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Aug 30, 2021

How Strong Can Penalties Be?

Osmany Salas

Late last week, the Government of Belize issued a joint statement from the Ministries of Sustainable Development and Natural Resources, saying that they are working with BML to ensure that it is compliant. But F.C.D. is saying that the infractions are severe and putting the headwaters at direct risk. Fines levied are usually minimal, so what kind of penalties can be imposed for environmental damage?


Osmany Salas, Senator for N.G.O.s

“The mining operations, we understand, are taking place in the southernmost part of the Chiquibul National Park. F.C.D. is the manager of that national park, F.C.D. then should be very much aware of activities that are taking place within and around the national park as part of their management responsibility. Now, we know that our management agencies are constrained when it comes to resources, but therein is what I think is one of the big challenges that we face. For a mining company such as this one to operate in a very remote environment in which there is little to no routine monitoring of operations from the respective authorities – for example the Department of Mining and the other relevant government departments and there is therefore a heavy reliance on self-policing by such companies which suggests that we have to go to big extent with what the company is saying and it should not be that way. These companies should be regularly monitored by the respective authorities and I think even the co-management agents itself – in this case, F.C.D. – have a role to play. So when F.C.D. issued this report, we were alarmed, we were concerned. We must listen to what F.C.D. is saying because they are our eyes and ears out there. And I need to emphasize, if it was not for F.C.D., this N.G.O. that has been managing the Chiquibul National Park and has a presence in the overall Chiquibul Forest, the nation of Belize would not be aware of so many illicit activities that have been taking place in that part of our country.”

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