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.