Hamline Events

Hamline Law CLE - Cristina Coc on Mayan Indigenous Rights in Belize

Date: October 30, 2012
Time: 11:20 a.m.–12:20 p.m.
Cost: Free
Contact: Jane Prince, jprince01@hamlineedu, or Deb Lange, dlange@hamlineedu
Location: Room 105
Sponsor: Public Interest Law Community, BRIDGES
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Well-known land rights and indigenous rights advocate Cristina Coc will speak on her work advocating for the Maya people in Belize, Central America. Coc has been the spokesperson for the Maya Leaders Alliance in Belize and is a co-founder of the Julian Cho Society, which advocates for Maya land rights. Coc was instrumental in land rights case pursued by the Maya people and argued before the Supreme Court of Belize several years ago. This summer, Coc was in Geneva to speak to the United Nations in regard to charges of human rights violations against the government of Belize.

The program is brought to the Twin Cities by BRIDGES, a newly formed nonprofit organization focused on a culture and education exchange with indigenous Mayan villages in Belize, Central America.


Cristina Coc is the director and co-founder of the Julian Cho Society. She has been an activist for Maya Land Rights and forest conservation since 2003. She has worked directly over the last four years with the Maya villages of Toledo in southern Belize to mobilize for the campaign to secure indigenous land rights. As a Q'eqchi Maya woman, she has an intimate knowledge of the issues related to land use and social struggles of the Maya. Over the years she has built tremendous credibility through her community organizing, advocacy and leadership of the Land Rights Lawsuit before the Supreme Court of Belize for Conejo and Santa Cruz villages. She was elected by the traditional leaders, the Alcaldes of Toledo, to be part of the implementation team in this effort, with a mandate to represent the Maya through on-going negotiations with the Government of Belize. She is also presently co-spokesperson for the Maya Leaders Alliance.

The Julian Cho Society

The Julian Cho Society is a non-governmental organization devoted to indigenous rights through research, education, and advocacy in southern Belize. It was founded in 2004 having emerged out of the movement for indigenous land rights. JCS is legally incorporated in Belize as an NGO and is governed by a seven-member Advisory Council. The Society is dedicated to increasing understanding of the history and indigenous cultures of the Toledo District of Belize. We aim to carry forward the legacy of Julian Armando Cho through programs that promote education, justice, and sustainable development.

JCS has an outstanding track record in this work. We have been at the forefront of the struggle for indigenous rights in Belize since 2005. Our victories have included:

  • advocating and winning debt relief for two adjoining communities
  • playing a central role in a case brought before the Supreme Court of Belize that affirms indigenous rights to land and resources in Santa Cruz and Conejo
  • bringing national and international recognition to the cause as a result of diligent work with the media

Furthermore, in November 2007, JCS received the Violence Prevention Fund award for promotion of non-violent social change in Belize.

The event has been approved for one standard CLE credit. The presentation will be available via live webcast.

Please RSVP to Deb Lange via email or at 651-523-2122 and indicate attendance via webcast or in person.