Today August 9th is recognized as International Day of the World’s Indigenous People and also marks the 10th anniversary of the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In commemoration of the celebration, today the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) launched a Maya Lands Registry which seeks to protect the rights of the Mayan community of Crique Sarco located in the Toledo District.
Back in 2015, the Caribbean Court of Justice ordered the Belize government to create an ‘effective mechanism’ that will serve to identify and protect the property and other rights arising from Maya customary land tenure, in accordance with Maya customary laws and land tenure practices. But while two years have gone by and still no mechanism has been established, the residents of Crique Sarco decided to take matters into their own hands and sought assistance from SATIIM to address the problem.
Together both parties developed a Mayan model that identified traditional territorial boundaries and resolved boundary conflicts that can be applied nationally. We understand that SATIIM will continue to work with Crique Sarco so as to develop an inventory of their land usage and customary governance practices which in addition to the maps will outline Maya jurisdictional and individual land rights for a complete Registry listing.
Executive Director of SATIIM, Froyla Tzalam, indicated, quote “This is an historic moment, a big step in a long process ahead. We celebrate that the Maya have taken the initiative to implement the CCJ order.” End of quote.
Crique Sarco is the first Maya community to seek assistance from SATIIM’s to prepare for the legal mechanism specified in the 2015 CCJ ruling.