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Nov 17, 2015

FCD Still Faces Serious Issues in the Chiquibul

A symposium held by Friends of Conservation and Development two years ago exposed the state of affairs in the Chiquibul Forest.  Since then, the dynamics of illegal activities in the area have changed, primarily following the murder of Tourism Police Constable Danny Conorquie, who was killed while on duty, allegedly at the hands of Guatemalan bandits. But while illegal logging has nosedived, the Executive Director of FCD, Rafael Manzanero, says that there are still incursions by Guatemalan xateros, gold panners and farmers making milpas well within Belizean territory.

 

Rafael Manzanero

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“Whenever we start to look at xaté. Xaté has been one that we don’t have it as before. So xaté; the extraction of it has continued. If you heard the news just a couple of days ago, one of the guys were found and then we had also been able to monitor in other areas where they would have seem to be some activity of that. But it is not like before. So we have them much more like spread out and now they are found more in very small groups. I think whenever we start to talk now about the primary or the main threats in the Chiquibul, there are two that really comes to mind and based upon our studies. What we see the first one is the milpa and agricultural incursions and then the goal panning. The gold panning has been one that we have not been able to control because of the remoteness; because it requires a whole different set of interventions. And we have not….to bring it much more clearly what really is happening with the gold panning. So if you notice, a couple of days ago, we actually showed on the newspaper about the gold panners. They have become even much more kind of self-contained in the jungle. So they carry their tools and in the jungle as they are extracting the gold, they are able to weigh it. And so they know how much is actually found in the forest as they are actually panning. So they have their scales and they have their weights. We just started a program during the month of August which addresses the milpa incursions and this is coming from the US Fishermen of Service. The FAO has been able to support us with the illegal logging. It took about five years in terms of funding with the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, to address the illegal logging. And then ultimately we realized that we need to topple this problem to give it as a twin project between Belize and Guatemala.”

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