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Sep 19, 2013

Panelists question the severity of measures taken against illegal harvesting in Chiquibul

Valerie Woods

Incursions into the Chiquibul Forest, for the most part, remain unchecked despite routine patrols of its vast expanse by local armed forces.  Guatemalans caught poaching and mining gold and other minerals inside the national park are often detained, charged and subsequently expelled from the country.  Like Shoman, panelist Valerie Woods also questions the severity of the measures taken against the illegal harvesting of resources within the Chiquibul.  The fines, she says, are too nominal.

 

Valerie Woods, Panelist, Belize/Guatemala Forum

“I am concerned that whether you go to ICJ or not, whether there is a border or not, whether it is referred to artificially or not, whether it is cleared out or not, fifteen kilometers east is where the incursions are.  Not one kilometer or one mile east, and whether or not that ICJ matter is ever settled there are things that we could do right now that we should do right now that will only further enhance whenever we get to that point of an ICJ.  For example, in the Chiquibul Forest alone you are dealing with geology authority, immigration authority, customs authority, the NICH authority, the Department of the Environment, the Department of Forest, in some respect also dealing with the Ministry of Communications.  There are so many different governmental departments that you are dealing with, let’s not forget police or BDF and Ministry of Foreign Affairs but we still do not recognize despite all those people and departments who are supposed to be working together we are missing the most obvious point, which is, in my view, although I’m not a lawyer so I will not get into and I can’t get into details with ICJ, I don’t understand how we, for so long, for a matter that is so important, we have not put a higher price on what it costs to be caught.”

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