The Human Rights Program

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The Human Rights Program is designed to empower SATIIM’s member communities – and ultimately all people in Belize and those with similar struggles across the globe – for full participation in their societies. In Belize, SATIIM’s legal success has inspired other grassroots groups to fighting for a voice in decisions that affect them. Globally, SATIIM continues to inform other Indigenous efforts on how to defend their lands and sustainably manage them according to their cultures. Most recently SATIIM is at the forefront of a nascent regional movement in Maya-led natural resource management and forest protection.

The Institutional Sustainability Program is cultivating a diverse, sustained base of support for SATIIM’s work, particularly as it creates applicable models of Indigenous empowerment and networks for other groups around the world.

A quilt made by 19 women of Midway village, showing animals of the rainforest is being shown at UN Headquarters as part of International Women’s Day.
Here are profiles of the Midway artists: Kongolo, founder of SOS Femmes en Danger, attended the echibition’s unveiling on March 8, and the eleven advocacy quilts will be shown until April 27th.

Tuesday October 9th, an entourage of SATIIM board members and staff travel to GrahamCreek by boat. Upon approaching the Sarstoon River around 9:30 am, SATIIM (vessel Tol-0035) continued its journey by taking the North side of the Sarstoon River, instead of taking the South side around the island (which is the deeper channel of the Sarstoon River). Then we saw a Guatemalan Navy gun boat maneuvering in high speed heading toward our direction. The boat blocked our route forcing us to stop. The Guatemalan vessel had five military personnel.

One of them asked us who we assumed to be the one in charge, to identify ourselves, enquired what we were doing in the area and where we were going. We informed them that we were heading to a community meeting at GrahamCreek, a community inside Belizean territory. He asked if we had documentation (passport, captain license, and vessel papers).

The response to them was that we do not need a passport since we are within Belize’s territory but we had other necessary documents (captain license, vessel documents) that we could have produce. At this point there was a back and fort discussion with personnel from SATIIM vessel and the Guatemalan Navy officers, an attempt to clear up any misunderstanding and to assert our certainty that we were in Belizean waters.

Mr. Choc identified himself as the Executive Director of SATIIM and that SATIIM co-manages the national park, conducts monitoring activities within the area and that the team was on a routine mission to the area. Furthermore, we explained to them that we are from the organization and to verify this we showed them the name of the organization imprinted on the side of our vessel, which clearly states SATIIM and the T-shirts that some of our directors and rangers were wearing which had on the name and logo of SATIIM.

Personnel in SATIIM vessel asked what should be done and the officer said that we (SATIIM) should go with them to their base located on the south side of the river which is the Guatemalan side (Guatemalan territory) to inform them where we are going. We told them no because we do not have any documents which would make our entry illegal. We told them that we do not need to go there as we had no intention of going into Guatemala and that we were inside Belizean waters.

The officer who we assumed was in charge responded by saying that the land is for Belize and the river is for them (Guatemala). The captain of the Guatemalan Navy vessel said that if we (SATIIM vessel) did not stop, they would have shot at us (SATIIM vessel).

This discussion lasted for about twenty to thirty minutes. Eventually we insisted that we needed go. The officer in charge says that the next time we come to the area that we should go to their base to inform them. We told them yes we will do that. They then told us that we could go. We then proceed with our journey to GrahamCreek village.

Guatemalan Navy Aggression

The Sartoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) held its 3rd General Gathering today June 29, 2007 at the Novitiate Nazareth Retreat Center. The theme for this years Gathering was: “Managing and Defending our Living Heritage for Future Generations.” The event commenced at 8 am until 5:30 pm and had the participation of over 50 delegates from the buffer communities of the Sarstoon Temash National Park: Crique Sarco, Conejo Creek, Midway, Sunday wood and Barranco.

The Gathering was called to order by the chairman of the board of SATIIM Mr. Alvin Loredo, followed by an opening prayer and presentation of SATIIM’s staff. The Guest Speaker for the Gathering was Dr. Filiberto Penados. Dr. Penados is a native of Succotz, the former director of Tumul Kin Learning Center in Blue Creek Village, Toledo and current lecturer at Galen University, Cayo.

Presentations made at the Gathering included: Two year summary of Accomplishments (by Executive Director – Greg Choc), Two Year Financial Report (by Finance Officer – David Duncan Jr.) and The Challenges Ahead (by Chairman – Alvin Loredo). The community leaders from all the buffer communities spoke on behalf of their communities and highlighted their concerns.

The community members voiced their opinions on priorities on where they think SATIIM’s work should focus for the next two years and election of new board members took place. Community board representatives elected for year 2007-2009 are:

  • Samuel Choc (Representative) – Crique Sarco
  • Manuel Acte (Representative) – Sunday Wood
  • Manuel Caal (Representative) – Conejo
  • Arnoldo Paau (Representative) – Midway
  • Alvin Loredo (Representative) – Barranco

Other Board members include representatives from the Forestry Department, Qeqchi Council of Belize, National Garifuna Council and the Toledo Alcaldes Association. The event closed with a ceremony to honor outgoing board members.