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Apr 15, 2013

Rosewood sold to brother of Minister Gaspar Vega

Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla took the hot seat this morning to explain the recent rosewood scandal. It includes a decision by Cabinet to declare an amnesty for those in possession of the precious hardwood, and to approve the sale and export of rosewood with government splitting the profits from sales. We’ll have that explanation in a few, but first the shocking news which probably came as no surprise to anyone in the political peanut gallery…Remember that confiscated rosewood which was caught on video last week as it was moved from lockdown at the Forestry Compound in Belmopan? Well the company doing the moving was no other than GIV Enterprises. GIV is the acronym for German Ignacio Vega, who is the brother of the very powerful U.D.P. Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Forestry Gaspar Vega. Today, Alamilla spoke about GIV and the government owned rosewood, more than twenty-five thousand board feet. Freelance reporter Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The rosewood caught on video last week as it was loaded onto trucks, and a lot more illegally harvested rosewood which has been confiscated by the Forestry Department, now belongs to GIV, or German Ignacio Vega Enterprises. But don’t despair or panic just yet…according to Minister Alamilla, all revenues derived from the sale and export of that confiscated rosewood will go into public coffers.

 

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry

“Those belong to the government of Belize, they are the property of the government of Belize and they are being sold for exportation.”

 

Reporter

“And who will get the revenue and how much of it?”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“The government will get all the revenues from the sale of that rosewood, the twenty-five thousand board foot. That is the property of Belize, that has already been put into the system of government property…that and other material that we have at the Machaca Forest Station and at Savannah. All that material is logged and accounted for in Forest Department and we are selling that material for them to export.”

 

Reporter

“Selling to whom?”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“We’re selling that right now to GIV.”

 

So how did the company owned by the brother of the Deputy Prime Minister come onto the scene? Well Alamilla explained that, and also changed her story of government getting all the revenues from the sale of that confiscated rosewood.

 

Lisel Alamilla

“We thought about it and discussed it and what we learned about it is that the trade of rosewood is very tricky with China in that you send the material and then you don’t get paid. Sometimes people have to be hassled and its risky, because once the material is gone you don’t get paid, they don’t pay you before, they pay you upon receipt of the material. And so it was the decision of Cabinet that we were not willing to take the risk, and so the revenue sharing that we were doing which is fifty-fifty, the exporters will have to pay government before they are allowed to export, the fifty percent…in addition to what we are going to get from the twenty-five thousand board foot and probably even more when we have added everything else that we have in Machaca, so twenty-five thousand board foot, say at five dollars per board foot, that clearly government’s property. Then we are going to do a revenue sharing agreement where fifty percent of the revenues will come to Belize, to the government of Belize, and fifty percent to the exporter.”

 

And how much exactly does fifty percent of the profit work out to? According to Alamilla, at this point the Ministry has absolutely no clue.

 

Lisel Alamilla

“The fifty percent will be gotten once it’s sold on the international market. I can’t declare to you what that percentage will be per board foot because we’re getting different information about what it’s worth on the global market, so we’re really trying to figure out what is the real cost once this material is landed in China or Taiwan where it’s most likely to be shipped. That is why we’re doing the research to find out what it costs, because we’re not going to be taking the exporters word that this is what they’ll be making…because like I said up to now we have not been able to really ascertain what it is they are getting. They are telling us that they’re not making a whole lot of money, etc, but the truth is I don’t believe them and so we have our sources and we’re sending out to find out what they would earn once the material is landed in China.”

 

And anyone could be forgiven for looking twice, or even three times at GIV, since this is certainly not the first time the name of the Deputy Prime Minister or his close affiliates, in this case brother, has come up in the movement of illegal rosewood.

 

Lisel Alamilla

“If you really follow the rosewood trail you will find out that this is not about P.U.P., that it is not only U.D.P.s who are involved in this…that really GIV is the exporter of the product. The people who they are buying it from, and if I list the names, they are all PUPs. So who is benefitting are both P.U.P.s, U.D.P.s and no Ps…just Joe Public. It is a fact that GIV is one of the largest exporters of rosewood but anyone who gets material and wants to export it and has the connection and has the finances to pay government beforehand, before they export it, they will be allowed to export the material. So it is not only limited to GIV. Other people who have been exporting and who can source the material on the ground, they can come in, declare their product and we will give them permission to export it.”

 

Reporter

“But how can we in the media be sure that the decision…there’s every appearance that the decision was made to facilitate and enrich this U.D.P. insider, Mr. German Vega.”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“Well that is the perception that people have and I don’t think I can do anything to erase that perception.”

 

Mike Rudon for News Five.

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32 Responses for “Rosewood sold to brother of Minister Gaspar Vega”

  1. Paco Smith says:

    Unfortunately, this does not come as a surprise. All the same, it is disturbing.

    This is yet another classic case of the institutionalised nepotism and cronyism that is characteristic of the PUDP and is fast becoming par for the course, in terms of the manner in which we are governed.

    In order to remain true, I must say that Minister Alamilla, by way of her press conference, has demonstrated that she is a team player. Unfortunately, for everyone except those who are well-connected, that is not a good thing.

    This is a damn shame!

  2. Rod says:

    All involved in this situation should be locked up today not tomorrow not next week but locked up today for thief and if this pm and gov. Doesn’t lock up all involved then from the pm down everyone needs to be arrested and put in jail along with all the common thieves of this country. We the people need to arrest this pm and all his ministers and put all of hem in jail what thieves damn traitors to their country.

  3. BMNJ says:

    In world trade, there’s something called ‘Letter of Credit’ whereby the buyer has the bank holds on to the funds and once the goods reach its destination, the funds will then be released to the seller. What is so tricky about selling to China? By the way, who is purchasing the rosewood? A company in China or is it the Chinese government? Is importation of rosewood legal in China? There’s always a protocol to follow regarding imports and exports in view of economics. I think there is still something fishy about this matter. What GOB should have done is this: the penalty for the illegal loggers – have them export the rosewood at their expense and all revenue goes to GOB and NO 50/50 split of the profits. Otherwise, a fine that equals to three times the value of the rosewoods in the world market or jail time.

  4. Bzean4Life says:

    So if I understand this right then all the rosewood is going to be exported through GIV with no bidding process? No other company in Belize was even given the opportunity to move or sell the rosewood? The owner of GIV is the brother of the Deputy Prime Minister according to the article. Am I the only one incredulous that this is happening right before the eyes of the belizean public. Why wasn’t this open to other exporters? I dont think I have to answer that question. It is quite clear. Our natural resources were illegally harvested and the people who harvested it illegally stand to gain. Why didn’t I know about this? I could have gone out harvested the rosewood ilegally and waited for my pay day. Instead of the crooks have an open bidding process and give the money to lawbiding belizean people.

  5. Bzean4life says:

    No bidding process and it goes to the brother of the Deputy Prime Minister. The Bealizean people need to wake up. Equal opportunity for all. There should have been a bidding process of the exportation of the rosewood. Further the criminals get 50% of the sale. Why didn’t they tell us then we could have all harvested rosewood illegally and gotten 50% of thousands if not millions of dollars. I have lost all respect for a minister I thought would make a difference.

  6. eric says:

    This is amazing that for all the same reasons the PUP was voted out in 2008. Now I in no way favor either of these crime syndicates but it amaze me to see how laid back the Belizean people has gotten since then. We are actually just sitting back and allowing the theft and rape of OUR (all of us Belizeans) to happen. What happened to the people that got out in the streets and protested? Are you all just scared little chickens hoping that you won’t be slaughtered for Sunday dinner? Don’t give me that generic comment of “why don’t you do something?” I believe one person can effect change, but when you are trying to change people that have no faith in them, fear in their hearts and no care in their minds. We are sitting back and watching the slaughter of our country by these low life vega’s and we simply don’t care. Someone get lisel alamilla some toilet paper she has bs all over her lying mouth, you are a disgrace to Belizeans and to your country you puppet on a string.

  7. javier says:

    These Vegas are not good people. They have a history and i thought they had changed but they cannot cahnge their spots. Corruption is their game.

  8. orangewalkenio says:

    Such a shame…I had high hopes for Ms. Alamilla, but i have realized she has drank the Kool-aid….such a shame….she can no longer call her self an environmentalist or a conservationist….its amazing how corruption can permeate through every fabric of the Belizean life….i agree with BMNJ….we must have qualified people in our country who could have sold this and get 100% for the Belizean people….also we could have gotten much more by heavily penalizing the culprits…..but then again…..Minister Alamilla….you just lost all credibility…….jus another corrupt government official….

  9. Juan Gongora says:

    Damn shame!! I believe with all due respect that the minister Alamilla has lost her ministerial virginity, she has sold out on us.

  10. Al says:

    Crime is only profitable for the politicians in Belize, the poor man pays the price for his crime in jail. How much more corrupt can this country’s leaders get. The PM puts his stamp of approval on every crooked deal. The sad thing is that I see no honest people in the wings to step up and change things, so it will be the same robbery of the country that will continue.

  11. Juan Gongora says:

    The Minister has lost her Ministerial virginity, she sold out on us. She should have resigned. I hope that she can live withn her cronies laughter.. at her.

  12. aldo says:

    You all make me wanna cry and say how patroitic and concerned your comments are but the reality is you all are a bunch of blinded hypocrits. Doesn’t anyone see the real problem ? It is business as usual in Belize . Always has been and always will be. PUP AND UDP and we are all to blame cause we voted them in. Now you can blame gaspar inc but why do we not include the PUPS that had been doing it before and gotten away with it ? Change can come but not by crticizing words but by actions and that not one single belizean has yet done. No cojones. That is why I cannot criticize just watch and take my licking.

  13. robert says:

    I AM LOST OF WORDS NEVER BELIEVE THAT THE UDP WOULD DO SOMETHING FOOLISH LIKE THIS. I BELIEVE THEY SAY THAT ONLY PUP WOULD BEHAVE IN THESE MANNER. WOW!!! WOW!!! UDP I VOTED FOR U BUT I AM ONLY 21 AND I JUST CANT SUPPORT U AGAIN!!!!

  14. Tuco says:

    You can see Minister Alamilla lying trough her teeth last night trying to defend her corrupt government. She has definitely lost all her credibility she once portrayed before joining these corrupt thieves. Gapi Vega still control her ministry, she should do the right thing and resign.

  15. marie says:

    So sad, always gov’t official & family involved in the most profitable schemes. Try sell everything before Guatemala take over

  16. REALITY CHECK says:

    Gaspar get the last laugh, has any investigation come up with how reaally Ms Alamilla got to be a minister. come on journalists.

  17. m.price says:

    they might as well give back the drugs & ask for 50%, since it would be too risky for the Gov’t to sell them theirself. Hey, why not

  18. Princess Meadows says:

    Yeah! How did she get that post, the public needs to know.

  19. ceo says:

    It should not matter if Vega got the wood; good thing is the crooks didn’t get it. Then again maybe the crooks did get it.

    How much is he paying for it and how much the GOB will get? These are key questions and for her to say ‘I have no clue’ in a news conference to explain to the public what is being done with their natural resources I find her answer very troubling.

    There are only three possibilities: 1) she is not inept, 2) she is part and parcel of the scam, or 3) she thinks we are dumb. The people of Belize are not dumb so…! Then again she perhaps really do not know the value because recently she used some for kindling.

    If she is the minister of forestry that is making a public appearance to try and explain a sticky situation like this to the people she should have at least did some research to find out what is the going rate for Rosewood. She should have given the public a better answer than ” I Have No Clue”! Really sweetheart you really have no clue? Then if you are the top dog who is selling a rew material and you have no clue what it is worth: this is a problem!

  20. ceo says:

    Correction: 1) SHE IS INEPT

  21. Bear says:

    Enough talk, it’s time for action.

    It’s time for students to protest, churches to protest, unions, and all civic organizations to strike and shut down the country until the viper’s nest in Belmopan and Orange Walk is gone, one way or the other.

    Credible civic leaders should also meet privately with the Governor General and ask him to do what was done in Caymans, throw out a corrupt administration, lock them up.

    We have no diplomatic relations with Communist China. Rosewood exports have been illegal for some time. Exactly how did the DPM’s brother get so much experience in an illegal business? Anyway, the entire affair is criminal, and everyone connected with it needs to be locked up. They can try governing from cells in Kolbe.

  22. MacGuffin says:

    Lock up Gapi and Papi together!

  23. Jose Acosta says:

    From since when in business you get 50% of the profit sharing for just exporting..a 10 to 12 % or sometime lower is the norm I am told but 50%..it stink dah road. More over, you caught this same exporting company red handed committing an offense and you still reward them? It also time to stop blaming the PUP….supposedly the UDP came into power to stop corruption but I guess they are about to perfect it (not yet perfect as the people have caught them red handed)…call election now….

  24. John says:

    People of Belize open your eyes. How in the word we could sell something and we are not sure what we are going to get for it? As the minister in charge if you are selling our resources and don’t know how much we are getting, you need to be removed. It’s just like the land business. I still don’t know how that computer at lands could have crashed and there is no back up files? This is the problem, we have people that are really not responsible and cannot run their ministry but can run corruption well to benefit their family.

  25. James says:

    Come on Belizeans! You are being unfair…who else did you expect to get the rosewood? It has to be a family who is not normal… come one…you the normal people cannot expect to get this type of deals do you?

  26. javier says:

    Every time(which is a lot) i hear about corruption in the government, my mind keep replaying the words of the PM when the opposition mention corruption in the government. He lambase them about those on his side are not corrupted like them. while i still consider the Musa Administration as the worst in Belize History. It seem like the PM is now looking like a Jack Ass. But then again if he has no apology for enriching his X and family then i should not be surprised by his ministers. I have lost my respect and admiration for the PM. He had a great opportunity to lead this country and HIS people to A better future. Instead he chose the Musa way.
    We need true leaders not new leaders. We need to ask our selves if we are the ordinary Belizean that Gaspa describe, if we are then we should all shut the hell up and let them have their greedy way.

  27. Juniore Guerra says:

    Come Election Day, the UDP will pay Belizeans $50 each to vote for them. That $50 will make all this outrage go away. Shame on the UDP government and Belizeans that sell out for $50

  28. STANDFORBELIZE says:

    Gaspar VEGA IS A THIEFFF! EVERYBODY KNOWS IT! SO IS JOHN SALDIVAR! SO IS ELVIN PENNER HUSTLING FROM IMMIGRATION! SO IS CLEAR THE LAND CASTRO WHO WENT FROM ONE HOUSE TO MANY HOUSES! OUR CONTRY IS RUN BY A BUNCH OF THIEFS! MITE AS WELL THEY TAKE THE PRISONERS FROM KOLBE, GIVE THEM A SUIT AND TIE AND MAKE THEM MINISTERS..

  29. mil says:

    Crazy.

    I have seen forestry take down the wall of people’s home in the village because they dont have permit to saw the lumber.

  30. mil says:

    Crazy.

    I have seen forestry take down the wall of people’s home in the village because they dont have permit to saw the lumber.

  31. Eye in the Sky says:

    WOW !!!!!!!
    In the real world this government would have to step down.
    But in Belize the people are too stupid and ignorant to notice what is happening.
    Hey lets go drink a beer and eat a fry chicken mentality.

  32. alejandro hernandez says:

    I expected more form ms.lisel alamilla,she was put their by dean barrow to have transparency and accountability after gaspar vega was very corrupt as he was also incharge for that ministry,ministry of forestry! but looks like she was USED AS A SCAPEGOAT,OR IS BEING MANIPULATED BY THE PUPPER MASTER “DEAN OLIVER BORROW”, she is being used,and she is a shame that she accepts herself to be draged to the floor and used to being swep like dirt. she shoild have resigned if she had some decency.But she accepted corruption and SHE IS ALSO GUILTY OF IT,:

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