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Jan 11, 2013

Minister feels heat and destroys Rosewood

On Wednesday night, a local alcalde busted a delivery truck in Deep River, Toledo which was being readied to transport over seven hundred pieces of rosewood destined for the lucrative export market. A moratorium on the extraction of the precious wood was put in place last year, but you wouldn’t know that because the illegal trade has continued to flourish under the noses of officialdom in the south. The moratorium was one of the first acts of the Minster of Forestry, Lisel Alamilla. Well today, the confiscated rosewood went up in smoke. Our cameras were rolling when the Minister set fire to the confiscated evidence which we are told will take at least three days to burn. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The incineration of over seven hundred logs by the Forestry Department this morning in Deep River is an outward expression of Minister Lisel Alamilla’s frustration with the continuous practice of illegal rosewood harvesting.  Since the authorization of an immediate suspension of activities pertaining to the felling of the precious lumber almost a year ago, the Ministry of Forests is still trying to get a handle on the situation.


Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry

“My ministry has had enough.  Enough is enough.  We have been battling this rosewood business for the last nine months since I assumed office and we have not been able to put a dent into the rosewood illegal logging.  And so, we want a clear message sent [to] everyone who is involved in this rosewood business that the moratorium stands.  We have never made any changes to the position and we have not allowed any exportation of rosewood since we cleared the amount that we had the last time when we had first set the moratorium in place.”


Over four hundred thousand dollars in lumber is going up in smoke today, illicit cargo that was destined for the foreign market.  The holder of the concession is Hilmar Alamilla, a repeat offender.


Wilbur Sabido

Wilbur Sabido, Chief Forest Officer

“If you recall several weeks ago we had caught the same individual, or agents of this individual, operating under the current license and we caught the individual transporting rosewood flitches as well.  We took them to court and the court basically decided in our favor.  What the Forestry Department then did was to suspend the license, now in this particular instance the suspension is still in effect, meaning that there is a further violation on the part of the licensee, Hilmar Alamilla, in terms of the license conditions, meaning that we can then proceed to cancel the license; however, there are other conditions that we feel he has violated especially in terms of transporting or collecting material, rosewood material which, as the minister mentioned, is illegal to collect in the first place.”


While the source of the felled planks remains to be determined, what was discovered on Wednesday night was essentially a collection point a few hundred feet off the Southern Highway in Deep River.


Alfonso Cal, President, Toledo Alcaldes Association

“They have been sending a lot of rosewood like this in the night and I don’t know.  This is what I told them, “Has the law changed?  Has the law given [you permission] now that you can go and do your work in the night?”


And indeed, most of the clandestine activity is done at night under the cover of darkness.  To make matters worse agents continue to visit these rural communities where they are convincing villagers that they have been given special concessions to log for rosewood.


Lisel Alamilla

“No one, absolutely no one has been given any permit to extract, to salvage, to export rosewood.”


Isani Cayetano

“Secondly, what measures or actions will be taken against Hilmar Alamilla?  I know [that] he is the person that this concession is granted to and he is doing or what he has done has been deemed illegal.  Will there be any actions taken against him?”


Lisel Alamilla

“His license, his concession will be canceled with immediate effect.”


Additionally, there is a move by the department to seize Alamilla’s assets, particularly the equipment being used to log and extract rosewood trees.


Wilbur Sabido

“What we’re planning is to, with immediate effect, is to lay charges against the licensee, in this case it’s Mr. Alamilla.  I do realize that on Wednesday night there were other individuals which can easily be identifiable through the footage that the media gathered and we are also proceeding to lay charges against those individuals.  Our plan is to make sure that we do not have a recurrence of this particular incident.  We want to impress on the court and I hope that it does come across fairly well that there are a lot of assets that could actually be seized and that is our intention, not only the rosewood but also all the other assets that are actually found within this particular compound and which also belong to the licensee.”


The action, albeit symbolic, is one that is arguably a far cry from bringing the trade to a complete standstill.  It is, in this case, safe to assume that there are other agents proceeding with the extraction of rosewood despite today’s effort.  It is also the reason why the department is refocusing all its resources and energies on Toledo in 2013 in an effort to make a dent on the business. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


As the rosewood continues to burn, it remains under heavy military guard. 

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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59 Responses for “Minister feels heat and destroys Rosewood”

  1. Attitude says:

    NOT a very good thought process engaged this time… Belize cannot afford to take such action w. lack of resources in so many respects… Leave such measures for countries that have unlimited supply of resources and even then I wouldn’t recommend. How unfortunate! In burning the rosewood EVERYONE loses… They should have instead acquired the rosewood and deployed resulting profits for the benefit of Belizeans’ health, education, welfare, law enforcement, etc… In this case ONLY the illegal logger would have lost… Minister’s statement made was not very powerful after all!!!

  2. busha says:


  3. Seletar says:

    Looking at the “fire”, it looks like it might have been set for the TV cameras only, and EASILY extinguished. Did anyone stay around to see if it was truly burned, or were the flames snuffed out when the cameras left, so the crime could be completed?

  4. Retired CEO says:

    What is very sad about this situation is that, this individual was never elected by the people. She was selected on the basis of nepotism. In short she was selected on the recommendation of The PM’s brother. Nowthen, with all that have been said and done, the minister Alamilla needs to understand that Jewel and its’ natural resources are not the personal property of anyone. Not even the PM, or the ruling party. When it comes to natural resources/comodites, no one has the right to burn/destroy or make any such decision. The Natural resources/comodities are the property of the entire Nation as a whole, not an individual, group, or party but the Nation of Belize. The action/behavior of this minister is emotionally selfish, personal and downright foolish, irrational and irresponsible. From the PM down to the ministers they were all elected/selected to serve the well being of the populace. Now, if this was a case of illicit drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or any contraband, etc, one could understand the situation and would therefore aggree with her actions. But in the light of all the poverty that exsist in the jewel, how could any minister justify this sort of assinine irrational behavior. Exactly what is the point?, that she is trying to prove. Her actions does not prove anything nor serve anyone. In short this is a diservice to the nation/populace and government who claims it cannot pay its’ bills. $400.000 is not a heck of alot of money, but many individulas, families and communiy could benefit from it. Why send it up in flames/smokes. For this reason and many more there should be an investigation into this matter leading up to the removal of this dumb individual from office. Belizeans wake up the current leadership does not have the well being of the people at heart. Rise up against nepotism, cronieism and curruption. Call for a bi-election.

  5. Belizean says:


  6. poor Belize says:

    As ridikulous as can be!!!!!!!! sick stupid and dysfunctional

  7. Belizean says:


  8. for real says:

    Why burn the Rosewood?In what way is the illegal logger punished by that?

  9. Genotu Rembiuos says:

    Evidence burned, no case, what a cover up!!!

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