Greg Choq the leader of the Mayan group Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIM) has accused Dean Barrow of secretly allowing a US oil company US Capital Energy to begin exploration in a National Park in the Toledo District. US Capital indeed lists “Beilze surface oil seep” as one its projects.
The story rings of a novela as Choq and Barrow, former friends are now call each names like betrayer. Barrow had previously represented SATIM as legal counsel, during their dispute with the Musa government concerning the very same oil exploration rights.
Now Choq says, Barrow went ahead and signed over the rights to oil exploration in the area without consulting leaders of the Mayan leaders whose villages are in the affected areas.
Barrow says that this time its different as an environmental impact study was conducted as prescribed by the law and there was no ill-will.
Barrow alleged betrayal of the Mayan people is further exacerbated as he has suspended the only Mayan represenative of his cabinet, Juan Coy, after it was alleged that he ordered customs to return confiscated contraband to one his constituents.
One can only hope that Belize is not becoming a petro-state where the rights of minority groups are cast aside as its leaders are blinded by black gold.
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