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SATIIM Dissatisfied With US Capital Consultations

July 13
12:31 2018
Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter

US Capital Energy has begun preliminary consultations with villages in southern Belize as part of the procedure for applying for a new oil concession; however, the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) is not happy with the way the consultations are being carried out.

SATIIM Executive Director, Froyla Tzalam, explained that she was still in the process of gathering information on the consultations, but that initial reports indicate they were poorly planned and “haphazardly” executed. 

Tzalam also said that the meetings she was briefed on did not provide any substantial information on the concession such as the timeline for the proposed start of exploration or the exact area in which the activities would be occurring. Tzalam noted that US Capital has had a history of poor communication with Maya villages, but SATIIM remains hopeful given the involvement of the Caribbean Court of Justice through a consent order.

 

“We have the highest court overseeing the process, so we have an opportunity to see that what is being done is held to the highest standard,” Tzalam said.

The Reporter was reliably informed that the Alcalde of Midway Village refused to call the public meeting because of the extremely short notice given by the Government of Belize that the consultations were pending. Sources also said that the execution was so poor that one village received an invitation letter which was addressed to another village.

During its first round of oil exploration, US Capital Energy was embroiled in controversy with the Maya communities located in the Sarstoon Temash National Park. The communities took US Capital and the Government of Belize to court in 2013, because GOB granted the oil company a permit without the company obtaining their free, prior and informed consent.


The court battle lasted years, spanning the entire scope of the judicial process in Belize, ultimately ending with the Maya communities securing the win at the CCJ. US Capital had reportedly spent around US$40 million in the first round of oil exploration activities but did not strike oil within the time limit of its license. GOB will be considering their new application sometime this year, once all the prerequisites are met.

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