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Sep 6, 2013

Another Guatemalan caught inside Chiquibul

Rafael Manzanero

The Chiquibul National Park continues to be a major draw for Guatemalans who want to farm, or pan for gold or cut xate or cut timber or exploit any of our resources that they wish. Between these looters and their bounty stand a few brave rangers of the Friends for Conservation and Development, joined on patrols by the B.D.F. and Police Department. It is a daunting task, since the park is roughly the size of the Corozal district, and most of it is extremely rugged terrain. Still, the work continues. On September third a joint operation resulted in the detention of one Guatemalan in the Ceibo Chico area of the park. Rafael Manzanero is the Executive Director of the FCD. He explained to News Five why, despite the many challenges, the work must go on.

 

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“As a result of that operation, two Guatemalans were detected. Also one of the persons were able to escape; he was the younger brother of the one caught. The person caught goes by the name of Luis Bah. Luis was caught and detained and brought out to the San Ignacio Police Station. The person caught, Mister Bah, had on his possession what appears to be gold. It is approximately about one gram, according to what we was saying is what he collected over the past three days that he had been operating in the area. Certainly it is a tough situation, certainly it is a complicated one—it has its diversity of challenges. But what is certain to us is that we must continue this effort in a multifaceted fashion. And I think one of the things that we have observed in the case of the gold panners is that we need to go back again and look at what it will take to deter them. We know that these people are now operating more on the higher grounds of the Ceibo Chico watershed which means that they are more going to the other remote areas in the high mountains which is the major waters of the Chiquibul River. But one of the points in terms of your question is that it provokes the inquiry of how much would a person be charged and if you might recall over a couple of weeks ago, six of them were detained and each one of them was only charged two hundred dollars. So coming back again to your question, certainly, we would hope that it would be much more better; we would hope that we could be much more effective in terms of deterring the people, but there is a lot of work yet that would be required to be done.”

 

According to Manzanero, six Guatemalans who were found illegally panning for gold in the Chiquibul recently were fined two hundred dollars each and released.

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