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SATIIM launches Maya Lands Registry

By Benjamin Flowers

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Wednesday, the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) launched a Maya Lands Registry.

SATIIM, in collaboration with the villagers of Crique Sarco developed a Mayan model that identified traditional territorial boundaries and resolved boundary conflicts. The maps are the initial entry in the listing of customary land usage and delineation that will be collected in the Maya Land Registry.

SATIIM noted that in 2015, the Caribbean Court of Justice ordered the Belize government to “create an effective mechanism” to identify and protect Mayan lands in accordance with their traditional governance; however, two years later, no such mechanism exists.

“Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the Court order, Crique Sarco took the matter into their own hands,” said SATIIM Executive Director, Froyla Tzalam. “This is an historic moment, a big step in a long process ahead.”

Tzalam explained that Crique Sarco, was the first village to approach SATIIM and request a mechanism in line with the court ruling. SATIIM also launched a mini documentary explaining the model used for the registry.

In April 2015, the Caribbean Court of Justice reaffirmed that the 38 Q’eqchi and Mopan Maya Indigenous communities of southern Belize have rights to the lands they have customarily used and occupied, which bears equal legitimacy to any other form of property under Belizean law.

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