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Jul 12, 2004

Cayo tour guides oppose Caracol plan

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Cabinet says no decision was ever taken on the project and the minister of culture says he’s against it…but those disclaimers have still not allayed fears that government may permit some form of privatization of the ancient Maya Site of Caracol. With the Belize Tourism Industry Association and Belize Ecotourism Association already on record with serious concerns, today News 5 spoke to the president of the Cayo Tour Guide Association who told us that Caracol–not to mention the rest of the nation’s Maya heritage–is too important to be handed over to any private interest.

Joe Awe, President, Cayo Tour Guides Association

?We need Belize to know that we are concerned about it and that we don?t agree with it regardless who it was, who made the business deal. It is too important a site and it is too important a part of our cultural or national heritage for it to be privatized. The truth is that it has to be developed as government has to do it because there are too many people that have given their time–blood, sweat, and tears really to get it at this level it is in right now.?

?To us, as tour guides especially in the western part of the country, Caracol is the challenger to Tikal and the same nature base opportunities are there and in fact maybe a little more pristine than Tikal because the type of traffic in Tikal today is totally different than what is at Caracol today. The history is there, it?s written in stone; it?s there in the jungle; it?s there, everywhere; kings are buried there and you don?t give away anything like that to anybody at all, but it?s for the people of Belize.?

A proposal has been made to cabinet by businessman Eugene Zabaneh to lease twenty-five square miles of the Caracol Archaeological Reserve for ninety-nine years, during which time his investment group will develop the site for tourism. Government has already spent millions of dollars doing reconstruction work on the site as well as making major improvements to the access road.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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