire to opt

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out of the process as they were not in agreement from the onset of the case.
Noteworthy is that majority of those consulted were not familiar with the Consent Order.
From the feedback received during the meetings, it is apparent that the people are
distrustful. Many were reluctant to sign attendance sheets upon request on the premise
that in the past their signatures have been used under false pretext.
Communities have also communicated that in the past they have been undermined by
the Government and some Non-Governmental Oganizations (NGOs) who breached
agreements entered into with the communities. Several people wanted to know if the
Commission is working with a timeline, and also when the follow up meetings with the
communities will occur. Some were confused for what purpose the Special Fund was
established.
Challenges
In some communities, there is disunity between the Village Alcaldes and the Village
Councils. In some instances, the Village Councils were open to meet with the
Commission, while the Village Alcaldes were less amenable to the idea. One reason
which can account for some communities denial to meet with the Commission may be
because MLA/TAA is reportedly discouraging the communities from consulting with the
Commission on the premise that the Commission will attempt to dissuade the
community from choosing communal land tenure. The MLA/TAA is advocating to be the
only entity to dialogue with the Commission via the Steering Committee.
Further, there is also a need to address the many complaints that are being brought to
the attention of the Commission, which the Commission does not have the mandate to
address.
Concerns and Recommendations
Since the level of community consultations prior to the case is concerning, it is
recommended that decisions related to the implementation of the Order should be
supported by evidence that the communities have been consulted and have made
informed choices. This will ensure that the decisions being undertaken are
representative of the communities.
Moreover, as the Commission must act within the confines of the Constitution of Belize,
a consensus must be developed which honors the Constitution and the Consent Order.
This should be done in conjunction with the Mayas or their representatives; however, if
their cooperation is not forthcoming, then the Commission should craft a starting point
process and discussion document.
Furthermore, in light of some land use conflicts, communities must be presented with
clearly defined plain language options for land tenure and each given an opportunity to
vote as to their preference. Voting should include any Belizean resident or citizen
residing in the respective community who is either married or 18 years and older, and all

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decisions made should take into consideration future generations and their need to
access land and other natural resources.
Finally, because in some communities the Alcaldes adopt an autocratic style of
leadership and make decisions for the communities without soliciting the community
members’ input, it is being recommended that the Commission, in consultation on a
community-by-community basis, establish eligibility of rights to use and occupy lands,
subject to customary land tenure.

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Background
There are fifty-one (51) communities, one being Punta Gorda Town, in the Toledo
District (see Appendix 1). The languages commonly spoken in these communities are
English, Q’eqchi’ Maya, Mopan Maya and Spanish; Garifuna is also spoken in one
community (Appendix 2).
At the most recent population census (2010)1there was a total of 30,785 of persons
living in Toledo District. The following table shows the ethnic composition of persons
living throughout the district.

Table 1: Ethnic composition of persons living in Toledo District
Ethnic Group Total Number Percentage of Country
Population
Asian 84 0.3
Causian/White 256 1.0
Creole 1085 5.0
East Indian 1438 6.3
Garifuna 1507 6.1
Maya 18,721 66.5
Mennonite 248 0.8
Mestizo/Spanish/Latino 5445 19.9
Other 1,994 0.5
Not stated/ Unknown 7 0.1
Total population 30,785 30,785

Of the 51 communities in Toledo, twenty-three (23) of these communities, along with the
Maya Leaders Alliance (MLA) and the Toledo Alcalde Association (TAA) were claimants
to the case that was brought against the Government that was concluded by an
agreement between the parties. The terms of this agreement are captured in a Consent
Order (CCJ Appeal No. BZCV 2014/002; BZ Civil Appeal No. 27 of 2010) through which
the Government of Belize undertook to adopt affirmative measures to identify and
protect the rights of the Maya people. This exercise necessitated consultation with the
Maya people and/or their representatives. To meet these obligations, the Government
of Belize established the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission (Commission) in
January 2016. The Commissioners have since completed the first round of
consultations with most of the communities in the Toledo District with the objectives of:
a. Familiarizing communities with the content of the Consent Order - in
order for the Commission to meaningfully engage with the communities later,
it is essential that the people have a comprehensive understanding of the
matter at hand.

1
Population and Housing Census 2010
http://www.sib.org.bz/Portals/0/docs/publications/census/2010_Census_Report.pdf

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b. Introducing the members of the Commission - the Commission’s direct
contact with the communities allows for the introduction of the government-
appointed Commissioners.
c. Acquainting community members with the role of the Commission - it is
the Commission’s view that the people will be more open to engagement if
they fully understand the role of the Commission.
d. Fostering a milieu of trust - the Commission works on the premise of trust.
Therefore, inviting the entire community to ensure that they are aware of, and
understand, the matter at hand is a prerequisite for more meaningful dialogue
in the future.
The hypothesis that the Commission based the design of its initial consultations was
based on the following assumptions.
a. The twenty-three (23) communities which were listed as Claimants/Appellants
to the litigation were widely consulted prior to being listed as a party;
b. The Claimants/Appellants were united in the desire for customary land tenure;
c. The Claimants/Appellants were consulted and understood the terms and
effect of the Consent Order prior to it being presented to the CCJ;
d. The Maya communities had a general knowledge of the Consent Order and
were kept abreast as the litigation unfolded.

However, after the initial planning meetings which were held in conjunction with the
community leaders in preparation for the community meetings, it became evident that
many of the community leaders were not familiar with the content of the Consent Order.
The extent of their familiarity with the issue at hand was that there was a "Maya Land
Rights Case". This was true even for the communities that were listed as
Claimants/Appellants.
To serve the purposes of the Commission, the communities were grouped into there (3)
categories (see Appendix 3):

Category A Communities (Maya communities that were parties to the litigation)
1. Golden Stream 9. Jalacte 17. San Benito Poite
2. Aguacate 10. Jordan 18. San Felipe
3. Bladen 11. Laguna 19. San Marcos
4. Blue Creek 12. Medina Bank 20. San Miguel
5. Crique Jute 13. Midway 21. San Vicente
6. Crique Sarco 14. Otoxha 22. Santa Ana
7. Dolores 15. Pueblo Viejo 23. Santa Theresa
8. Indian Creek 16. San Antonio

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Category B Communities (Maya Communities that were not parties to the litigation)
1. Big Falls2
2. Boom Creek
3. Conejo Creek 3
4. Corazon Creek
5. Graham Creek
6. Lucky Strike
7. Mabil-Ha
8. Machakil Ha
9. Na Luum Ca
10. San Felipe
11. San Jose
12. San Lucas
13. San Pedro Columbia
14. Santa Cruz4
15. Santa Elena
16. Silver Creek
17. Sunday Wood

Category C Communities (Non-Maya communities)
1. Barranco5
2. Bella Vista
3. Cattle Landing
4. Elridgeville
5. Forest Home
6. Jacintoville
7. Mafredi
8. Punta Gorda
9. San Pablo6
10. Trio
11. Yemeri Grove

2
Big Falls is commonly identified as a Maya Village but it was originally settled by immigrants from the neighboring
countries, presently the community has various ethnic groups
3
This community may merit additional consideration in light of the fact that they involved in different litigation
before the government of Belize.
4
This community may merit additional consideration in light of the fact that they involved in different litigation
before the government of Belize.
5
An Indigenous Garinagu community
6
Non-Maya settlement that is not a recognized village, it however uses an Alcalde system

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Fig. 1. Chart showing the percentage composition of communities in Toledo District, Belize

Composition of Communities in Toledo Disctrict

Key
Category A- 23 Maya
11 Communities that were
parties to the litigation
23 Category B- 17 Maya
Communities that were not
parties to the litigation
17 Category C- 11 Non-Maya
communities

Schedule A Schedule B Schedule C

Fig. 2. Chart showing the breakdown of languages spoken in communities throughout Toledo District,
Belize7

Languages Predominantly Spoken in the Communities
40 35
35
Number of Communities

30
25
20
15 11
10
8
4
5 1
0
Q'eqchi English Garifuna Mopan Spanish

Language

7
Number of languages exceeds total number of communities because in some communities multiple languages
are commonly spoken.

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Overview of Consultations
The Commission has the mandate to meet with all communities in Toledo District, in
accordance with paragraph 3 of the Consent Order, which states as follows,

“In order to achieve the objective of paragraph 2, the Court accepts the undertaking of
the Government to, in consultation with the Maya people or their representatives,
develop the legislative, administrative and/or other measures necessary to create an
effective mechanism to identify and protect the property and other rights arising from
Maya customary land tenure, in accordance with Maya customary laws and land tenure
practices.”

Meetings to Date
To date, the Commission has attempted to meet with all communities in the Toledo
District. It was able to successfully meet with 33 communities as outlined in the table
below. The dates of those meetings are reflected in Appendix 4. The communities that
the Commission has met with thus far include:

Table 2: Communities which the Commission has met with to date
Category A Category B Category C
Bladen8 Big Falls Barranco
Blue Creek Boom Creek Cattle Landing
Crique Sarco Conejo Creek Elridgeville
Indian Creek Corazon Creek Forest Home
Pueblo Viejo Graham Creek Jacintoville
San Antonio Lucky Strike Mafredi
San Felipe Mabil-Ha Punta Gorda
San Marcos Na Luum Ca Trio
San Vicente San Felipe Yemeri Grove
San Jose
San Lucas
San Pedro Columbia
Santa Elena
Silver Creek
Sunday Wood

TOTAL: 9 TOTAL: 15 TOTAL:9

8
Participation at the Bladen meeting was very low and the Commission was advised that the Alcalde had informed
the community members that the meeting was only for Belizeans and that it was the Immigration Department that
would be coming to meet with the community. Participants also said that the misinformation from the Alcalde may
have influenced the low turn-out.

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Fig. 3. Chart showing the categories of communities the Commission has met with to date

Representation of Villages TMLRC Consulted with to
Date
16 15
14
Number of Communities

12
10 9 9
8
6
4
2
0
Schedule A Schedule B Schedule C

Categories of Communities

Fig. 4. Chart showing the percentage composition of preferred land tenure of communities in Toledo
District, Belize

Preferred Land Tenure in Maya Communities

12

22

3

3

Non-communal Lands Communal Lands Mixed Approach Unknown/Not Specified

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Discussion:
The first two community meetings were held in mid-June while the consultant,
E.A. Ross Q.C., was in the country. One benefit of having the consultant
present for those initial meetings is that it afforded the Commissioners an
opportunity to conduct the presentations in conjunction with him, as well as
gave them an opportunity to witness how he responded to the questions posed
to the Commission. Thereafter, a follow up debriefing between the
Commissioners and consultant was held on improving the presentation and
follow up discussion (see APPENDIX 5: The Power Point Presentation). These
meetings crafted the process for the subsequent consultations, which were held
between July-September, 2016. During these consultations, many of the
communities expressed similar concerns and the issues arising from the
meetings are grouped in categories.
By way of general guidance, the consultant made reference to information
readily available on the internet (to which he subscribed) that in very broad
terms, a general understanding of the concept of “aboriginal title” can be
gleaned from the following statements:
a. Aboriginal title is a common law doctrine that the land rights of indigenous
peoples to customary tenure persist after the assumption
of sovereignty under settler colonialism. The requirements of proof for the
recognition of aboriginal title, the content of aboriginal title, the methods of
extinguishing aboriginal title, and the availability of compensation in the
case of extinguishment vary significantly by jurisdiction. Nearly all
jurisdictions are in agreement that aboriginal title is inalienable, except to
the national government, and that it may be held either individually or
collectively.
b. Aboriginal title was first acknowledged in the early 19th century, in
decisions in which indigenous peoples were not a party. Significant
aboriginal title litigation resulting in victories for indigenous peoples did
not arise until recent decades. The majority of court cases have been
litigated in Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United
States. Aboriginal title is an important area of comparative law, with many
cases being cited as persuasive authority across jurisdictions. Many
commentators believe that the doctrine is applicable in all common law
legal systems.
c. Aboriginal title is also referred to as indigenous title, native
title (particularly in Australia), original Indian title (particularly in the United
States), and customary title (particularly in New Zealand). Aboriginal title
jurisprudence is related to indigenous rights, influencing and influenced by
non-land issues, such as whether the government owes a fiduciary duty to
indigenous peoples. While the judge-made doctrine arises from

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customary international law, it has been codified nationally by legislation,
treaties, and constitutions.
The American courts in Fletcher v. Peck [1810] 10 U.S. 87 had proposed the following:
A doubt has been suggested whether this power extends to lands to
which the Indian title has not been extinguished. What is the Indian title?
It is a mere occupancy for the purpose of hunting. It is not like our
tenures; they have no idea of a title to the soil itself. It is overrun by them,
rather than inhabited. It is not a true and legal possession . . .. It is a right
not to be transferred but extinguished. It is a right regulated by treaties,
not by deeds of conveyance. It depends upon the law of nations, not
upon municipal right.
In stark contrast, we have the comments of Chief Justice McLachlin (Chief Justice of
Canada) from our modern era, who wrote in Haida Nation v. British Columbia [2004]
S.C.J. No. 70. in reference to Aboriginal title:
Put simply, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples were here when Europeans
came, and were never conquered. Many bands reconciled their claims
with the sovereignty of the Crown through negotiated treaties. Others,
notably in British Columbia, have yet to do so. The potential rights
embedded in these claims are protected by s.35 of the Constitution Act,
1982. The honour of the Crown requires that these rights be determined,
recognized and respected.

To quote from the Delgamuukw decision and the encouragement of the Supreme Court
of Canada that some disputes are better settled other than in Court:
As was said in Sparrow, at p. 1105, s. 35(1) "provides a solid
constitutional base upon which subsequent negotiations can take place".
Those negotiations should also include other aboriginal nations which
have a stake in the territory claimed. Moreover, the Crown is under a
moral, if not a legal, duty to enter into and conduct those negotiations in
good faith. Ultimately, it is through negotiated settlements, with good faith
and give and take on all sides, reinforced by the judgments of this Court,
that we will achieve what I stated in Van der Peet, supra, at para. 31, to
be a basic purpose of s. 35(1) — "the reconciliation of the pre-existence
of aboriginal societies with the sovereignty of the Crown".

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CATEGORIES OF ISSUES ARISING FROM MEETINGS

Land Use & Conflicts

1. The priority for many communities is the demarcation of the community
boundaries. Additionally, one community member from San Marcos shared that
they use living fences (fast growing trees) in their community to parcel off the
lands and that sometimes these markers were being moved by persons who
want to expand their piece of the customary land. He wanted to know who could
assist them in resolving these conflicts.

2. According to various communities, the Lands and Surveys Department is not
accepting rental payment for leased land or taxes for titled lands; they are also
not processing the conversion from lease to title despite having accepted full
payment. Many residents have expressed concern that by the time the
Department resumes accepting payment, they would not be able to afford to pay
the arrears, as it is likely that the money would be used for other emergencies.
They stated that they were informed that payments will not be accepted until the
process on implementing the Order is completed. This suspension is of concern
to many, as they wish to continue developing their lands, and therefore needs the
assurance of land security. This is confirmed as per the notice posted at the
Land's Department office in Punta Gorda Town (see Appendix 6).

3. Those who are in favor of lease lands wanted to know how their preference will
be treated and addressed if the majority of the community prefers a customary
land tenure that focuses only on collective property rights. It was explained to
them that the proposed solution will have to take this into account and may result
in a community having both collective and individual land tenure. The decision
lies with the community to determine what is in their best interest. Tenureship,
whether collective or individual will remain with the community.

4. The issue of Toledo Teachers Credit Union (TTCU) issuing loans for the
surveying of lands, which were never completed, was repeatedly brought up.
This reportedly dates back to 2007 when the Minister from the Toledo East
constituency, prior to elections, committed to distributing land with the condition
that those interested would assume fifty percent (50%) of the survey cost. Many
community members borrowed loans from TTCU in order to have their lands
surveyed but unfortunately, the surveys were never completed and the residents
were left to repay loans that many have defaulted. The communities in many
instances decided, that irrespective of the incomplete process they proceeded to

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allot acreages in 20-50 acres block and took possession of it with the expectation
that Government will regularize this at a later date. The fact that tenure is
insecure, loans are in default, and successive area representatives have not
resolved this, contribute to an already existing level of distrust that continues to
date.

5. In Conejo Creek, the residents said that they have the local knowledge of how
their lands are being used in their community and unlike with individual
properties, they have access to several parcels of land rather than being
restricted to only one piece. This practice of having access to multiple parcels of
land supports their slash and burn practices, which is their traditional form of
farming. Therefore, their preference is to continue to utilize their land based on
their own customary land tenure practice.

6. The residents from Barranco9 wanted to know if anything can be done to stop the
Mayas from establishing new communities, as has been the practice.
Additionally, they also wanted to know what can be done to stop undocumented
immigrants from making claims over lands on the basis that they are Maya.

7. The residents of Mafredi10also wanted to know what can be done about the
Mayas who have settled on land that is, according to them, leased or owned by
non-Maya. They reported that they are having conflicts with San Antonio and
referenced the boundary between them. Both of these communities have been
long established, with San Antonio being the second oldest Maya community and
Pueblo Viejo being the oldest in Southern Belize.

8. It was brought to the Commission’s attention that in some communities, some
residents use their lease-lands while also having access to land that is used
collectively by the community as per customary practices. The concern raised is
that these individuals are, in essence, benefitting from the dual system that exists
in some of the communities. In many instances where this has occurred it is
because their lands have been degraded, the land is not arable or because they
want to separate their permanent crops from run away fires that occur in some
instances with traditional farming practices. As a result of the aforementioned

9
It should be noted that Barranco is the oldest Garinagu settlement in Belize and that they are also considered
Indigenous Peoples. UNESCO for the first time awarded the title of "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangibles
Heritage of Humanity" to the Garifuna Language, Dance and Music, this was one of the nineteen declared.
www.unesco.org/bpi/intangible_heritage/belize.htm
10
Predominantly an East-Indian Community

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reasons, they use lands that have been reserved by the community for those
who do not have lease or titled lands and especially for the young people who
are coming of age.

9. In Bladen, it was shared that Mr. Sebastian Cal, the Alcalde of San Isidro11
community along with Mr. Sanchez, the San Isidro Lands Committee Chairman
are giving people permission to cut logs in the Swasey Bladen Forest Reserve.
According to the community members, these people are issuing permits and are
claiming that there exists a by-law which grants them authorization to issue
permits. It must be noted that the Forest Department does not have the power to
delegate its duty to grant logging permit or concession and therefore, this is
illegal and can result in legal action. The community of Bladen also shared that
they are experiencing encroachment from the community of Bella Vista and that
many of those responsible for encroaching are undocumented Central American
immigrants.

10. Community members in San Jose reported that large tracts of virgin forests are
being cleared (possibly from undocumented immigrant from across the border).
The community members fear that at the rate they are clearing, the deforestation
may soon extend to the Columbia River Forest Reserve and within the area that
they consider their community lands.

11. San Jose has a very active Village Council that works closely with the Alcalde.
As a result, the Village Council has appointed a lands committee to resolve land
conflicts related to land in the community, especially those involving residents
who hold lease land but also use land reserved for collective practice. They
reported that they are developing their own by-laws in order to address the
concerns. After the meeting, a woman approached the Commissioner stating that
the Village Council plans to remove her from the reserved land but that she has
permanent cacao crop which is very valuable and labour intensive and takes 2.5-
5 years to start producing. When asked if she has lease land, she indicated that
she doesn’t but that her husband does but that she and her children farm on the
reserve land and she uses that money to send her children to school.

11
San Isidro is not a legally recognized village by the local government, and according to the residents it should not
be considered a Maya Village. They merely adopted the Alcalde system because of the founder's experience from
living in a Maya village. The majority of the community members are Hispanic, with the minority being Maya.

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12. Community members from Midway reported that the TAA/MLA are telling them
that their lease lands will be taken away and will now be held under customary
land tenure, and that the basis for this change is because of the judgment of the
court.
13. Midway community members have also expressed concerns about claims they
have made of the parceling and distribution of lands by Government to Dr.
Francis Arzu. The Midway community members claim that this was done without
any consultation with the community, and this has left the community with a small
amount of land. In some instances, the land that has been surveyed and issued
includes lands farmed by Midway community members with permanent crop.
This contradicts the report given by Barranco, as their claim is that Midway was
settled on lands that were historically farmed by the Garinagu of Barranco and
that a Maya family sought permission from Mr. “Shorty” Cayetano to live in the
area. Permission was granted and this allegedly provided an opening for other
Maya to settle on the lands.

14. A great frustration shared in a few communities is that undocumented immigrants
are claiming land while bonafide Belizeans, especially retired soldiers who have
given years of service to the country, have no farmland when they return home.

15. Conejo Creek wanted to know if the community can cancel logging concessions
that the Government has granted if, as a community, they feel that the activities
for which the concessions are granted are unsustainable.

16. Of the fifty (51) communities in Toledo District, eighteen (18) shared which type
of land tenure they prefer. Not all communities shared their preference as this
was not the objective of the meetings. Mr. Ross had advised that it would be
premature to ask them to make a decision since it was evident that they were not
knowledgeable about the Order; however, some communities nonetheless
insisted that they were clear on their position.

Pro Customary lands
San Vicente *12, Dolores*, Conejo Creek

12
Communities with * (asterisk) indicate that they were one (1) of the twenty –three(23) communities that are
Appellants/Claimants

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Pro non-Customary Land
Sunday Wood
Lucky Strike
Midway*
San Pedro Columbia
Bladen*
San Marcos*
San Felipe*
Big Falls
Na Luum Ca
Blue Creek*
San Antonio*
Silver Creek

Mixed (Both customary and non-customary lands)
Crique Sarco *
San Miguel*
San Jose

Toledo Alcalde Association/ Maya Leaders Alliance

17. The question of the nature of the relationship between TAA/MLA and the
Commission was raised on several occasions. It was also queried if TAA/MLA
has a copy of the Consent Order, as they are inconsistences between the
presentations made by the Commission and those made by TAA/MLA.

18. A few communities have cited TAA (see notes beneath Table 1) as the entity
they wish to represent them in the negotiations.

19. Some expressed that they wish to see MLA/ TAA at meetings so that they can
also benefit from the explanation of the Order. The Commission explained that
the purpose of the meetings was for the benefit of the communities since the
Commission has conducted separate meetings with the TAA/MLA and that the
Consent Order was arrived at based on the agreement of all parties.

20. One reason given as to why some of the residents support TAA/MLA is because
at one point they were the only ones who were listening to their concerns, as the
Government was allowing outsiders to acquire their lands.

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Concerns from Non-Mayas

21. Community members of Barranco raised the concern that this Order will infringe
on their rights as Indigenous Peoples and is discriminatory. They wanted to know
if the Commission will accept a position paper from them on the issue. They fear
that they will be railroaded in this process and that the importance of their cultural
heritage will be decimated in light of all the focus being placed on the Maya
people. The response to their question is that the Terms of Reference embraces
and goes beyond the wording of the Consent Order and applies the spirit of the
Order to all Indigenous Peoples in Toledo.

22. Those residents also wanted to know what will be done to protect non-Mayas
who live or own lands in Maya communities. The Commission explained that any
proposal to implement the Order must be down within the confines of the Belize
Constitution.

23. Other ethnic groups that are represented in Toledo District believe that
customary lands give small groups of people access to large tracts of lands.

Consultation Process

24. Many communities wanted to know how soon they can articulate to the
Commission whether they are in support of customary land tenure or not. The
position of the Commission is that they can articulate and submit any concerns to
the Commission at any time either by individual or community concern.

25. At numerous meetings, the community members reported that they had met with
Mr. Joseph Estephan and based on the dialogue, they were left with the
impression that he was operating on behalf of the Commission. The Commission
made it abundantly clear that he is neither a staff member nor a Commissioner. It
was explained to them that Mr. Estephan is one of the founding members of
Toledo Association for Individual Land Rights, the umbrella NGO lobbying for
individual land title in the communities.

26. Some communities informed the Commission that no consultation was carried
out in their community before government was taken to court and that TAA/MLA
often only dialogues with the Alcaldes.

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27. During the meetings, some communities claimed that they were not aware that
they were listed as Claimants/Appellants to the case, as their Alcalde signed on
without the knowledge of the community. The Commission is of the opinion that
the process is beyond determining the accuracy of this statement and is working
on the TOR that not only includes but exceeds the Order.

28. In the case of San Lucas, they were surprised to discover that they were not
parties to the litigation as, according to the Alcalde, the TAA/MLA had informed
them that they were. The Commissioner explained that they can be included in
the discussion as Government is not limiting the opportunity only to those Maya
communities listed as Claimants/Appellants. The Alcalde also informed the
Commission that he is a member of the Steering Committee that the TAA has
established.

29. San Marcos was particularly upset that they were not consulted by their Alcalde
prior to being listed as Claimants/Appellants. As the discussion proceeded,
previous leaders stated that they had indeed consulted with the community but
that the community members did not attend the meeting; therefore, the decision
was made by those present at the meeting. The community members then stated
that they therefore wanted the decision to be revisited.

30. Only a small number of people were aware of the content of the Consent Order.
The exception was in Big Falls. Generally, the level of awareness in the
communities that were listed as Appellants/Claimants was that they had "won"
customary land rights; however, they did not know what that meant.

31. A few communities wanted to know if they can opt out of the process as they are
not in agreement with customary land tenure. They prefer to own lands so that
they can pass it on to their children. The Commission notes this and will address
this matter at a later date.

32. Punta Gorda Town and the nearby five (5) non-Maya communities stated that the
Commission has disrespected them because they were grouped together for the
meeting rather than the Commission going into the individual communities for
meetings as held in the other communities. The decision to hold the joint meeting
was made during the consultations with the zone meetings held with community
leaders.

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33. The Punta Gorda Town Council provided the venue for the joint meeting;
however, there was no one from the Town Board represented at the meeting.

34. The Commission also met with representatives from various NGOs that work in
the Toledo District. From those meetings, the following matters were raised:
a. The need for women's participation in the consultation process.
b. Land conflicts: San Pablo has cut lines into the Maya Mountain North
Forest Reserve and TIDE has experienced some conflict with Maya
communities over privately held lands that buffer Big Falls.

Distrust

35. At the beginning of each meeting, the Commissioners asked for the participants
to sign the attendance sheets. Many were reluctant to do so and explained that in
the past attendance sheets were falsely presented for other purposes (i.e. for
petition purposes or as signatures in support of resolutions they did not agree
with, some claimed that their names and signature has appeared in documents
that they did not endorse.)

36. In one meeting, the participants asked for photos not to be taken as sometimes
these are used for unauthorized purposes authorized or in support of positions
they do not endorse.

37. In Corazon Creek, the participants noted to the Commission that their willingness
to meet should not be interpreted to mean that they are not in support of their
traditional leaders. Their purpose is so that they can make an informed decision.

38. It was expressed that the community members feel that in the past they were
undermined by Government departments, and even NGOs, so there is some
measure of distrust.

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Matters Related to the Commission

39. Several people wanted to know if the Commission has a timeline that they are
working with.

40. Some articulated that there should be Maya representation on the Commission.
The Commission explained that this is the Government’s Commission in partial
satisfaction of its undertakings to the CCJ.

41. Some persons feel that the appointed Commissioners are not adequately
knowledgeable about the pertinent issues. This Commission is operating on its
Terms of Reference, which it understands.

42. Several persons were interested to know how the three hundred thousand dollars
($300,000.00 BZD) of the Special Fund is being used. Their understanding was
that the money was to be distributed amongst the Maya people. The Commission
explained that the money is process money and is either compensation or
reparation money.

43. Some community members expressed gratitude to the Commission for hearing
the views of the people and said that TAA/MLA often does not seek out their
views and in some instances; they only see them drive into the community and
go directly to the Alcalde.

44. During a conversation with a community member from Bladen, it was shared that
the community’s reluctance to meet with the Commission dates back to a grudge
held against Commissioner Alamilla from since she was a Minister over an issue
which did not pan out in their favor. It was explained that the decision of who is
appointed to the Commission is made by the Government in partial satisfaction of
its undertaking of the CCJ.

45. Many of the communities wanted to know when the Commission will commence
with follow-up meetings as they are eager to proceed with the process.

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Challenges

46. There is conflict between the Maya and Hispanic people in Trio as none of the
Maya people were informed of the community meeting held by the Commission.

47. The meeting in Midway almost did not take place. This is because the
Commission received conflicting messages from the 2 nd Alcalde and the Village
Chairman. Both men came to the office on separate occasions. The 2nd Alcalde
came to inform that he had not been able to organize the meeting and therefore,
he did not want to inconvenience the Commission to drive to a meeting that was
not organized. He however, stated that he would set another date and would
inform the Commission. Not long after, the Village Chairman visited the office to
confirm the meeting because he had gotten reports that the Commission has a
reputation for arranging meetings and not showing up and that he had already
informed his councilors and others about the meeting and he did not want them
to be upset with him for calling a meeting that would not occur. When we went to
the community, the people were indeed expecting us. This brought the
information from the 2nd Alcalde into question. It was also brought to the
attention of the Commission that some of the Alcaldes who were given the
invitations for the meeting with the Commission were not informing the rest of the
community leaders and the community at large.

48. Despite increasing the number of invitations to nine (9), the challenge is that the
customary practice is for the 1st Alcalde to instruct the Village Police to inform the
community about meetings in their community and since the Village Police does
not take instructions from the Village Chairman, even if the Chairman is in
agreement but the 1st Alcalde is not, the community members may still not be
informed.

49. Scheduling a meeting after a fajina is the preference of the communities as this is
when men from the ages of 16 to 60 are required to partake in any project that is
of benefit to the community, for example the cleaning of the cemetery, cleaning
of the school compound, or the repair of school, and as such it gives the
Commission the greatest access to men in the communities. However, this does
not account for the women, as they are not expected to participate in the fajina.

50. In San Vicente, it was brought to the Commission’s attention that the Alcalde
approached the Village Chairman seeking his signature on a letter denying the
Commission’s request to meet. The Chairman refused to sign and the Alcalde

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later explained that he was attempting to prevent the community meeting on the
advice of Mr. Pablo Mis, the spokesperson of TAA. According to the Alcalde, Mr.
Mis was discouraging the Alcaldes from facilitating the meeting on the basis that
the Commission did not want to meet with TAA and that the Commission will try
to sway the people from choosing customary land tenure that is enshrined in
Order. The position of the Commission is that together with the Maya people a
“customary land tenure” that works will be developed. Together we will craft a
definition of customary land tenure for all involved.

51. In others instances the leaders were informed that they should not meet with the
Commission, as they Commission will try to ‘trick’ them out of their lands.

52. Upon speaking with a few community members in the communities where they
refused to meet with the Commission, reasons not to meet include:
a. Reluctance to meet with the Commission because they felt disrespected
over the incident in which some of the leaders were asked to leave the
office of the Commission (Appendix 7: Incident Report).
b. There is a misconception that the Maya have already ‘won’ so they view
these meetings as being unnecessary as they have now secured
ownership of their lands.
c. They believe that the Commission should be dialoging with the TAA/MLA
as they have been the ones representing their interests from the onset.

53. On several occasions, the Commission received complaints concerning land
distribution and land conflicts. This remains a challenge for the Commission, as
the Commission does not have the authority to resolve land conflicts or to
intervene where they view injustices of land distribution within the existing
traditional system. The Commission is therefore faced with community members
frequenting the office seeking to lodge a complaint involving a land.

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Scheduled meetings that did not take place.
The reason why the Commission was unable to meet with the remaining 18
communities varied among the communities. Of the communities with which the
Commission did not meet,
a. Nine (9) communities suggested in writing that they were not willing to
meet; seven (7) of these communities were parties to the litigation
(Appendix 8: Sample of Letters submitted to the Commission).
b. Five (5) communities gave no formal notification that they were unwilling
to meet with the Commission (they just did not show-up, but the
Commission did travel to the communities prepared for the meeting). Of
those five (5) communities, three (3) were parties to the litigation. In the
instances where the communities did not show up for the scheduled
meetings, the Commission took the opportunity to speak with random
community members and/or community leaders and wrote a field report on
the conversations held.
c. The 2nd Alcalde from one (1) community, Laguna, visited the office and
relayed to the Commission that the proposed time and date were not
convenient.
d. One (1) community, San Pablo, did not accept delivery of the invitation
letters; and
e. Two (2) communities, San Benito Poite and Jordan, will need to be
rescheduled to a later date (preferably during dry season) since three
attempts to access the communities was impossible due to flooding.

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Some communities submitted a letter informing the Commission that they would not be
meeting with the Commission because the meeting was in breach of the consultation
framework that was put forth by TAA (Consultation Framework is annexed to this
report). The list of those communities is contained in the following table:

Table 3: List of communities which refused to meet with the Commission
No of notice Date of response from
Date letter Date of day13 community with a letter
Community was proposed signed by either the
delivered meeting Alcalde & Village
Chairman or both
Aguacate*14 7-Jul-16 15-Jul-16 9 18-Jul-16

Bella Vista 18-Aug-16 23-Sep-16 39 No response

Crique Jute* 10-Jul-16 14-Aug-16 35 8-Aug-16
42 No response/Commission
Dolores* 8-Jul-16 19-Aug-16
showed up
Golden 33
5-Jul-16 7-Aug-16 18-Jul-16
Stream*
Jalacte* 8-Jul-16 17-Jul-16 9 18-Jul-16
17 In-person response by the
Laguna* 9-July-16 26-Jul-16
2nd Alcalde
44 No response/Commission
Mabil-Ha 7-Jul-16 19-Aug-16
showed up
Not
Machkil-Ha Not applicable 18-Jul-16
applicable
Medina Bank* 9-Jul-16 15-Jul-16 6 20-Jul-16

Midway* 6-Jul-16 21-Jul-16 15 19-Jul-16

Otoxha* 6-Jul-16 15-Jul-16 9 No response

San Isidro 5-Jul-16 7-Aug-16 34 27-Jul-16
21 No response/
Santa Ana* 6-Jul-16 27-Jul-16
Commission showed up
Santa Cruz 8-Jul-16 25-Jul-16 17 18-Jul-16

Santa Theresa* 7-Jul-16 8-Aug-16 33 18-Jul-16

a. Machakil-Ha is the exception in that they did not even wait to receive an invitation
from us before submitting a letter preempting the community meeting.
b. In Dolores, the Alcalde advised the Commission that he forgot to organize the
meeting as they were dealing with an emergency involving one of the police
officers. In the same conversation, he later stated that he needed to get

13
According to the TAA consultation framework they require a 21-day notice.
14
Communities with * (asterisk) identifies those that were Appellants/Claimants to the case.

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TAA/MLA advice before agreeing to re-schedule another meeting with the
Commission.
c. The 2nd Alcalde from Laguna came by the office the day of the scheduled
meeting and informed us that the proposed meeting time and date was not
convenient and that he would like to reschedule at a time a date that is mutually
convenient date; no further contact has been made.
d. In another instance, one of the Alcaldes from Aguacate was trying to convince a
Commissioner that she missed the date that the meeting was scheduled for and
that he had called the meeting. She asked if he had the letter and when he
shared it with her it was on the date that she was there. Conversation with
random community members indicated that they were informed about the
request for the meeting but that they were told it was not necessary; furthermore,
the Village Police was never informed otherwise as per their custom.
e. The Alcalde from Mabil-Ha (not an Appellant/Claimant) stated that his community
was not going to meet with the Commission because the Alcaldes were not
welcomed at the Commission’s office. He also stated that he does not believe the
Commission’s presentation about the Consent Order as TAA/MLA is saying
something different. He believes that the Commission is trying to divide the Maya
people and expressed belief that the $300,000 BZD should be given to the
communities to better themselves. (If that is so it is contrary to the position taken
by the legal counsel of the TAA/MLA.)
f. The nine (9) communities that submitted letters to the Commission indicated that
the TAA Steering Committee is their chosen representative. Na Luum Ca (not an
Appellant/Claimant) indicated that they wish TAA/MLA to represent them. Crique
Sarco has identified SATIIM as the entity they wish to represent them.
It was brought to the attention of the Commission that some of the Alcaldes were not
informing the fellow leaders of the Commission’s request to meet, and therefore nine
(9) copies of the invitations were delivered at every community - for the 2 Alcaldes
and 7 village councilors. Also, based on the feedback which the Commission
received from several communities, the Commission began giving a minimum of a
21-day notification of the intended meetings in accordance with the Consultation
framework. The Commission also amended the invitation to include a provision for
communities to contact the Commission if the time or date for the meeting needed to
be rescheduled for convenience (APPENDIX 10). To date, no village has
approached the Commission to re-schedule meetings and it is reasonable to
conclude that for the communities which responded in writing, the meeting time/date
was not the issue, but that they were acting upon the advice of TAA/MLA.

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Concerns and Recommendations

1. Confirmed in the consultations is that each community is autonomous and that
the ultimate decision making body for each community is a collective decision
arrived at by the community members. The level of inclusiveness varies from
community to community, however. In some communities, only the older, mature
men participate, while elders (both men and women), women, and young people
are excluded. In some, young men and women are invited but their input is not
sought or considered. In other communities, all persons have an opportunity to
contribute to the decision-making. The leaders may participate in groups or
organizations but those groups or organizations have no authority to represent
the individual community. Also, neither the Alcalde nor Village Council can cede
their community’s decision-making power to any group or organization, and they
should not make unilateral decisions on behalf of their community.

2. In some communities, the Alcaldes are transparent and make an effort to consult
with their communities before making a decision that may affect the community.
In other communities, the Alcaldes adopt an autocratic style of leadership and
often make decisions for the communities without soliciting their input. This was
supported by several of the communities claiming that they were not consulted
by their Alcaldes before they were listed as parties to the litigation which was
brought against the Government.

Based on this, it is the view of the Commission that decisions related to the
implementation of the Order should be supported by evidence that the
community has been consulted and has made an informed choice. As each
village is autonomous, the ultimate decision making body for each village
ought to be a collective decision arrived at by the villagers. To diverge from
this this is to undermine the autonomy of each village and to make villagers
invisible and/or voiceless. Groups or organizations have no authority to
represent the individual village; and neither the Alcalde nor Village Council
can cede their community’s decision-making power to any group or
organization, and they should not make unilateral decisions on behalf of their
community.

3. Various customary practices contravene the protection guaranteed by the
Constitution. For example, there are cases where widowed women lose access
to lands their husbands farmed to a male not related to her. In San Vicente, this

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was the experience of an older woman. Her deceased husband’s land had
already been assigned to another man, she protested and the community
overturned its decision. The outcome in San Vicente is not typical, as women are
socially and culturally expected to submit to the men. The argument made by
some is that men confer with their wives and therefore, the decisions ultimately
have their input.

4. Overall, years of marginalization has resulted in a culture isolation and enclaves
which not only excludes the voice of women, but also has the capacity for abuse
and must be reigned as a matter of urgency if the undertakings of the
Government to the CCJ are to come to fruition.

5. During the course of our continued interaction with the affected people, it has
been brought to the attention of the Commission that sometimes the actions of
the Alcaldes are inconsistent with the expectations of the people. For example,
the Commission has gotten reports of community members being arbitrarily
removed from their lands by some Alcaldes and the same land given to another
person. At times, the Alcalde remain inactive in the face of land conflicts.

A consensus must be developed which honors the Constitution of Belize and
the Consent Order. Any proposal, notwithstanding customary practices, that
contravenes the Constitution must not be allowed to be perpetuated. To
achieve this requires the cooperation of the Maya people and/or their
representatives, failing which, the Commission will have no alternative but to
unilaterally create a starting point process and discussion document with
draft timelines and objectives which capture the objective of its Terms of
Reference and seek input from all affected parties.

6. There have been reports of people destroying other farmers' crops, and despite
reports to the Alcaldes, there was no intervention. One such incident involved a
gentleman from San Antonio who was having border issues with a community
member from Santa Cruz. He reported that his crops were destroyed and when
he approached the Alcalde for assistance, nothing was done. He also visited the
office of the TAA/MLA to ask for assistance but none was forthcoming. He also
informed the Commission that he submitted letters pleading for assistance.

7. Similarly, a gentleman from San Pedro Colombia advised the Commission that
the community members have been trespassing on the lands that he had been
occupying for thirty-seven (37) years, since 1979. He approached the

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community leaders for assistance but that proved futile. Furthermore, he
informed the Commission that he was told by TAA/MLA that there are no more
private lands and that all lands are now Maya lands. He explained that a
foreigner, who had contracted him as caretaker, in fact owns the land but after
the initial two months, he had no further contact with the owner and any of his
representatives but he remained working the land without any monetary
compensation as per the original agreement.

8. If practiced properly, slash-and-burn agriculture can be sustainable. However,
many communities are no longer doing only subsistence farming, but are
involved in commercial farming particularly targeting the corn, beans and
livestock markets in Guatemala, which has expanded the agricultural frontier.
Consequently, the fallow periods for the farmlands have been shortened to three
(3) years as opposed to the ideal seven (7) years, which compromises the ability
for the land to recover naturally. This is compounded by population growth that
has reduced the number of plots assigned to each farmer.

The communities must be presented with clearly defined plain language
options for land tenure and each given an opportunity to vote as to their
preference so that it accommodates those who are unwilling to voice their
opinions at the community-wide meetings, and also allows for the elders,
women and youth to have a say. Voting should include any Belizean
resident or citizen residing in the respective village who is either married or
18 years and older; proof of residency or citizenship must be shown.

Moreover, all proposals should take into consideration future generations
and their need to access land and other natural resources.

9. One of the role of the Village Council is to recommend land distribution, while the
role of the Alcaldes is to maintain law and order in the communities; however in
application, this varies in the communities, as some Councils assert their
authority while others relinquish control to the Alcaldes. Due to the uncertainty in
authority, the Chairmen in a few communities have arranged for the community
consultations to take place even if the Alcalde was not in support. Conflict
between the Alcalde system and the role of the Village Council makes working in
the communities difficult and gives fodder to the accusations that the
Commission does not respect the leaders.
Village Council Act
o In accordance with the Village Council Act the responsibility of the Village

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Council in relation to land distribution is to only make recommendations to
the Ministry with responsibility for land for the distribution of lands in the
village. This can be done through a Lots Committee constituted by the
Village Council. This responsibility is pursuant to section 47 (1) (b) of the
Village Councils Act, Cap 88 of the Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised
Edition 2011. The relevant section is below.
o "47.–(1) The council shall have the following privileges, duties and
responsibilities with respect to lands within the village,
o (b) the council may constitute itself a Lots Committee or may appoint a
Lots Committee under section 14 of this Act hereof to make
recommendations to the said Ministry with regard to the distribution of lots
and lands within or affecting the boundaries of the village; "

Alcalde Jurisdiction Court
o With regards to Alcalde Jurisdiction Court, its civil jurisdiction does
not extend to determining land matters. This is stated at section 70 (2)
(a) of the Inferior Courts Act, Cap 94 of the Substantive Laws of Belize,
Revised Edition 2011. The section states,
o "70. – (1) Subject to subsection (2) of this section, the civil jurisdiction
which the court has, and is capable of exercising, is to hear and
determine,
o (a) all disputes in which the debt or damages claimed, whether on balance
of account or otherwise, or the value of the chattel claimed or involved,
does not exceed twenty-five dollars;
o (b) with the consent in writing of both plaintiff and defendant, all disputes
in which the debt or damages claimed, whether on balance of account or
otherwise, or the value of the chattel claimed or involved, exceeds twenty-
five dollars but does not exceed one hundred dollars.

(2) The court shall have no power to hear and determine,
o (a) any action relating to possession of land or in which the title to any
corporeal or incorporeal hereditaments is in question; or
o (b) any action for libel, slander, malicious prosecution, seduction or
breach of promise of marriage."
o The Alcalde Jurisdiction Court has the power to hear and determine both
civil and criminal matters, but to a very limited scope as stated at section
70 and 73 of the Inferior Courts Act, Section 73 states,
o 73.–(1) The criminal jurisdiction which the court has, and is capable of
exercising, is to hear and determine the following criminal offences,
o (a) riotous and disorderly conduct and breaches of the peace;
o (b) common assaults;
o (c) trespass and malicious injury to property, the damage resulting from
which does not exceed twenty-five dollars;
o (d) larceny and praedial larceny where the value of the goods or articles
does not exceed twenty-five dollars;
o (e) threatening and abusive language;

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o (f) fraudulent evasion or attempted evasion of customs duties where the
value of the goods or articles does not exceed twenty-five dollars;
o (g) the commission of any wanton or mischievous act causing damage or
annoyance to any person. "

Commission will, in consultation on a community-by-community basis, establish
eligibility of rights to use and occupy lands subject to customary land tenure.

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APPENDIX 1: Population of communities in Toledo District at last census (2010)15
Village Population Village Population
Aguacate 369 Medina Bank 237
Barranco 157 Midway 240
Bella Vista 3,508 Na Luum Ca NA
Big Falls 1,406 Otoxha 262
Bladen 466 Pueblo Viejo 433
Blue Creek 366 Punta Gorda 5,351
Boom Creek NA San Antonio 1,204
Cattle Landing 266 San Benito Poite 543
Conejo Creek 210 San Felipe 353
Corazon Creek 188 San Isidro 375
Crique Jute 223 San Jose 849
Crique Sarco 328 San Lucas NA
Dolores 460 San Marcos 623
Elridgeville 514 San Miguel 537
Forest Home 479 San Pablo 250
Golden Stream 349 San Pedro Columbia 1,703
Graham Creek NA San Vicente 441
Indian Creek 721 Santa Ana 290
Jacintoville 337 Santa Cruz 386
Jalacte 769 Santa Elena 200
Jordan NA Santa Theresa 370
Laguna 257 Silver Creek 476
Lucky Strike NA Sunday Wood 285
Mabilha 205 Trio 899
Machakil Ha NA Yemeri Grove 265
Mafredi 149

15
In the in the Population and Housing Census 2010 country report, some communities which the Commission did
not recognize were listed. It is possible that these are not actual villages, but rather small settlements. On the
other hand, some well-known villages were not included in the census report; therefore, we were unable to obtain
the population statistics for those villages.

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APPENDIX 2: List of communities and languages predominantly spoken in each

Community Language Community Language
Aguacate Q’eqchi’ Medina Bank Mopan & Q’eqchi’
Barrano Garifuna & English Midway Q’eqchi’
Bella Vista Spanish & Q'eqchi' Na Luum Ca Mopan
Big Falls English Otoxha Q’eqchi’
Bladen Q'eqchi' & Spanish Pueblo Viejo Mopan & Q'eqch'
Blue Creek Mopan Punta Gorda English
Boom Creek Spanish San Antonio Mopan
Cattle Landing English San Benito Poite Q’eqchi’
Conejo Creek Q’eqchi’ San Felipe Q’eqchi’
Corazon creek Q’eqchi’ San Isidro Mopan & Q'eqchi'
Crique Jute Mopan San Jose Mopan
Crique Sarco Q’eqchi’ San Lucas Q’eqchi’
Dolores Q’eqchi’ San Marcos Q’eqchi’
Elridgeville English San Miguel Q’eqchi’
Forest Home English San Pablo Q’eqchi’
Golden Stream Mopan & Q'eqchi' San Pedro Columbia Q’eqchi’
Graham Creek Q’eqchi’ San Vicente Q’eqchi’
Indian Creek Q’eqchi’ Santa Ana Q’eqchi’
Jacintoville English Santa Cruz Mopan
Jalacte Q’eqchi’ Santa Elena Mopan
Jordan Q’eqchi’ Santa Theresa Q’eqchi’
Laguna Q’eqchi’ Silver Creek Q’eqchi’
Lucky Strike Q’eqchi’ Sunday Wood Q’eqchi’
Mabil-Ha Q’eqchi’ Trio Q'eqchi' & Spanish
Machakil-Ha Q’eqchi’ Yemeri Grove English
Mafredi English

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APPENDIX 3: Categories into which communities were divided
Schedule A Schedule B Schedule C
Golden Stream Big Falls Barranco
Aguacate Boom Creek Bella Vista
Bladen Conejo Creek Mafredi
Blue Creek Corazon Creek Cattle Landing
Crique Jute Graham Creek Elridgeville
Crique Sarco Lucky Strike Forest Home
Dolores Mabil-Ha Jacintoville
Indian Creek Machakil-Ha Punta Gorda
Jalacte Na Luum Ca Trio
Jordan San Felipe Yemeri Grove
Laguna San Jose
Medina Bank San Lucas
Midway San Pablo
Otoxha San Pedro Columbia
Pueblo Viejo Santa Cruz
San Antonio Santa Elena
San Benito Poite Silver Creek
San Felipe Sunday Wood
San Marcos
San Miguel
San Vicente
Santa Ana
Santa Theresa

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APPENDIX 4: Dates Commission held community meetings
Name of Community Date of Meeting
Barranco 21-Jul-16
Big Falls 18-Jun-16
Blue Creek 19-Jul-16
Boom Creek 26-Jul-16
Conejo Creek 19-Aug-16
Corazon Creek 16-Jul-16
Crique Sarco & Graham Creek 18-Jul-16
Indian Creek 24-Sept-16
Mafredi 4-Sept-
Midway 21-Jul-16
Na Luum Ca 21-Aug-16
Pueblo Viejo 23-Jul-16
Punta Gorda, Yemeri Grove, Jacintoville, Elridgeville, Forest Home, 3-Sep-16
Battle Landing
San Antonio 20-Aug-16
San Felipe 17-Jun-16
San Jose 20-Jul-16
San Lucas 4-Sep-16
San Marcos 27-Jul-16
San Miguel 20-Aug-16
San Pedro Columbia 21-Aug-06
San Vicente 24-Jul-16
San Vicente 24-Jul-16
Santa Elena 23-Jul-16
Silver Creek 16-Jul-16
Sunday Wood & Lucky Strike 18-Jul-16
Trio 20-Aug-16

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APPENDIX 5: PowerPoint Presentation presented to communities

Slide 1

The Toledo Maya Land
Rights Commission
A presentation and discussion on the
Court Order
CCJ Appeal No BCV2014/002

Slide 2

“One Hand Can’t Clap”

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Slide 3

Land
Land Rights
Land Tenure
Land Title

Slide 4

The Belize
Constitution

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Slide 5

By consent it is ordered and declared that:

1. The judgment of the Court of Appeal of Belize is affirmed
insofar as it holds that Maya customary land tenure exists
in the Maya Villages in the Toledo District and gives rise
to the collective and individual property rights within the
meaning of sections 3 (d) and 17 of the Belize Constitution.
DECLARATORY

Slide 6

By consent it is ordered and declared that:

2. The Court accepts the undertaking of the Government
to adopt affirmative measures to identify and protect the
rights of the Appellants arising from Maya customary
tenure, in conformity with the constitutional protection of
property and non- discrimination in sections 3, 3(d), 16
and 17 of the Belize Constitution. ULTIMATE
OBJECTIVE

In regards to the Constitutional constraints as set out in the order, it is for the Government to
prescribe these constraints. Therefore, the Government must also be heard and its position
documented. (paragraph 2)

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Slide 7

By consent it is ordered and declared that:

3. In order to achieve the objective of paragraph 2, the Court accepts
the undertaking of the Government to, in consultation with the Maya
people or their representatives, develop the legislative,
administrative, and/or other measures necessary to create an
effective mechanism to identify and protect the property and other
rights arising from Maya customary land tenure, in accordance with
Maya Customary laws and land tenure practices. CONSULTATIVE
PROCESS TOWARD THE OBJECTIVE

Based on Government’s obligation the Commission should chart a way for the Government to,
consult with and accommodate the Maya of Toledo, Belize as they exercise whatever rights they
might have which arise from Maya customary tenure (paragraph 2 of the order) and/or Maya
customary land tenure (paragraph 3 of the order).

Slide 8

By consent it is ordered and declared that:
4. The court accepts the undertaking of the government that, until such time
as the measures in paragraph 2 are achieved, it shall cease and abstain from any
acts, whether by the agents of the government itself or third parties acting
with its leave, acquiescence or tolerance, that might adversely affect the value,
use or enjoyment of the lands that are used and occupied by the Maya villages,
unless such acts are preceded by consultation with them in order to obtain their
informed consent, and are in conformity with their hereby recognized property
rights and the safeguards of the Belize Constitution. This undertaking
includes but is not limited to, abstaining from:

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Slide 9

By consent it is ordered and declared that:

a) issuing any leases or grants to lands or resources under the National Lands Act or any
other Act;
b) registering any interest in land;
c) issuing or renewing any authorizations for resource exploitation, including concessions,
permits or contracts authorizing logging, prospecting or exploration, mining or similar
activity under the Forests Act, the Mines and Minerals Act the Petroleum Act or any other
Act.
INTERIM PROTECTIVE ORDER

Slide 10

By consent it is ordered and declared that:
5. The constitutional authority of the
Government over all lands in Belize is
not affected by this order.
DECLARATORY

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Slide 11

By consent it is ordered and declared that:

6. The Court shall determine the
remaining issue in this case, namely
the Appellants’ claim for damages.
NOW DATED

7. There shall be liberty to apply.
ACESSS TO THE COURT

Slide 12

By consent it is ordered and declared that:

8. The Appellants’ costs of this appeal and in the courts below shall be agreed
by 30th April or taxed. NOW DATED

9. The Court retains jurisdiction to oversee compliance with this order and
sets 30th April 2016 for reporting by the parties. OVERSIGHT BY THE
COURT

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Slide 13

The Role and Responsibility of the Commission

• At this time, the Commission role will be investigatory and to
report.
• At this time, the Commission does not have the capacity to
determine or deny any rights.
• Howev er, in the future, this does not preclude the Commission
from making any recommendations to government based on
consultations and research.

Slide 14

T h a n k Y o u

Thank You
Thank You
Thank You

Thank You

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APPENDIX 6: Notice at posted at the Department of Land, Punta Gorda, Toledo, notifying communities
that all land transactions are temporarily suspended.

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APPENDIX 7: Incident Report

Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission
#9 Front Street, Punta Gorda Town,
Toledo District, Belize, Central America
Phone: +1(501) 722-0407

Date: May 17, 2016

Incident Report
Toledo Alcalde Association and the Maya Leaders Alliance interrupts
planned meeting with Village Leaders from Zone One

On May 16, 2016 village leaders from 9 Maya villages showed up at the
Commission’s headquarters on an invitation to attend a meeting. The meeting
was scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m.; however, because of registration we got
off to a late start.

Upon observing a crowd of men downstairs the Chair went by the door to ask if
they were attending the meeting, they responded that they were but that they
were waiting for someone. It was then that she realized that something was
afoot. She messaged legal counsel that she needed advice. She then returned
to the conference room to inform those already in the room that registration
was almost complete and that the meeting would start shortly.

She then went back to check on registration and upon entering the reception
area, she saw a large group of men along with the president of the Toledo
Alcalde Association, when asked what he wanted he said he wanted to speak with
the Chair. The Chair invited him to her office, when in her office, he said he
wanted to make a statement. However, acting on legal counsel, the Chair told
the men that there was a planned meeting, with an agenda and invited guests

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that was already running late and that she cannot engage in another meeting
with them, she told them that the scheduled meeting was not a public meeting
and that if any of the leaders from that particular zone wanted to join the
meeting they were welcomed. She also informed them that if their observer was
as present then that person was also welcomed to join the meeting. The Chair
left her office and headed to the conference room. She went back into the
conference room to get the large paper that listed of villages for zone one
were listed and using that explained from what villages the leaders invited
were from. She reiterated that she would be willing to meet with them at
another time but that she must proceed with her scheduled meeting. During this
time, some of the participants who were waiting in the conference room came
out and they started talking to each other in Q’eqchi’. (Spelling)

She again informed them that the meeting was not a public meeting and that
those who were not from the listed villages should vacate the premises. During
this time, Cristina Coc, who was standing next to the Chair, started fiddling
with her phone, the Chair instructed her to leave the premise and to not video
tape or make any recording.

While the group was not behaving intimidating, the Chair thought it was best
to call on the police for assistance to dispel the crowd rather than risking
an escalation of the situation. However, by the time the police got to the
office the crowd had already left and the scheduled meeting ran without
further incident. (END)

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APPENDIX 8: Sample letters submitted by the villages to the commission
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APPENDIX 9: Original letter of letter of invitation for a meeting

Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission
#9 Front Street, Punta Gorda Town,
Toledo District, Belize, Central America
Phone: (501) 722-0407

MEMO

To: Village leaders

From: Lisel Alamilla
Date: July 1, 2016
Subject: Commission meeting with the community

The Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission (TMLRC) hereby extends an invitation to the
villages of Jalacte to meet with the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission. The meeting is
scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on July 17, 2016 at the community center.
The purpose of the meeting is to inform community members of the role of the Commission and
to present the content of the Consent Order. Time will also be allotted to address any questions
you may have. We urge all to attend as this meeting will cover some important points.
If there are any further questions, please feel free to contact us at telephone number 722-0407.

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APPENDIX 10: Amended letter of invitation for a community meeting

Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission
#9 Front Street, Punta Gorda Town,
Toledo District, Belize, Central America
Phone: (501) 722-0407

MEMO
To: Village Alcaldes and Village Council
From: Lisel Alamilla
Date: August 10, 2016

Community Meeting
September 2, 2016; 6:00 p.m.

The Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission (TMLRC) hereby extends an invitation to
the village of Dolores to meet September 2, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
The purpose of the meeting is to inform community members of the role of the
Commission and to present the content of the Consent Order. Time will also be allotted
to address any questions you may have. We urge all to attend, as this meeting will
cover some important matters as it relate to Maya customary land right and land tenure.
If your community is unable to accommodate the date then please propose another
date and time that is convenient to you, but please be aware that the Commission is
meeting with all 50 villages in the Toledo District so it may be some time before we can
accommodate your request.
If you have any questions, please come by our office or call us at telephone number
722-0407.

for Lisel Alamilla,
Chair of the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission

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