he destruction of Noh Mul, the northernmost Mayan city of old in the Orange Walk District, is not only a cultural disaster.
It is a sacrilege!
The mushroom remnant of the main pyramid is not only an ugly scar upon the landscape. It is also a scar on the social consciousness of the people of Belize .
How could something so awful be allowed to happen? It could only have occurred in the Rambo-town ambience of the Republic of Orange Walk!
Noh Mul is a pre-Columbian Maya city which dates back to 350 BC .
The site is noted for its unusual layout, with its urban or ceremonial precinct spanning the crest of ridge overlooking the Rio Hondo, some seven miles from Orange Walk Town.
This site occupies about 12 square miles, and must have been a bustling city in its day. It includes 10 plazas and more than 80 separate structures, most of them built during the Pre-classic or Classic period.
On Monday, May 13, the largest temple structure at Noh Mul was destroyed by road workers using bulldozers and excavators to remove large portions of the central pyramid as gravel and limestone to be used as road fill material near the village of Douglas.
Noh Mul sits on private land. The owner apparently gave permission for the contractor and his agents to take the gravel and fill material from the land.
The owner must have known that the land contained the Mayan relics of a city clothed in antiquity. If it can be shown that the owner did not take adequate measures to protect the ancient city, he should be in for the high jump, and what is left of Noh Mul should be taken from him by acquisition.
Likewise the contractor and his agents who went in search of road fill material, should be held responsible.
If it can be shown that they knew about Noh Mul, they also are responsible for the desecration and must be held accountable before the law.
The penalties prescribed for this kind of offence are puny when compared to the damage they cause.
Penalties prescribed under the law cannot compensate for the cultural loss our country has sustained.
But a vigorous application of the law will deter others who either out of arrogance or ignorance might be tempted to ignore the law, which protects the cultural heritage of Belize.
The responsibility of the Government of Belize does not stop there, however. It has a clear duty to amend the law to put more teeth into it.