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Oct 5, 1998

Toledo delegation protests logging

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It has been out of the public spotlight for quite some time but it doesn’t mean that the controversy over logging in Toledo has gone away. Over the weekend a group of leaders from several Toledo villages were in Belize City to update the media on the latest developments in the ongoing fight to protect the rainforest. This time around, objections are coming from leaders of fourteen communities that are part of a proposed eco-tourism park in Toledo. The leaders say they are not against logging in principle but the haphazard way in which Toledo’s forests are being harvested threatens to destroy the district’s fragile environment. In June of this year, the Toledo Alcalde Association and other village leaders agreed to support the proposed Eco-Park project which has as its main focus, sustainable tourism in the district. In recent weeks however, the Association claims that the Malaysian company, Atlantic Industries, has been bribing villagers to withdraw their support for the project.

Francisco Cal, Secretary, Toledo Alcalde’s Association

“The reason why the people started to work is because if we do not accept the job with the Malaysians, then they will bring in some other people from other villages to work in there. So that’s why the people started to work, because we the people need jobs and they need money for their living, so therefore they start work.

Reyes Chun, Chairman, Toledo Eco-Tourism Association

“Our main point for this trip here to Belize City is to come and capture support from the northern side of Belize. Mainly we wanted to try and to get this idea of the people’s Eco-park. We call it the people’s Eco-park because this is not just a Mayan thing, it includes all the indigenous peoples in Toledo, which comprise of the Garifuna, the Creole, the Mestizos and all the people that live there. So now the T.E.A. association is formed in 1990, it has eight years experience right now and we are promoting sustainable Eco-tourism in the villages. Right now they have ten villages that are operational and are inviting guests, tourists to go in there and experience our culture and the way how we live and our Maya people on a whole.”

William Schmidt, Toledo Eco-Park Association

“Right now the foreign loggers have gone into the villages and they have told people that no one is going to help them and the government is behind them and if they don’t go up and cut the last of their trees, they will get someone else to cut them. They are giving the men thirty five dollars a day, they are offering the alcaldes fifty dollars a day, they are promising about a month and a half or two months worth of work. You can imagine what that kind of money means to these men and especially the alcalde, that’s three hundred dollars a week.”

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Marian McNab and Acting Director of the Tourist Board Valerie Woods are scheduled to meet with Minister Mark Espat later this week to apprise him of the concerns raised by the Toledo delegation.


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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