The Sarstoon Temash Institute For Indigenous Management is calling on all those who are interested in biocultural diversity to stand up and along with them and demand that the government explain why an oil company has been allowed to enter protected land in the Toledo district. Love News spoke by telephone with SATIM’s executive director, Gregory Ch’oc this morning.

Gregory Ch’oc- Executive Director, SATIIM
“We found out that US Capital Energy has commenced seismic activities in the area. We are not aware; we have not been informed whether they have a permit for the activities they are currently carrying out. We had a meeting with village leaders yesterday to find out from them whether they knew of any permit granted to US Capital Energy and they informed us unanimously that none of them are aware of any permit and that they themselves are not aware of what is happening. As we have always said during our campaign to get the Government to recognize that the community do have rights to be consulted, that they should be informed of any activities that may be planned for the area in which they live and in this case also for SATIIM to be informed by the Government should another permit be granted to US Capital Energy. In this case they have completely kept us in the dark, they have kept the community in the dark and I think this is extremely unfortunate in this day and age. We are hoping, we are forwarding a letter to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister requesting an urgent meeting, the village leaders have asked us to make this request because they want to know what exactly they have granted US Capital Energy. Over the next couple of days we will be forwarding that letter to the respective Ministers and departments.” According to Ch’oc, SATIM’s main request is for the Government to, “end the secrecy,” and inform them of their plans in the area. This afternoon, Love News got in contact with Andre Cho, the Director for the Geology and Petroleum Department.

Andre Cho – Director Geology and Petroleum
‘The Company that is working there is US Capital Energy Belize Limited, they had conducted an initial seismic survey comprising of two lines in the Sarstoon Temash National Park in 2009 I believe and now they are doing some additional seismic comprising 119 kilometers, about 50% of that in the Sarstoon Temash National Park and the other 50% outside of the Sarstoon Temash National Park. They recently commenced the seismic survey a couple weeks ago, the company US Capital got permission from the Forest Department to go into the national park to do the seismic and the Forest Department had informed SATIIM. Beside SATIIM, US Capital had to get the permission of the landowners outside the park and the villages so all those landowners and the village, the village alcaldes and the village chairmen know about the seismic survey, they were consulted and permission was requested to shoot the seismic survey in the area which like I said covers about 50% is in the national park and the other 50 is outside, so everybody in the area knows about the seismic survey so I don’t know what SATIIM’s concern is, they are the only ones that can answer that.”

Cho explained that this has been done before and everyone can rest assured that there is no threat to the area.