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Free Prior and Informed Consent – A must in Belize

April 4th, 2014:  SATIIM, the foremost environmental and human right organization in Belize along with four indigenous Q’eqchi’ Maya communities have achieved another monumental legal victory yesterday.  The Belize Supreme Court Justice, The Honourable Michelle Arana declared:

  1. That the decision of the Government of Belize to allow oil drilling and road construction in the National Park is irrational and Wednesbury unreasonable, that decision having been made without the free prior and informed consent of the indigenous Maya communities;
  2. That the decision of the Government of Belize to allow oil drilling and road construction in the National Park is in breach of the legitimate expectation of the indigenous Maya Peoples, that the Government of Belize would comply with their obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to respect the rights of Indigenous Maya Peoples to their lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired;
  3. ORDER directing the Government of Belize to obtain free, prior and informed consent from the indigenous Maya peoples with respect to any contract permit or licence that falls within the National Park.

 SATIIM and the indigenous Maya Peoples urge the Government of Belize and US Capital Energy to immediately comply with the ruling. Armed with this latest judgment, the communities are currently engaged in  meetings aimed at reaching consensus on definitive actions considering that US Capital has publicly stated they will not comply.  The communities so far have agreed  that they will no longer tolerate the Government of Belize and US Capital Energy to continue to violate their rights and undermine the rule of law.

Mayans Claim Victory In Court, US Capital Clings To Status Quo On The Ground
Major court ruling in favor of SATIIM, but oil company says it will continue drilling
Attorney Michael Peyrefitte maintains that SATIIM wants money
SATIIM’s Attorney calls on U.S. Capital to denounce disparaging remarks made by its attorney
Maya Communities Win Judgment in Court
Justice Arana reaffirms Maya land rights!
Maya Leaders Claim Victory Against Government and US Capital Energy

Punta Gorda March 18th, 2014: On October 23rd, 2013, arguments ended in the case between SATIIM and the indigenous communities, and the Government of Belize. Justice Arana reserved judgment.

One would expect that a law-abiding and socially responsible company would suspend its activities out of respect for the Belizean justice system until a judgement was delivered. Not so with US Capital Energy. In fact, they continue to conduct themselves as though there are no claims before the Supreme Court of Belize. US Capital Energy, most likely with the blessing of the Government of Belize, has been working around the clock engaging in pre-drilling activities, which are part-and-parcel of exploratory drilling operations. These activities, from our view, continue to violate the National Parks System Act and the Rights of the Indigenous Communities.

SATIIM adjourned the injunction it filed in July 2013. This was because US Capital informed SATIIM and the Court that they would not drill until December 2013. As a consequence of letters to the parties associated with the oil contract requesting for information on the activities in the park, the Attorney General’s Ministry, in a letter dated February 10, 2014, informed the Court and SATIIM’s legal Counsels that no drilling will happen before March, 2014. The Attorney General was acting on behalf of the defendants named in SATIIM’s claim, including US Capital Energy.

US Capital Energy’s legal counsel said: ‘ Needless to say, though there is no injunction in place and your clients abandoned their injunction claims the company will not commence actual drilling unless the court allows it to’. The images we provide below are contrary to these claims and are another naked truth about the intentions of the parties associated with this oil contract. It amounts to a ‘Stop me if you can’ attitude.

In light of the increased pre-drilling activities by US Capital Energy, SATIIM and the communities have no other choice but to apply to the Supreme Court for an injunction. Court documents were filed on March 12th, 2014.

SATIIM-PressRelease (12.8 MiB)


Position available immediately

Finance and Administration Manager

SATIIM is an indigenous community-based organization, which promotes and protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and safeguard the ecological integrity of the Sarstoon Temash Region and promote the sustainable use of its resources for its Indigenous Peoples economic, social, cultural, environmental, and spiritual wellbeing.

SATIIM is looking for a highly motivated individual for the position of finance and administration manager. The manager’s primary responsibility will be to ensure the effective and efficient financial and administrative functions of SATIIM. The manager will play a critical role in collaborating with the Executive Director and Board in strategic decision-making and operations as SATIIM continues to enhance its quality programming and build capacity. The manager leads, develops, and supervises an internal team to support the following areas: finance, business planning and budgeting, administration and human resources and management.

SATIIM is looking for an individual that has the following skills and qualifications

  • University degree in finance, accounting or other related field
    • Three or more years of financial management and staff administration in an NGOs is required
    • Proven experience in working with Quick books accounting software is required
    • Demonstrated experience and skills with budget preparation and analysis, financial reporting preparation and presentation and the proven ability to translate technical financial data into informative reports
  • Strong accounting skills and experience
  • Prior management experience and strong organizational skills
  • Fluent in oral and written English
    • Experience in grants management and an understanding of donor regulations is an advantage
    • Ability to prioritize multiple tasks and meet deadlines
  • Result orientated and organizational capacity.
    • Ability to work with a team in an intense environment

Interested individual can obtain copies of detail TOR for the position by writing to

Interested individual should send their application with three references clearly labeled: Finance and Administration position to Administrative Secretary at 81 Main Street, Punta Gorda.  Or email documents to  Only finalists will be contacted.

Deadline for application is Tuesday November 26, 2013.

Friday October 25th, 2013:

The Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) and the four Maya Q’eqchi communities’ case concluded on Wednesday October 23rd, 2013, before Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana.  SATIIM, Midway, Conejo Creek, Crique Sarco and Graham Creek filed the claim on July 22, 2013, after the Government of Belize approved an environmental compliance plan (ECP) and provided a permit for US Capital Energy to drill for oil. SATIIM and the four Maya communities contend that the Government violates their rights to Free Prior and Informed Consent as customary land owners when it granted US Capital Energy the green light to drill on Maya ancestral lands and inside the Sarstoon Temash National Park; territory which also forms part of Maya ancestral lands.  SATIIM and the four communities’ legal counsel argued in court that the EIA consultation process cannot be a substitute for the State’s obligation to obtain the Indigenous Peoples’ Free Prior and Informed Consent as required by domestic and international laws. SATIIM, as legal representative of the four indigenous communities, and the members of the communities maintained that they were never consulted. Justice Arana reserved her ruling for a date to be announced.

Images of the hearing


Media reports on the hearing:

Text transcript-


Text transcript-


Text transcript-

The Community Development Program recently focused on creating an Indigenous model of food sovereignty and sustainable development. As a result of UN- and EU-funded pilot projects, the combination of modern sustainable soil and Mayan practices tripled corn yields and increased plant resilience to documented climate changes.
As a result of the recent ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice that the Belize government legalize communal Maya land, this program is now focused on creating a replicable model of community-led mapping and demarcation, leading to the country’s first Maya Land Registry. SATIIM is also leading peer-to-peer trainings in Maya-led mapping and demarcation with communities in Guatemala.