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The Maya of the Toledo District are diligent in their self determination. Maya who have chosen to dedicate themselves to increasing the quality of life of their people are critical to the sustainable development for their Indigenous group.

Each village has its own set of leaders. Village leaders contribute to the development of their particular area. Their efforts are to be lauded. However, there are also individuals who have dedicated themselves to address social, economic, and political issues that effect the Maya culture as a whole.

They work toward organizing, celebrating, and empowering the Maya people.

They seek equity as indigenous people and Belizean citizens.

Maya Leaders have dedicated themselves to creating a balance between development and preservation of their Q´eqchi´ and Mopan Maya culture and the land they and their ancestors consider sacred.
They are the hard working heroes no one hears about - but they should. Click here for more information about socioeconomic challenges the Maya address.

Maya Leader Organizations in the Toledo District

Toledo Maya Cultural Council

Toledo Maya Women's Council

Toledo Alcaldes Association

Q´eqchi´ Council of Belize

These organizations make up the Maya Leaders Alliance of Southern Belize

Below are links to articles, TV news stories and press releases that discuss the Maya's concerns and highlight their actions. Media pieces are sorted by subject.

Land and Socioeconomic Equity

Maya Leaders Celebrate - GOB Delivers
As cheers resounded on a crowded football field in San Antonio, Toledo District, Maya leaders signed a historic and unprecedented agreement with the Government of Belize.
Government of Belize October 25, 2000

Prime Minister Signs Agreement with Toledo Maya

News 5's Jose Sanchez was in Punta Gorda today where he spoke to the Prime Minister and Maya spokesman Greg Ch'oc. The occasion was the signing of a ten point agreement.
Channel 5 Online News
October 12, 2000

Toledo Maya Comment on Bilal Morris
I would like to respond on behalf of the Toledo Maya Cultural Council to the article that appeared in last week's Amandala entitled the "Present state of affairs of the Toledo Maya." The TMCC naturally welcomes recognition in the national press of the continued problems faced by us Maya in Toledo; problems faced by our late Chairman Julian Cho did much to draw attention to. The physical, economic and social isolation of the Maya villages in Toledo means that their predicament becomes all too easily forgotten by the rest of Belize.
Amandala Newspaper November 28, 1999

Mayan Clarification
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify the Toledo Maya Cultural Council's position on Maya land rights - a position which was woefully misrepresented during the 2nd public consultation on the proposed SRDC Bill in Punta Gorda on September 24th. The representative from the Toledo Ecotourism Association criticized the TMCC for advocating what he called a separate "Maya Homeland" for the Mopan and K'ekchi communities of Toledo.
Belize Times November 14, 1999

Toledo Maya Cultural Council (TMCC) Speaks Out
In Belize, there has long been something of a taboo against the rights of Indigenous people. The simple idea that Maya Indian should have rights to their ancestral lands is viewed with reservation, as well as an impossibility within the structure of our country which dictates the Utopian idea that all Belizeans are equal.
TMCC Press Release - Web 1998

Rigoberta Menchu Meets with Indigenous Groups
Representatives of various indigenous groups were today given the opportunity to break bread with visiting Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchu Tum.
Channel 5 Online News May 7, 1998


Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will Decide Indian Land Rights Case in Belize
WASHINGTON, DC - In a major battle to stop logging and oil development in southern Belize, Maya Indians have won a preliminary ruling in their human rights case against the government of Belize. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on October 20, 2000, issued a report announcing that it will consider the merits of the complaint that indigenous Maya communities filed alleging that the government has violated their human rights by failing to recognize their rights to their traditional lands and by granting logging and oil development concessions on those lands.
ILRC Press Release October 25, 2000

Maya Indians to Washington in Bid to Defend Their Rainforests
Maya Indians from Belize are to visit Washington next week in a bid to defend their rainforest homes from loggers, according to Indian rights lawyers here.
Worldwide Forest/Biodiversity Campaign News November 29, 1996

Minister of Natural Resources Comments on Logging
The committee, which includes also members from the Toledo Maya Cultural Council and members from N.G.O.s, they are the ones that are recommending that. Let's give them another opportunity, let's sit down with them and address the issues of concern especially for the indigenous people in the Toledo District.
Channel 5 Online News March 26, 1999

Maya File Petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Toledo Maya Cultural Council ("TMCC") filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States ("OAS") challenging the legality of logging and oil concessions granted by the Government of Belize in the Toledo District.
ILRC Press Release August 10, 1998

Maya Mapping Project
The creation of a Maya map was an idea brought up by the previous leaders of the Toledo Maya Cultural Council under the chairmanship of Mr. Estevan Assi. However, the idea of a Maya map did not come to fruition until a new TMCC Board of Directors was constitutionally elected on December 31, 1995. This new board was spearheaded by Mr. Julian Cho, who got to work revitalizing the Maya organization and implementing the historical work on the map to be produced by the Maya. The TMCC asked the Toledo Alcaldes Association (TAA) to help, and a partnership was born.
TMCC Press Release - Web 1996


Saving Traditional Music
Ten thousand dollars has been awarded to the Toledo Maya Cultural Council to support an initiative to revive traditional Maya music in the south.
Channel 5 Online News December 18, 2000

Hurricane Iris

Maya Leaders Seek Participation in Toledo Recovery
You have people who have been living a life of struggle, a life rather than living for comfort, living for survival. And when people who are living for survival are struck with a tragedy and devastated, the little that you have is taken away and you have no other alternative, then what you do. Quote: Valentino Shal, Toledo Maya Cultural Council
Channel 5 Online News October 25, 2001

The Maya Leaders' Hurricane Iris Disaster Relief Effort
Hurricane Iris violently struck southern Belize on Monday, October, 8, 2001, leaving an estimated 13,000 people homeless and desperately in need of help to recover.
ILRC Press Release October 22, 2001

Toledo Villages Bear Brunt of Iris
But as the story of Belize's worst natural disaster since 1961 unfolds, it is becoming apparent that the bulk of Iris' victims inhabit the inland villages of the Toledo District. These are people whose food is often home grown, are likely to sleep under a thatched roof and whose most popular fashion accessory is a machete, not a cell phone.
Channel 5 Online News October 16, 2001


Toledo Maya Site Gets Visitor Center
An archaeological site at Indian Creek in the Toledo District has a new visitor's center courtesy of the European Union and the Government of Belize. The ribbon at Nim Li Punit Center was cut yesterday by Minister of Tourism Mark Espat.
Channel 5 Online News October 12, 1999

Guatemala/Belize Boarder Dispute

Maya People of Southern Belize Millennium Declaration
The Maya Leaders of Southern Belize, on behalf of the Maya Mopan and Maya Q'eqchi' Peoples of Toledo, Belize
Belize Government Press Release
January 16, 2001

Belize's Maya Reject Guatemalan Claim
Maya leaders of Southern Belize today made it unambiguously clear that the Guatemalan government could expect no help from them in their campaign to snatch a piece of Belize.
Channel 5 Online News January 1, 2001

Julian Cho

In Memory of Julian Cho
In a few days time, the Mayas of Toledo will be remembering with a heavy heart the loss of our leader, Brother Julian Armando Cho. The 1st of December, 1998 is a scar that will remain in our hears and minds forever. All brother Julian wanted for his people was for them to be treated fairly, have their rights recognized and respected and be allowed the same opportunities as everyone else.
The Guardian November 1999

Biography of Julian Cho, TMCC Chairman 1995-1998 Deceased 12/1/98

Julian Armando Cho was born in the remote and humble village of San Jose in the Toledo District to Mr. and Mrs. Juan Cho. As the sixth child of the family, he was fortunate enough to attend high school and tertiary level institutions both at home and abroad. Exposure to the outside world created in Julian a strong humanitarian quality and a desire to help people, especially the disadvantaged.
TMCC Press Release - Web December, 1998

Government Promises to Push Cho Murder Investigation
On Monday the widow of Mayan Leader Julian Cho and a number of his close associates came to Belize City from the Toledo District to ask the government and the police to take another look at Cho's death.
Channel 5 Online News December 17, 1998

Julian Cho's Widow Wants Answers from Police
The family and friends of Maya leader Julian Cho whose body was found at his Punta Gorda home on December first say there are still many unanswered questions about his death.
Channel 5 Online News
December 14, 1998

Condolences Continue for Julian Cho
In other police news, the cause of death of well known Chairman of the Toledo Maya Cultural Council, Julian Cho has still not been determined.
Channel 5 Online News December 12, 1998

Condolences Offered to Julian Cho's Family
The Prime Minister Said Musa has extended his condolences to the family of Julian Cho, the Chairman of the Toledo Maya Cultural Council who died at his home in Punta Gorda.
Channel 5 Belize Online News December 2, 1998

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