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#421527 - 11/10/11 08:08 AM Satiim Rages At Oil Company, Dept Of Geology  
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SATIIM, the Sarstoon Temash Institute For Indigenous Management has lashed out at oil company US Capital energy which it says is encroaching on protected land.

SATIIM alleges that US Capital Energy has been operating in the Sarstoon Temash National Park and is getting ready to do seismic testing without any information given to or consultation with the surrounding Mayan and Garifuna Communities.

SATIIM says the government is operating in deliberate secrecy while the Department of Geology says the community leader have been consulted and have consented, and now SATIIM is saying that's a straight-up lie.

SATIIM maintains that neither the Forest Department nor the Department of Geology have told them what kind of permit has been issued to US Capital Energy.

SATIIM is now demanding proof of the agreement or consent with the landowners of the area.

Channel 7

#421529 - 11/10/11 08:11 AM Re: Satiim Rages At Oil Company, Dept Of Geology [Re: Marty]  
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Oil Company aims for Barranco Village

In the south, there’s also trouble brewing. SATIIM, the Sarstoon/Temash Institute of Indigenous Management, one of the more established NGOs, is coming out strong against seismic testing taking place in a national park. The oil company, U.S. Capital Energy, has been spotted since October twenty-fifth in the area and is reportedly resuming testing within the Sarstoon/Temash National Park in the Toledo District. Led by Alistair King, U.S. Capital’s country representative in Belize, the oil company has established a temporary nerve center in Barranco Village from which all operations in the area will be executed. The STNP is co-managed with the surrounding Q’eqchi Mayan and Garifuna villages, and according to SATIIM, the government has kept them in the dark over a permit issued to the oil company. Trees have been cut for two seismic lines in Sunday Wood Village and SATIIM alleges that more will be slashed in the area of Crique Sarco. Earlier this year Prime Minister Barrow said that geophysical exploration in the south would continue following a favorable ruling for U.S. Capital delivered by Justice Samuel Awich. According to Executive Director Greg Ch’oc, SATIIM has made numerous requests for information from both the Forestry and Geology & Petroleum Departments concerning the status of an initial permit granted to U.S. Capital Energy in 2009. Ch’oc told News Five via phone this afternoon that they are still awaiting a response from the relevant agencies as to whether the permit given to U.S. Capital has expired. He also says that contrary to recent statements made by Director of Geology and Petroleum Andre Cho, landowners whose properties border the national park are unaware of the resumption of testing in the area and neither did community leaders give their consent.

Greg Ch’oc

Greg Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM

“The current situation is that US Capital Energy has arrived in Barranco, to be more specific, and have set up their operations. This occurred over the last two weeks. We have been trying to get information from the Geology & Petroleum Department as well as from the Forestry Department from as way back as, I think, April of 2010, after the initial permit that was granted to them in 2009 had expired. We have not received any response whatsoever from either one of the departments. So when we learned that U.S. Capital Energy had started operations in the Barranco area we again communicated to the Forestry Department requesting an update on what kind of permit was issued or has been issued to U.S. Capital Energy and to date we have not received any response. So on Monday we had a meeting with village leaders and all of them, all of them, we had about twelve community leaders from twelve villages in the Sarstoon/Temash region. We had about eight that reached to the meeting, the others who could not reach was because there was no bus from those communities. All of them categorically stated that they were not aware, they had not been informed about U.S. Capital Energy’s activities in the area.”

Isani Cayetano

“That is contrary to what Mr. Andre Cho was saying in other parts of the media where he pretty much said that these people were knowledgeable of it and they may have given their consent for this activity to occur outside of the national park.”

Greg Ch’oc

“Well what we found out from the community and even from our experience with the two departments of government is that that is totally inaccurate. It’s false and it has no basis in facts because I would like for Mr. Andre Cho to disclose to the public, to disclose to the public the documentation that exists where the communities gave their consent or landowners gave their consent because I would assume that all of these would be in writing, you know. Furthermore, this morning Forestry Department would call us to say, “Have you received all the faxes that we have been sending?” And I said to them, “We have received no fax.” I asked them to send us the fax report that would show when a fax has been sent and whether it was received or not because we have no knowledge or we did not receive any fax from the Forestry Department. The only one we received was from Ms. Beverly Castillo who informed me that the Deputy Prime Minister was unable to meet with me on November first as I had indicated in my letter to him.”

Channel 5

#421541 - 11/10/11 08:40 AM Re: Satiim Rages At Oil Company, Dept Of Geology [Re: Marty]  
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Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage Supports SATIIM’s Call for Transparency and No Oil Exploration in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park

Belize City, Belize, November 9, 2011 - - The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage supports the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) in its position regarding oil exploration in the Sarstoon Temash National Park by US Capitol and calls on the Government of Belize to stop oil exploration in the protected area. The Coalition also calls on the Ministry of Natural Resources to be transparent and discontinue the practice of hiding public information, including approved permits provided to oil companies to explore in protected areas.

Protected areas in Belize have been designated as “protected” to safeguard ecosystem services such as the provision of clean water, clean air and food, and to maintain biodiversity. In addition, both marine and terrestrial protected areas are the primary tourist visitation sites in the country.

Secrecy in contracts and operations of the extractive industries, including the petroleum industry, has long been associated with corruption and the failure of a resource rich country to further human development, also known as the resource curse. Helen Clark, the administrator for the United Nation’s Development Programme (UNDP) in an article on “Avoiding the Resource Curse” said: “For natural resource revenue to benefit a country’s citizens, its management must be transparent throughout the contracting process” and she urges the involvement of those who are most likely to be “impacted by resource extraction”. Clark notes that many of the impacted communities are indigenous communities and that the rights of those impacted must be “protected and their development needs met.”

It seems that despite the numerous case studies of countries who have fallen prey to the resource curse, Belize is insistent about walking this same path and becoming another resource curse case study.

The Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage calls on the Government of Belize to rescind its policy of allowing oil exploration and exploitation in protected areas and in our marine waters through by cancelling all leases issued within these areas, and protect the livelihoods and health of all Belizeans. The Coalition also urges government to institute transparency measures in its management of the petroleum industry.

#421636 - 11/10/11 11:12 PM Re: Satiim Rages At Oil Company, Dept Of Geology [Re: Marty]  
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APAMO wants transparency and accountability

The recent revelation of seismic drilling in the south is stirring up resentment among environmentalists. The Association of Protected Areas Management Organization, APAMO, also a member of the umbrella group Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, has issued a press release on oil exploration in the Sarstoon Temash National Park. In Wednesday’s newscast Executive Director Greg Ch’oc, on behalf of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, implored government to come clean with information regarding seismic testing being conducted in the area by U.S. Capital Energy. APAMO, like SATIIM and the coalition, similarly requests transparency and accountability about new permits issued for geophysical exploration within the park. The release says that, “it is unacceptable that indigenous communities have been prevented from extracting resources from national parks and made to follow the law while powerful companies are given unilateral permission to explore for oil in the same area without proper consideration for the environment, the indigenous communities and their culture.” APAMO also reaffirms its objection to oil exploration and drilling offshore as well as within protected areas. According to Ch’oc vegetation has been cleared in Sunday Wood Village for two seismic lines to be followed by another in the area of Crique Sarco.

Channel 5

#422204 - 11/16/11 08:09 AM Re: Satiim Rages At Oil Company, Dept Of Geology [Re: Marty]  
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BELPO says STOP US Capital Energy activity

A license to US Capital Energy for seismic testing in southern Belize is coming under sustained fire. Earlier today, the Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy, BELPO, said it supports SATIIM’s position of last week calling for a moratorium on drilling by US Capital Energy in the Sartsoon-Temash National Park. BELPO says it is against seismic testing, oil exploration or drilling in protected areas. BELPO is also asking government to stop the secrecy and corruption and to be transparent by providing copies of the permits which were granted to US Capital Energy. It is also calling for the cancelation of all the “illegitimate oil contracts.” Above all, BELPO says the government must respect the rights of the people, follow the law and stop US Capital Energy activities immediately.

Channel 5

#423730 - 11/30/11 08:15 AM Re: Satiim Rages At Oil Company, Dept Of Geology [Re: Marty]  
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Petroleum exploration opens new routes for Guatemalan incursions: SATIIM

Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria confirmed to our newspaper today that the Government is dispatching a multiagency mission of staff from the Department of the Environment, the Forest Department, the Petroleum and Geology Department, and the Lands Department, to look into reports to the media by the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), that US Capital Energy’s petroleum exploration activities occurring inside the national park have opened new arteries being exploited by illegal loggers, putting the integrity of the national park in serious peril and compromising the nation’s territorial integrity.

SATIIM, in a statement issued late last week, called on Government to require the American oil company, US Capital Energy, to cover the costs of monitoring and patrolling the park, due to what it describes as “unprecedented access” caused by the running of seismic survey lines through the park.

The NGO, which co-manages the national park, complains that, “The seismic lines, which originate from the banks of the Sarstoon River, cut right across the park. One of the first lines cut along the Temash River has been flagged with tapes, and the mangroves have been cut clean an estimated 10 feet from the river’s edge.”

Alegria told our newspaper that the cutting should never go right up to the river’s edge. The law has a 66-foot requirement, and they need to respect that as much as possible, he told us.

The lines of seismic, SATIIM said, “cut across the park all the way to the Guatemalan border, providing a quick getaway for poachers and loggers.”

Whereas some may see this as a merely environmental concern, SATIIM notes that this is also a national security concern: “These illegal activities threaten not only an important preserve of the national park, which is of global importance, but also Belize’s territorial sovereignty.”

They note that, “On November 15, 2011 SATIIM rangers and Belize Defence Force personnel began a four-day monitoring mission of the STNP. Inside the park, they encountered US Capital Energy operations in full rig: seismic lines cut, workers drilling, boats travelling up and down the river transporting workers, etc....

“Since the seismic trails have been opened up, remnants (trunks and pieces of timber) of illegal logging and hunting activities were observed. The poachers have cut smaller trails from the lines to areas deep in the park.”

They also say that illegal loggers alert each other via cellular phones when patrols are in the area.

They are calling on the government to suspend seismic activities until authorities can figure out how to mitigate the negative effects of those activities.

Alegria told us that he would be able to address the specific concerns of SATIIM after the monitoring mission to the area tomorrow, Tuesday.


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