Wil Maheia says rosewood amnesty is invitation to criminals
But while government is ominously silent on the rosewood issue, public outrage has been fast and furious and very loud. This morning on the airwaves, Belizeans called the decision to return the illegally harvested rosewood shameful and disgraceful. Today, News Five spoke to Toledo activist Wil Maheia, who has been involved in the fight to stop illegal logging of rosewood in Toledo. He told us that the so-called amnesty is an invitation to criminals, and is blatant and outrageous corruption.
“When I first saw that, I was so shocked because after all that the minister had done—going on record and saying that there is a moratorium and this and that they would put a stop to this—I was just in awe of what was taking place. I am glad that Belizean people are waking up when they see things like this. This is what we need to do, we need to bring it to light so that the government could get the sense that Belizeans can’t be taken lightly anymore. I was just shocked that something like this would happen in the nation’s capital, less than a half mile from where the house meets. So I was shocked at that and I hope that…what was even more embarrassing to me is that it was done when the minister was out of the country. I think that is an insult to the minister for these under doings to take place when she is out of the country. I expect that when she gets back, she would at least inform the Belizean public exactly what took place.”
“But speculation is you know what, all these people who illegal logged this rosewood will be able to just come in take their rosewood and sell it. Is that your take on this thing?”
“Exactly; that’s my take on it. And what is that saying for criminals in this country? It is okay to commit a crime because the government will somehow come in and bail you out. You can get away with committing crime in this country; in fact, the only way to do business in this country is to commit a crime it seems like. From what I understand, it is the same people that is responsible for the illegal harvesting for this rosewood are now the same people taking it out from the forestry compound in Belmopan. So what is it saying? It is saying that you are basically endorsing the act of criminals. I know that the people of the Toledo district are disappointed because the ones who came and gave us information so that we could go out and stop the illegal, unsustainable harvesting of this rosewood. So now when they find out that the same people involved in the criminal activity of illegal harvesting are the ones who are reaping the benefits, how does that make them feel as Belizeans? I think that the communities of the Toledo district are owed an apology.”