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Jun 9, 2014

The Maya Leaders Alliance wants back its stolen rosewood

Cristina Coc

In May, an undisclosed amount of rosewood went missing from the Savannah Forest Station. It was later discovered that the rosewood, confiscated during April operations in the south by the Forest Department, was sold off at a highly preferential price to the brother of Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega. Government is remaining mum on official details of the rosewood sale. Thirty-one pieces of rosewood in that missing stock was confiscated from the villagers of Medina Bank, who had confiscated it from illegal loggers. The understanding was that it would be returned to them following the operation. According to Maya Leaders Alliance spokesperson Cristina Coc, they’re fed up of being stonewalled, and they want back their rosewood.


Cristina Coc, Maya Leaders Alliance

“To date, we have not heard a single thing from the Forest Department. We have written several communications. They have not written us back. They have not told us if the missing rosewood included those that were confiscated from Medina Bank. In fact the Medina Bank villagers are here and they are here because they recognize that in the middle of the night officials come and steal what is rightfully ours and have no courtesy, even the decency to come and say…look we lost it…you know, I believe that we have to hold our leaders accountable. We don’t need successive leaders who will just be okay with the indifference. We need leaders who will be able to be honest with our people, to be able to tell us what is going on. We recognize the corruption in the Forest Department, and so we stand against that. We want our rosewood back.”



“What are your people on the ground telling you? Is the illegal harvesting of rosewood continuing?”


Cristina Coc

“The illegal harvesting of rosewood is continuing. It is continuing at the hands of people we don’t even know who are coming into our communities. And when our Alcaldes, our traditional leaders move to bring these people to a stop, officials from the Forest Department and B.D.F. come and they intervene and they take away what is already being corrected by the village itself. We have a system of self-governance. We are an autonomous people. We have always regulated and managed our lands. But with the government interference – they call it intervention we call it interference – they come and they take what is rightfully the authority of our leaders to confiscate those logs.”

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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