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Jun 18, 2018

Illegal Activities Continue within Columbia Forest Reserve

Wil Maheia

Since sounding an alarm several weeks ago that Guatemalan farmers have been encroaching on land surrounding Otoxha Village in the Toledo District, the Belize Defense Force has been deployed to the area.  But tonight, there is information that illegal activities continue to take place within the Columbia Forest Reserve at the hands of Guatemalan poachers.  Those incursions, according to the Belize Progressive Party’s Wil Maheia, have extended to areas including Dolores, San Benito Poite and San Vicente.  There is a renewed call on government to safeguard the natural resources found within this protected area.

 

Wil Maheia, Deputy Political Leader, B.P.P.

“Recently, we have heard the cries of our poor Mayan brothers and sisters about the need to have B.D.F. in their villages.  The job of the Government of Belize is to take care of its citizens and as we speak, Guatemalans are encroaching not only in the village of Otoxha, but also in the village of Dolores, Poite, San Vicente and these villagers are crying out for help.  So what I would say today is to call upon the Government of Belize to really give urgent attention to the villages down south.  These villages are being encroached upon, as we speak they are clearing lands and this is no ordinary Maya man from across the border.  These are big, rich guys from Guatemala City moving into our territory.  What they do is they hire the Maya guys to try and clear the land, once the land is civilized then the big ranchers from Guatemala move in and occupy the land which is inside Belize’s territory.  It has been several years now since the prime minister in one of his Independence Day speech promised to establish up to twelve outposts along the borderline.  So far none has been established in the Columbia Forest Reserve which is in urgent need… Every so often they try to shut the crowd up and say, oh well there’s been money allocated for the Columbia.  There has been no management presence in the Columbia Forest Reserve which is really and truly a very important piece of our territory.  All the territory of Belize is very important, but especially this area where Guatemalans continue to encroach into the Columbia [Forest Reserve] and extract our natural resources…”

 

Last week, Friends for Conservation and Development detained two of five Guatemalan poachers in the Chiquibul. The South Cebada Conservation Post was installed last Thursday to monitor the illegal activities.

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