The Mayas VS. GOB, Round Two

Very early this morning - at around 2:00 - villagers from the remote southwestern Toledo District started loading up into busses to make the long journey to Belize City.

They arrived around 8:30 to show the solidarity of their communities in the case of the Attorney General versus the Mayan Leaders Alliance, the Toledo Alcalde's Association and others.

The Mayans won that and an entitlement to customary land tenure in June of 2010 but now government is throwing all its resources into an appeal to try and have that declaration overturned.

The hearing started today and to demonstrate that they are un-intimidated - even when going up against the state - over 100 Mayans descended on the city and filled up the courtroom today. We found them at battlefield park:

Jules Vasquez Reporting
With the lilting strains of marimba music coming FROM battlefield park you might have thought that it was a cultural day.

But 3 busses of Mayans from the Toledo district were in front of the Supreme Court building to take a stand

Ligorio Coy, chairman Mayan Leaders Alliance
"We left at 2 o' clock this morning and we are travelling."

Jules Vasquez
"From 2am? From what villages?"

Ligorio Coy, chairman Mayan Leaders Alliance
"From Crique Sarco, Dolores, Jalacte, San Vicente and all of those villages to the back."

Jules Vasquez
"Ok now I see that your people have crowded into the courtroom, they are standing up in there. Why is it important to have that presence actually in the courtroom?"

Ligorio Coy, chairman Mayan Leaders Alliance
"Because we are united. We believe in unity and we believe in justice as well. We believe in our rights."

Christina Coc, Mayan Leaders Alliance
"It's important for us to show the state that we are a people of unity, we are a people of perseverance and we understand what we are fighting for and one day out in the sun to listen to the court hearing and even if we all can't fit in the courtroom it's a statement to say that 'look we are willing at all cost to fight for our right to life.'"

That right to life is a right to communal lands:

Ligorio Coy, chairman Mayan Leaders Alliance
"Our great grandfather has taught us to do farming, without our land we cannot survive. We can't depend on jobs from politicians, they promise many jobs but there are only a few."

Christina Coc, Mayan Leaders Alliance
"I can tell you that this is not the first time that we have come to Belize City. This is not the first time that we have woken up 2-3 o' clock in the morning and travel to Belize City. This is how determine we are as a people, we don't have any free lunches today, I can tell you that. People are here because they know why they are here."

Ligorio Coy, chairman Mayan Leaders Alliance
"Yes we feel offended and we feel discriminated because they treat us like we are not Belizeans and like we don't exist in this world."

The Alcaldes, and Chairmen filled the courtroom and were scattered throughout the park:

Christina Coc, Mayan Leaders Alliance
"This issue is not about land it is about a people's right to define their own life and to define their own development. This goes for all Belizeans, everybody should be standing up and saying 'look, we need to let our state know that we will determine our future."

The hearing of the appeal is expected to continue through tomorrow until Monday. Government is represented by Lois Young while Antonette Moore appears for the Mayan communities.

Channel 7