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Jan 18, 2013

Rosewood, a hot commodity; P.M. weighs in on burning of illegally harvested wood

There is no new discovery of a container or stash of rosewood to report tonight, though it seems that attempts to smuggle illegal rosewood and export it to China these days has become as common as shootings in Belize City. In the past week there have been four busts including one in Golden Stream which was set ablaze by Minister Lisel Alamilla. Over seven hundred flitches were confiscated; the value is put at over four hundred thousand dollars. Both Minister Wilfred Elrington and Minister Patrick Faber have weighed in on the burning. Today we got word straight from the top. Prime Minister Dean Barrow told News Five that the matter has been discussed at some length and the nation can rest assured that there will be no repetition of that event.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“We’ve discussed, the minister and I, and then at the larger cabinet level and the minister is apologetic because I don’t want to blame anyone, but the minister wasn’t properly advised. Once the rosewood was confiscated or detained, it became the property of the Government of Belize and you are perfectly correct. There are protocols, there are rules, there are regulations as to how you dispose what is government property. I sympathize with her judgment; it si not a decision that I would have made, but I ask that people understand that she thought look, if we try to sell the rosewood, the only people who have the export connections are the very people that we think are involved in the illegal trade. If we try to store it in some location while we figure out how to deal with it, the mites might get to it. So it was in those circumstances that she obviously thought she should do what she did. There is no doubt that it was always happening and remember there were people in Toledo who were whistle blowers and people like Wil Maheia and others who were for a while signaling look this thing is happening and the authorities need to get a hand on it. So since the moratorium, of course, there is I believe a lessening of this illegal harvesting of the rosewood, but clearly there is no cessation. I myself didn’t quite understand how valuable this thing is on the export market—dah serious, serious money. And you know human beings will find a way to try and beat the system when the stakes are so high. So it’s always been happening. It continues to happen and it is clear that you have to give the minister her props for being somebody who is determined to try to stomp out this illegal trade and insist on the conservation on what is a finite and such a precious resource.”

 

While the ministry of Forestry is investigating the rosewood busts, the good news is that no matter what happens to the rosewood, it won’t be destroyed by fire.

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3 Responses for “Rosewood, a hot commodity; P.M. weighs in on burning of illegally harvested wood”

  1. Bear says:

    i like the new nickname the PM coined for Gapi Vega — the Mite!

  2. Rod says:

    This man is truly as stupid as he looks damm no wonder this country is sinking.

  3. Deep says:

    I must say I agree and support the action of the minister in principle. Many of you, especially those more incline to comment on issue through this medium live and work in the comforts of urban area and an office (no offense) that unfortunately limits your appreciation of the problem faced day in-day out in doing this kind of work. The people engaged in these illegal activities are very determine and well resourced far beyond the scope of that provided to the regulatory agencies. For every strategy developed they seem to have endless access to funding for a counter strategy. The legal movement of confiscated material such as those burnt is just the type of activity they depend on disguise their illegal activity.
    I can recall working on the control of contraband vegetable and other crops, we adopted a program which donated confiscated crop to institutions such as the elderly and children’s homes, hospital , prison, etc rather than being dumped or burnt. Within one week of the start of that program these people were able to convince employees of these establishments to steal and resell the crops to them which are then sold on the local market just as they had originally planned. This time however completed with transportation provided by the government as the produce was bought down for the confiscate point to the central offices for processing and distribution. When this problem was arrested and discontinued, they resorted to mixing the contraband produce with locally produced vegetable to disguise it just as would have happened with this rosewood.

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