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#430243 - 02/11/12 02:34 PM Conejo Village Leaders Tell US Capital: Clear Out!
Marty Offline
The Village Leaders from Conejo say they don't want US Capital Energy shooting seismic trails through their village lands. They have written to the chief forest officer and the director of petroleum making it clear that the villagers do not want US Capital's seismic trails on their village lands.

Now US Capital has gotten the signatures of 32 men who they say are from Conejo and work with the company. But the Chairman and Alcalde have now signed a latter saying that only 23 villagers work for US capital and besides, it doesn't matter the, quote "cannot deprive the entire Conejo community of its rights over its entire property."

And they say they want compensation for the teials that have already been cut. The villagers are now requesting that a cease and desist order be issued to US Capital Energy. According to SATIIM the De4partement of Petroleum and Geoelogy has promised to do just that.

SATIIM's statement says quote, "This is a landmark action by an indigenous community, proving that the judgments of the Supreme Court can be enforced on the ground through a collective resolve not to be pressured by economically powerful interests."

Channel 7

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#430448 - 02/14/12 02:56 PM Re: Conejo Village Leaders Tell US Capital: Clear Out! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
MAYA LEADERS DISCUSS WAY FORWARD IN ROSEWOOD INDUSTRY

Maya village leaders met at the weekend to discuss the current rosewood harvesting situation in the Toledo district.

Paul Mahung reporting...
“The Saturday morning meeting in Punta Gorda was coordinated by the Toledo Alcaldes Association under the leadership of Chairman Alfonso Cal.

Alfonso Cal – Chairman
“The objective of this meeting with alcaldes and village chairpersons, they are raising their concern that what is happening in the Toledo District. In the Toledo District with the rosewood you know that as a Maya people we always think of our future generation to come and now it is the awareness that we are trying to come together what can we do as a leader to try and correct the wrongdoing, how they were harvesting our rosewood because the rosewood is very important to us, it is indigenous because the Maya people use it and so we are collecting some ideas with our leaders, what can we do next."

The meeting also had the support and participation of Maya Leaders Alliance under the leadership of Chairman Ligorio Coy. MLA Chairman Coy also highlighted some of the major concerns brought up at the meeting.

Ligorio Coy – Chairman
“There are some villages that are receiving recommendation from the Minister, I don’t know where but first of all I must say we had the alcalde and Chairman there to recommend these individuals that have interest in extracting rosewood so it has to come from the entire village.”

The attendance sheet indicated that those at the meeting were from 23 Mayan communities in Toledo and the 55 participants included Village Alcaldes, Mayan Village Council leaders as well as representatives of the Maya Leaders Alliance, Toledo District Association of Village Councils, TIDE, Satim and Xa'che.

LOVEFM

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#430729 - 02/17/12 03:05 PM Re: Conejo Village Leaders Tell US Capital: Clear Out! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BELPO calls on GOB to help Conejo Villagers

Twenty-three employees from Conejo Village in the south were fired by U.S Capital Energy last week. The problems started when the residents complained that a seismic testing line was running through the village. The Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management believes that the firings were an act of spite because Capital Energy did not get a license to place explosive on the line. The Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy is also in solidarity with the villagers. Speaking with News Five via Phone, Candy Gonzalez, President of BELPO, said that they are calling on Government to follow through with its promise to the people of Conejo.

Via Phone: Candy Gonzalez, President, BELPO

“Mostly because we support the villagers in terms of seeking the upholding of the Supreme Court decision of 2007 where the Supreme Court decided that the villagers had the right to hold the village as a collective and traditionally held as the Mayas have held the land all along and that the villagers had the right to deiced what happened on the land. And the incursions of U.S. Capital Energy needed to go through the Village Council and the system that is set up by the village in terms of how to handle any incursions on to the village property.”

Andrea Polanco

“So I know you are calling on the government to deal with this issue in a timely manner as well.”

Via Phone: Candy Gonzalez

“Well the government has already told SATIIM and the villagers that they would step in and address the problem directly with U.S. Capital Energy except I guess it was the Geology and Petroleum Department and so what we were doing was essentially saying that we hope that the government does act in a timely manner and that this does get done.”

Channel 5


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#430793 - 02/18/12 02:34 PM Re: Conejo Village Leaders Tell US Capital: Clear Out! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Government Concedes to Conejo’s Demands – SATIIM Press Release

February 10, 2012 - Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District, Belize - The Department of Geology and Petroleum will order US Capital Energy to halt its illegal seismic work on Conejo’s communal lands, and remove all seismic markers from the seismic trail it cut through Conejo.

The promise follows a meeting in Conejo on 9 February between Andre Cho (Director of Geology and Petroleum Department), Pedro Cho, Mandela Wade (both of Geology and Petroleum Department), Marcelo Windsor (Forest Department), Anthony Mai (Environment Department), Eufemio Makin (Alcalde of Conejo), Enrique Makin (Chairperson of Conejo), four councilors of Conejo, and Martin Choco (Permitting Officer, US Capital Energy).

The company sacked the entire workforce from the community (23 men) last Thursday because the village did not immediately give US Capital Energy permission to operate the illegal line.

During Conejo’s subsequent village meeting on Sunday 5 February US Capital Energy’s Martin Choco presented to villagers a letter drafted by the company, granting US Capital Energy freedom to conduct seismic work throughout Conejo, and condemning the community’s leadership for objecting to the seismic line. Choco forcefully sought signatures from villagers, telling them they could then return to work.

US Capital Energy’s Alistair King then stated on Monday that the company would, on the basis of this letter, return to conduct seismic work on the trail through Conejo this week. It is important to note that the permit granted to US Capital Energy prohibits the company from entering Conejo’s land.

The majority of Conejo’s adult population then signed a petition asserting that they did not give their free, prior, and informed consent to US Capital’s operations on their land. The leaders fortified this position and communicated it forcefully to the Government’s representatives. This represents the community exercising the rights established by the Supreme Court in 2007, which established that no operations could occur on Conejo’s territory without their consent.

The rule of law has prevailed, however Conejo’s leadership is now waiting for a written copy of the Geology and Petroleum Department’s order to US Capital, instructing them not to proceed with their operations in Conejo and instructing them to remove the markers on the seismic line.

The government has acceded to Conejo’s demand that the rule of law be respected, reinforcing indigenous peoples’ property rights. This is a landmark action by an indigenous community, proving that the judgments of the Supreme Court can be enforced on the ground through a collective resolve not to be pressured by economically powerful interests.

View the original press release here.
View the cease and desist order demand letter here.
page 1, page 2
View the Statement on the meeting with GOB representatives here.
page 1, page 2

###
The Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) is a community based indigenous environmental organization working in the far south of Belize, in a region in the Toledo District that lies between the Sarstoon and Temash Rivers. Their mission is to safeguard the ecological integrity of the Sarstoon-Temash region and employ its resources in an environmentally sound manner for the economic, social, cultural, and spiritual well-being of its indigenous people.


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#430896 - 02/20/12 02:25 PM Re: Conejo Village Leaders Tell US Capital: Clear Out! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Get out and stay off Conejo’s lands! GOB orders exploration company.

The Department of Geology and Petroleum is to order U.S. Capital Energy to halt all seismic work on Conejo’s communal lands, remove all seismic markers from the trail the company has cut through the reserve lands of this Maya Indian village.

Director of Geology and Petroleum, Andre Cho, made the commitment to Conejo’s Alcalde, Eufemio Makin; Conejo’s village Chairman, Enrique Makin and four other Conejo village councillors when they met in Conejo on February 9.

Pedro Cho and Mandela Wade, both of the Geology and Petroleum Department; Forestry Officer Marcelo Windsor; Anthony Mai of the Environment Department; and US Capital Energy’s Permitting Officer Martin Choco also attended the meeting.

The meeting sought to resolve the awkward situation created when the company fired its 23 workers, who were all from the Conejo Village, on Thursday, February 2, because village leaders had not immediately given U.S. Capital Energy permission to operate the seismic line.

Conejo village leaders had called a community meeting to discuss how they would handle the situation on Sunday, February 5.

At that meeting, Choco presented villagers with a letter drafted by the company, which would have granted U.S. Capital Energy freedom to conduct seismic work throughout Conejo lands.

The letter also condemned the village leaders for objecting to the seismic line. He tried to coerce the villagers into signing the letter by telling them they could provide them with jobs.

On Monday, February 6, Capital Energy’s local manager, Alistair King, said that based on the support of those who had signed the letter, the company would return to conduct seismic work on the trail through Conejo lands.

But Capital Energy’s permit to conduct seismic testing expressly prohibits the company from trespassing on Conejo’s lands.

Villagers of Conejo then signed a petition asserting that they had not consented to the company’s operations on their land. The leaders strengthened this position by complaining to the Government’s representatives in no uncertain terms.

In 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that no seismic or other exploration work operations could occur on Conejo’s territory without the free, prior and informed consent of the Village Council.

Now that the rule of law has prevailed, Conejo’s leaders say they want to have the instructions to U.S. Capital Energy written in black and white, and are now waiting for a written copy of the Geology and Petroleum Department’s order.

The Reporter


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