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Maya leader writes Belmopan Mayor

Your statements are not only explicitly racially discriminatory in nature, but are characteristics of a weak political leader whose attitudes and beliefs are long out of date. This primeval attitude reflects a profound error of perception about the real problem which our leaders, like you, appear to lack the ability to adequately address. The level and kind of assistance requested by you are not only inadequate, but inconceivable in the face of the advances made toward the respect for human rights in the civilized world, particularly Indigenous People.

Additionally, your statement has cemented what we have been saying for many years, and that is, we as a people have been particularly subjected to institutionalized levels of discrimination, exploitation and injustices, on account of our origin, culture and language and that, like many other sectors of our country, we have to endure unequal, unjust and hostile treatment and conditions on account of our economic and social status. This we had hoped to overcome when we reached out to our political leaders to establish a framework under the Ten Points of Agreement to resolve these abuses. Unfortunately, we have not made any progress towards this as a consequence of the present government?s refusal to give the issues the importance they deserve.

Instead, the government has accused us of being separatists, with intentions to ?Balkanize? Belize. In our struggle for our land rights in southern Belize, the government has maintained that we cannot have rights to our land as it affects the rights of other Belizeans. Our fundamental human rights that the state of Belize has an obligation to uphold, continue to be violated under this false premise. No matter where we are or where we go, the State seems adamant about not letting us have ownership of our land and its resources. The lands we seek rights to in Toledo are those we have traditionally occupied and use. There are no competing interests on these lands that we are asking the State to grant us in Toledo. The only competing interests are from those allies of our political leaders determined to control the destiny of our people under questionable deals. Rest assured we will resist all attempts to make us part of the landless people of Central America.

The forcible uprooting of our people, like other sectors of Belizean society uprooted from their communities by economic necessity, is a direct result of government policies or lack of that. While there are standard procedures and institutional structures in place, we know that these very procedures and structures have been inaccessible and have been the main obstacles to remedying the injustices and inequality that plague our society, thus creating situations like the one you are reacting to. We would rather you take a ?clean sweep? and overhaul the system that creates these kinds of situations.

Unless the Belizean society collectively understands the root cause of the conditions in which the Maya People found themselves and recognizes that these present realities have profoundly affected the welfare of our people, you, like the government will continue to disrespect us and respond to the symptoms of the problem rather than the root cause. Denying us our fundamental rights hampers the configuration of a national unity which is supposed to adequately reflect the rich and cultural diverse and multi-ethnic composition of Belize. Any action as proposed by you will not only bring about disturbance in the affected area but will also dampen the spirit of our struggle to overcome the age-old discrimination against us and will further perpetuate wrong doings by those who have no regards for the fundamental rights of the Maya People.

We request for you to desist from taking the hostile actions you intend to take against these Maya Belizeans. Additionally, we expect a full public apology to the Maya People for calling us ?Indians? and for failing to address the plight of the Maya People in question.

Sincerely yours,

(Signed) Gregorio Choc

President, Q?eqchi? Council of Belize

cc: Prime Minister, Hon. Said Musa

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