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#454969 - 01/11/13 02:06 PM Illegal rosewood harvested down south
Marty Offline

A moratorium on the extraction of rosewood is still in place in the south and an assessment has reportedly not yet been completed, but the harvesting of the precious wood continues unabated in the Toledo District. On Wednesday night, a delivery truck preparing to load a large number of rosewood pieces was detected by the head of the Toledo Alcaldes Association, Alfonso Cal, thirty miles outside of Punta Gorda. The Police and Forestry Departments were notified close to midnight of the illegal cargo. It has stirred trouble in the surrounding communities of Golden Stream and Deep River. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The harvest and extraction of rosewood since the enactment of a moratorium by the Forestry Department in March 2012 is an illegal practice; nonetheless, dealers in the south are still very much involved in the unlawful trade.  This stationary tractor, parked across a feeder road near the outskirts of Deep River, is obstructing the passage of a delivery truck, presumably the vessel in which over seven hundred pieces of the prized lumber would have been transported overnight.

Charles Rivas

Charles Rivas, Forest Ranger, Machaca Forest Station

“Last night, while socializing with my friends and my colleagues from Machaca Forest Station in Punta Gorda, I received a call from Officer Baizar from Independence Forest Station informing me about a container loading rosewood at Deep River. This information he had received from the Chief Forest Officer to assist with the apprehension if there is any loading going on. I told him I will address the situation immediately and I proceed to Sgt. Smith from the Punta Gorda Police station and proceeded to Deep River. Upon arriving at Deep River, there was already Punta Gorda’s TV media House there along with personnel from Golden Stream. I try to leave my vehicle but they did not give me any time to get out of my vehicle; they just aggressed me at the side of my vehicle. I asked them to please leave so that I can deal with this situation that I have been informed of. And I proceeded on to do so.”

And when he did, forest ranger Charles Rivas came across a quantity of rosewood, felled and prepared in different lengths.

Charles Rivas

“We found seven hundred and sixty-five round and short fledges. Let me put it in different categories. We have two hundred and twelve fledges—that’s the square planks—and if I should subtract that from, it would be five hundred and fifty-three round posts mixed up with another few pieces of other planks that they didn’t finish cut. So in total it would be something like seven hundred and sixty-five total with everything added all together. Likewise like an amount of sixty-nine barrels. Barrels are the bump from the tree that they cut also that is being sold. I don’t know how or what they use it for. But that’s what was found there.”

Isani Cayetano

“Mister Rivas, who are the principals of these concessions in Deep River area?”

Charles Rivas

“The principal person for these concessions is Mister Hilmar Alamilla.”

Isani Cayetano

“Is what they are doing currently illegal given the fact that there was a moratorium issued on rosewood extraction and harvesting a year or so ago.”

Charles Rivas

“Yes what they have been doing is illegal. None of these things have been stamped. We have pictures prior to our reports that these people have been cutting rosewood and we haven’t been able to find any rosewood. I can’t say that the fledges there right now presently is being cut within that area. I cannot vouch on that; I don’t know exactly where they get it from. The other round logs that are out there is within the area of probably Medina Bank, Golden Stream, Tambran and within that concession.”

According to Rivas, no one has been granted permission to extract rosewood since the ban on its harvesting has not been lifted.  Alamilla, he says, is in violation of that order.  Chief Forest Officer Wilbur Sabido will have the final say as to the outcome of this infraction.

Charles Rivas

“After our report, the Chief Forest Officer will decide as to how we will deal with it—whether it will be removed from there and placed in a safe place. Because we had an incident where we had confiscated some rosewood and it was stolen from us. So we will be moving it if the chief gives us the green light to remove those things along with the assistance of from I don’t know where because our office cannot pay for any transportation or workmen to load those things.”

There have also been allegations that a pair of Chinese nationals had a hand in the illicit activity.

Charles Rivas

“The two Chinese nationals presently that was out there last night and this morning, they are working under Mister Hilmar Alamilla concessions. They are the principals for Mister Alamilla. As to relationship or whatever, I cannot say—what terms they are working under, I cannot vouch on that. I don’t know.”

Isani Cayetano

“Just to reiterate, you are saying that the Chief Forest Officer will be the one to make a decision whether either charges will be brought against Mister Alamilla’s company or what will become of the pieces of rosewood that are currently on the site?”

Charles Rivas

“Yes we will be monitoring that until he gives us the go ahead as to what to do because definitely we will need to get vehicles and workmen to remove those things and I cannot pay from here. This will have to be from Belmopan, everything.”

News Five tried contacting Minister of Forestry Lisel Alamilla earlier today to get an official response from her but we were made to understand that she was in a meeting in Belmopan. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

Despite Rivas’ assertion, there is an unconfirmed report that a license has been issued to another group that exports rosewood. 

Channel 5


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#455014 - 01/12/13 01:52 AM Re: Illegal rosewood harvested down south [Re: Marty]
Wizardofaahs Offline
Is Hilmar Alamilla related to Lisel Alamilla?
_________________________
Words have power. Speak it into existence.

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#455035 - 01/12/13 02:07 PM Re: Illegal rosewood harvested down south [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

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. 

Channel 5


Rosewood goes up in flames in the south

The Minister of Forestry Hon. Lisille Alamilla, along with other forestry officers, were in Golden Stream today burning valuable confiscated rosewood. Since early last year, a Rosewood moratorium has been in effect but, as we have reported on numerous occasions, the illegal harvesting continues. Earlier this week, villagers of Golden Stream in the south stopped a group of Chinese men who were found smuggling the highly coveted wood. We tried contacting both Hon. Lisell Alamilla and Chief Forest Officer Mr. Wilber Sabido but we were told that they are still south. According to our media affiliate, PG TV, who was on site today,Alamilla says that she set the flitches on fire as these have been cut specifically for export. Apparently, corruption is so high in her department that sometimes rosewood is confiscated but still ends up being exported. Through the burning of the rosewood, Alamilla says she is hoping to send a message that she is serious about the Moratorium. Critics say that Alamilla should not have burned the valuable resource but could have found a productive way to utilise it by sending it to a school such as ITVET or other wood shop training centers. But with the rosewood now up in smoke, about one hundred thousand dollars worth of it, Alamilla says that she will distribute the burls to artisans around the country so that they can be turned into art. Some of the burls will also be given to the Kolbe Foundation. A total of 212 Flitches, 500 posts and approximately 70 burls were seized.

PlusTV


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#455114 - 01/13/13 01:46 PM Re: Illegal rosewood harvested down south [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Forestry Minister Makes Bold Move; Burns Illegal Rosewood Cargo

Last night, 7News told you about that big rosewood bust in the Village of Golden Stream in the Toledo District. Currently, it is illegal to extract rosewood, and nobody should have any license to do it because of the indefinite moratorium which hangs over the trade.

That didn't stop licensee Hilmar Alamilla from trying to smuggle hundreds of flitches out, but fortunately, he was caught in the act of trying to move them by villagers who called in the authorities.

Today, we travelled down to Golden Stream to meet with the Minister of Forestry who was scheduled to make a statement on the trade. And what a powerful statement it was! So powerful that it was already attracting major feedback about an hour after it was made in a remote area of the country without any cellular phone service.

What's the statement? Well, you'd have to see it to believe it:..

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Experts from the Forestry Department conservatively estimate that this cargo of rosewood represents a value of $400,000. While cognizant of that, the Minister of Forestry made the decision to burn every last flitch of wood. She says that her Ministry must do it to send a clear message to illegal loggers.

Hon. Lisel Alamilla - Minister Of Forestry
"What we are doing today is burning the rosewood that we confiscated on Wednesday night`. My ministry has had enough; enough is enough. We have been battling this rosewood business for the last 9 months since I assume 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 their moratorium stands."

Fueled by that righteous moral standing, she poured some lighter fluid in the heart of the pile, and set it ablaze. It may seem a waste, and she thought so too; she explained that it was a hard decision.

Hon. Lisel Alamilla - Minister Of Forestry
"It's important for people to know that this is not an easy decision to make but I also want people to know that we have to sustainably manage our forest and the clandestine illegal logging of our natural resources is unacceptable."

And for any lingering doubt, she cleared up that there are currently no permits to extract rosewood. It is totally illegal.

Hon. Lisel Alamilla - Minister Of Forestry
"Absolutely no one has been given any permit to extract; to salvage; to export rosewood. "

And the man who held a license before the moratorium went into effect, Hilmar Alamilla, is facing major repercussions for once again being caught in the act.

Wilbur Sabido - Chief Forestry Officer
"What we are planning is to with immediate effect is to lay charges against the licensee, in this case Mr. Alamillla. I do realize that on Wednesday night that 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 re-occurrence of this particular incident and we want to impress on the court and I hope 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 from within this particular this compound and which also belongs to the licensee."

But in a thriving illegal trade, might this simply be a drop in the bucket? We asked the minister if burning this cargo, as valuable as it is, has any real meaning in the larger scheme.

Daniel Ortiz
"While it is a strong signal Minister at the end of the day it really amounts to nothing because we are unable to truly police the rosewood illegal extractions. What is the next step?"

Hon. Lisel Alamilla - Minister Of Forestry
"It amounts to nothing? Do you have any idea what this rosewood is worth? How much you think its worth? - $400,000.00 at least. If there is not a bigger statement than that - somebody's pocket will be hurting and the villagers will be hurting who are also involved in this. Everyone in this ring of rosewood will be affected because this needs to stop, so I disagree with you."

And there is also no doubt in the Minister's mind that corruption within her ministry has helped to keep illegal logging alive, despite best efforts.

Reporter
"Minister, do you believe there is corruption within the Forestry Department that allows for some of this rosewood to be here?"

Hon. Lisel Alamilla - Minister Of Forestry
"I am certain that there is corruption within my ministry. The difficulty is proving it. This is why the message is also meant for my staff to understand that when I give instructions they must adhere to it."

And while her decision to destroy the cargo will likely attract negative feedback from the public, the Minister has the full support of the local community leaders in the Toledo District.

Alonso Cal - President, Toledo Alcalde Association
"I feel happy about it because you know these people we can show them that they are wrong doing should be stop of doing this kinds of things because we have start from a long time telling them you dint have license - you should do this. You have license for secondary but not with rosewood but you see they have been selling a lot of rosewood in the night and this is what I told them; is the law change that you can go and cut rosewood in the night? I want to find out who is doing this and I have call the minister because the law is still there. When I call for help from the police and the forestry man - they were vexed with me because they know that maybe I am hurting them. With them - they know what's happening but they can't say it in front of you, so when now when I called the Minister and the Minister responded yes we will look into it and now I am very happy she is here to look what is happening. We are not lying."

Daniel Ortiz
"I am sure that many of these big buyers have tried to approach some of your people. How will you discourage them from partaking and facilitating them."

Alonso Cal - President, Toledo Alcalde Association
"As an Alcalde when it do happen because some of our communities do it but they don't tell us but we tell them as an Alcalde that they should come to us. And if anybody comes like this saying to them to cut we should know and find out first if they have a licensee - we want to see the license. They only tell you that yes they have license but they don't show it and that we said that is untrue because if they can't prove the license - that means they were wrong. The Alcalde from Medina came from Wednesday night at my office at 11am in the mooring telling me that the "Chiney" reach at Medina Bank and tells the community to cut because they have a license now. But I tell the Alcalde no, that's untrue because I just call the Minister again and the Minister says there is no license and I know as an Alcalde the rule is on moratorium."

Forestry staff stayed up at the rosewood site in Golden Stream until all the flitches was completely burnt. As for the undersized pieces of rosewood, she says that her ministry will donate them to the communities of the district to be used for domestic purposes. Also, the burls of the rosewood, which are also very valuable, those will be donated to carvers inside the Kolbe Foundation Belize Central Prison, so that they can produce value-added products like sculptures and furniture.

Chief Forestry Officer Wilbur Sabido said that there will be measures put in place to try to combat the corruption within the forestry department, which will include putting senior officers in posts in the Toledo District. And to try to curb the rampant extraction of rosewood, the Forestry Department will increase its personnel in the Toledo District for the entire year.

And if you're wondering if the Hilmar Alamilla has any relation to Minister Alamilla, she categorically stated that they are not related.

And back to public response, several major parties weighed in on it. One of those was the Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development who wrote to the office of the Prime Minister congratulating Forestry Minister Alamilla for making the bold move. The letter states quote, "Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development strongly supports Minister Alamilla's actions today in burning illegally extracted rosewood to graphically illustrate how illegal extraction and exportation of rosewood is burning our country's economy." End quote.

The letter goes on to say that the illegal extraction must stop because it hurts the country economically and socially because there is a perception of the Government of Belize unable or unwilling to stop it. And Alamilla's actions are being criticized by area representatives from Toledo, particularly, PUP's Mike Espat from Toledo East, Oscar Requena from Toledo West. We contacted both, who tell us that the people who they represent are upset that thousands of dollars were wasted.

Requena says that he visted the Forestry Department and he believes that they should have sold the rosewood and upgraded the department, which is in dire need of equipment.

Espat told us that he's trying to get members from the Government to consider giving area residents licenses to salvage the wood for commercial purposes because they are either starting to rot, or they will be destroyed by the fire. He said that he hasn't gotten any headway with that proposal, but he will continue to press for it.

For context we should note that in other countries - such as Gabon - Ivory is burned. In this picture, More than ten thousand pounds of elephant ivory went up in flames - with the fire lit by no less than the president of Gabon.

That cargo was worth 1million European Dollars, or approximately, 1.4 million US Dollars.

Channel 7


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#455261 - 01/15/13 03:01 PM Re: Illegal rosewood harvested down south [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Destruction of rosewood draws condemnation


Rosewood destruction

The destruction of and cache of illegally harvested rosewood flitch’s last week continues to generate much debate and discussion, not only in the Toledo district; but other areas of the country. Correspondent Paul Mahung reports.

The Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO) issued a release today in which it says it applauds Minister Alamilla for her decisive actions to halt the illegal trade of Rosewood and other measures taken to promote the sustainable development of the country’s forest and marine reserve. APAMO says it condemns the Government officers and the private individuals involved in the illegal harvesting of rosewood and their corrupt activities in the illegal trade of hardwoods and calls on the Government of Belize to implement an independent and objective investigation to determine the individuals involved in these illegal and corrupt activities and to apply the full weight of the law on those involved. APAMO also calls on the Government of Belize to allocate sufficient financial resources to the Ministry of Forest, Fisheries and Sustainable Development in order for them to have the capacity to enforce the forest and fisheries laws and to promote the sustainable development of Belize’s natural resources. APAMO says it recognizes that the burning of the rosewood may not be a popular action but given the circumstances they applaud the action of Minister Alamilla in sending a strong statement that the illegal harvesting and illegal trade of our precious natural resources should not be tolerated even if there are government officers involved.

LOVETV


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#455622 - 01/19/13 01:49 PM Re: Illegal rosewood harvested down south [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

PM Says Hon. Alamilla Accepts Rosewood Should Not Have Been Burnt

And it is also precious in Belize - though not widely available. Make no mistake, Rosewood is a prized local hardwood - and though the domestic market can't pay Chinese type money for it - it is much sought after. And that's probably why there's been so much public uproar over the burning of a thousand flitches that happened a week ago. Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla has been alternately praised and pilloried bold action. And somewhere between those two extremes is where we found the Prime Minister. Monica Bodden asked him today what he thinks of the incineration:..

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"She has said to me and to Cabinet that if she had to do it all over again she would do it differently. I understand what motivated her. I understand her feeling that if she had tried to sell the rosewood the only people who have the export connections are the same people that she suspects are engaging in the illegal trade. If she had tried to keep the lumber stored somewhere, no doubt mice would have gotten at it, so I sympathized but quite honestly I would have wished that that had not been done."

And later on we'll have more from the PM when Monica asks him about the gunshots fired at Said Musa's home. But first, we'll consult the weather report to see how long the cold front will be hanging around.


Rosewood Under Lock!

Tonight two 20 foot containers of Rosewood remain impounded at the Forestry Department in Belmopan pending investigation.

As we reported, those containers were discovered yesterday evening at the compound of Belize Engineering - which is right next to Customs headquarters in Belize City. The Forestry Department, the CIB, Customs and BAHA responded to the information that the Rosewood was being held there - likely awaiting shipment. This is taken by the authorities to be a violation on the moratorium on Rosewood extraction and exportation because the hundreds of flitches had no official stamp from the Forestry Department. Additionally, customs had only released the containers at the end of 2012 - well after the moratorium went into effect.

And so, yesterday evening, Forestry quickly took both containers to Belmopan for safe storage. The other container that was discovered yesterday is a forty foot one with twenty-eight tons of rosewood flitches. That was found at the Belize-Guatemala Western Border. It was supposedly to be imported into Belize and then shipped out. But, authorities believe that the Rosewood originatd in Belize and was actually smuggled to the other side of the border - to make it seem like it was being imported. At any rate, Guatemala cannot export Rosewood in log form so that too is being held at the Western border.

And, in case there's any doubt what all the fuss and hustling is about, each of these containers has a value in the hundreds of thousands of US dollars. Rosewood is a precious and dear commodity in China.

Channel 7


ROSEWOOD, ROSEWOOD EVERYWHERE – AND IT’S ILLEGAL!!

In the past couple weeks the issue of illegal rosewood extraction has literally exploded into the public consciousness. Illegal rosewood shipments have been confiscated by Government, but to date, no one is in prison for the offence against our Belizean patrimony; in fact, no one has even been taken to court for the matter, and the Belizean public has not been told why.

Confiscated rosewood has disappeared out of a Government compound, and no one has been held accountable. Hon. Lisell Alamilla, whose portfolio includes Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, has publicly burned a number of confiscated rosewood logs to show her determination to put an end to the illegal trade, but the “burning” question remains as to why no one is in prison for the crime.

Today, officially, the Forestry Department and the Customs Department “are investigating the origin of a 40-foot container containing approximately 28 tons of rosewood flitches which is being held by the Belize Customs Department at the Belize-Guatemala Western Border. The container was being brought into Belize via the Western Border on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.”

The information to Amandala is that 380 pieces of rosewood are being held at the Customs Department at the Western Border in Benque Viejo del Carmen.

The press release adds that the Forestry Department “is working with its counterpart in Guatemala and is awaiting confirmation on the origin and legitimacy of the rosewood material. Guatemala has imposed a restriction on the exportation of rosewood in the log forms (flitches), sawn wood and veneer sheets.”

This particular rosewood situation differs from the others that made news over the past few weeks. This situation is not a bust on the wood, but rather the transfer of a container of wood being delayed until the arrival of documentation to confirm the place of origin of the wood. The container did come from Guatemala; that fact is not being disputed. The issue in question, is from where exactly did the wood come?

There is a suspicion that the wood was extracted from forests in Belize, and was, to avoid trouble due to our moratorium on the product, transported to Guatemala, and brought back to Belize to look as if it was shipped from Guatemala.

Lorian Frazer, Customs Clerk One in the investigations department of Customs at the Western Border, said that he was aware of the illegal extraction of rosewood in Belize, and when he found out what the contents of the container were, it was decided that some documentation was necessary. Frazer said he reported to work after the shipment came in yesterday, Wednesday.

“Yesterday a trailer came into the compound from Guatemala and they requested it to be transferred into the shipper’s container because it came in a trailer, from a Guatemalan trailer,” he said.

Frazer said that it was not an unusual request for foreign shipments to be transferred to Belizean containers.

“Normally cargo that comes in Guatemalan trailers are transferred to some local trucks because foreign trucks aren’t allowed to go into Belize, unless they are specialized cargo, and since this shipment is destined for, or intransit, when the shipper’s container arrived and the Guatemalan trailer loaded into the shipper’s container so that the trailer could return to Guatemala,” he said.

The container of wood is being held at the border in custody of the Customs Department until the shipper presents certification of origin for the wood. Frazer said that there is no timeframe given to shippers to present such a type of documentation.

“The protocol would be, well he’s basically on his time,” Frazer said. “If he doesn’t produce what we’re asking, then his shipment doesn’t go anywhere. The shipment is within his interest. The goods just won’t go if they don’t meet what we’re requiring.”

Frazer said that he does not know who the shipper of the container is. He said that the container arrived and they just honored the request to ship it. The only information on the invoice for the container is where the shipment came from, where it is going, and what the contents are.

For the readers who do not know how a broker operates, a broker doing transshipment must receive a manifesto for the shipment entering into Belize and produce an export-entry permit. However, for an intransit shipment, a permit is not always necessary, because Belize is not the final destination for the goods. That was the case in this situation, with the container being transported. The final destination stated on the invoice is China.

Policarpio Manzanero was the broker responsible for the shipment after it arrived at the border. Anwar Hegar was the employee for the broker present at the border to take the shipment.

“My responsibility is getting all the merchandise here to be imported into Belize legally,” Hegar said. “So we have to do the paperwork for everything. We need to get the invoice and the cost of departure and the export-entry from Guatemala, so we can start to do our paperwork for the process for everything to be legal, so everything could be duty paid into Belize.”

Hegar said that when he went in to Customs, he informed the officers that he was there to pick up a shipment of lumber and when asked what type of lumber, he said rosewood. He said that he only knew what information was already told to him about the shipment.

“I really can’t say too much, because yesterday, I came and the truck was parked in the compound and when I came here the trucker, the Guatemalan trucker, he came in and gave me the papers for processing the paperwork. So that’s the only thing I could tell you,” he said.

Hegar said that after being told that he could not take the shipment, he contacted Manzanero in Belize City, who said that he was going to tell a person, only identified by the name “Cawich,” that a certificate of origin was needed in order for the shipment to be cleared.

Hegar said that he did not know the name or location of the company requesting the shipment, other than it is a Chinese company. Hegar said it was his boss’ first time working with the company. He said that he had shipped other type of woods before, but that it was the first time he saw a shipment of rosewood.

“Back in the years, a gentleman was bringing in lumber, but not like this,” he said. “It’s already chipped into pieces, but not like this. This is the first time we’re dealing with this and we’re trying to get everything legally so it could come into Belize.”

Hegar said that he did not have permission to provide any contact information for either Manzanero or Cawich.

Frazer said that the wood being held at the western border will neither be shipped to China nor taken back to Guatemala. It cannot go back to Guatemala because it has already been declared by Customs, and it cannot go to China until it is proven by proper documentation that the wood is not from Belize.

It is only hoped that the wood will not go “missing” from the Customs compound before the authorities find out where the wood really came from. Frazer said that the persons charged to look after the wood must be trusted to ensure that that will not happen.

“The property is manned by watchmen and Customs are here 24 hours; the gates are padlocked, so I guess you have to base it on the people working, the integrity of the people working,” he said.

According to the invoice that came along with the shipment, the wood was intransit heading for exportation to its final destination, China. It has been said that the rosewood is in high demand in China. It is also believed that most, if not all, of the illegally harvested rosewood which has been found before in Belize were for shipment to China.

Yes, there have been several busts of illegally harvested rosewood. Yes, Minister Alamilla has made her statement against the illegal harvesting of the wood by burning hundreds of pieces of rosewood that were found just last week. However, the question still remains, who is behind all of this illegal rosewood harvesting? And to add to that, could this container of rosewood be the set of wood that went missing from government property in December 2012? If the rosewood at the Western Border turns out to be rosewood from Belize, how did the wood get to Guatemala? And how much more wood is probably over the Guatemalan border waiting to be shipped as if it came from Guatemala, in an effort to evade the official Belize moratorium on the harvesting of our precious rosewood?


ILLEGAL BELIZE ROSEWOOD SURFACES…FROM GUATEMALA?

Guatemala has a restriction on the exportation of rosewood in log form, and Belize has a moratorium on the product, so where did the rosewood at the Western Border come from?

In the past couple weeks the issue of illegal rosewood extraction has literally exploded into the public consciousness. Illegal rosewood shipments have been confiscated by Government, but to date, no one is in prison for the offence against our Belizean patrimony; in fact, no one has even been taken to court for the matter, and the Belizean public has not been told why.

Confiscated rosewood has disappeared out of a Government compound, and no one has been held accountable. Hon. Lisell Alamilla, whose portfolio includes Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, has publicly burned a number of confiscated rosewood logs to show her determination to put an end to the illegal trade, but the “burning” question remains as to why no one is in prison for the crime.

Today, officially, the Forestry Department and the Customs Department “are investigating the origin of a 40-foot container containing approximately 28 tons of rosewood flitches which is being held by the Belize Customs Department at the Belize-Guatemala Western Border. The container was being brought into Belize via the Western Border on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.”

The information to Amandala is that 380 pieces of rosewood are being held at the Customs Department at the Western Border in Benque Viejo del Carmen.

The press release adds that the Forestry Department “is working with its counterpart in Guatemala and is awaiting confirmation on the origin and legitimacy of the rosewood material. Guatemala has imposed a restriction on the exportation of rosewood in the log forms (flitches), sawn wood and veneer sheets.”

This particular rosewood situation differs from the others that made news over the past few weeks. This situation is not a bust on the wood, but rather the transfer of a container of wood being delayed until the arrival of documentation to confirm the place of origin of the wood. The container did come from Guatemala; that fact is not being disputed. The issue in question, is from where exactly did the wood come?

There is a suspicion that the wood was extracted from forests in Belize, and was, to avoid trouble due to our moratorium on the product, transported to Guatemala, and brought back to Belize to look as if it was shipped from Guatemala.

Lorian Frazer, Customs Clerk One in the investigations department of Customs at the Western Border, said that he was aware of the illegal extraction of rosewood in Belize, and when he found out what the contents of the container were, it was decided that some documentation was necessary. Frazer said he reported to work after the shipment came in yesterday, Wednesday.

“Yesterday a trailer came into the compound from Guatemala and they requested it to be transferred into the shipper’s container because it came in a trailer, from a Guatemalan trailer,” he said.

Frazer said that it was not an unusual request for foreign shipments to be transferred to Belizean containers.

“Normally cargo that comes in Guatemalan trailers are transferred to some local trucks because foreign trucks aren’t allowed to go into Belize, unless they are specialized cargo, and since this shipment is destined for, or intransit, when the shipper’s container arrived and the Guatemalan trailer loaded into the shipper’s container so that the trailer could return to Guatemala,” he said.

The container of wood is being held at the border in custody of the Customs Department until the shipper presents certification of origin for the wood. Frazer said that there is no timeframe given to shippers to present such a type of documentation.

“The protocol would be, well he’s basically on his time,” Frazer said. “If he doesn’t produce what we’re asking, then his shipment doesn’t go anywhere. The shipment is within his interest. The goods just won’t go if they don’t meet what we’re requiring.”

Frazer said that he does not know who the shipper of the container is. He said that the container arrived and they just honored the request to ship it. The only information on the invoice for the container is where the shipment came from, where it is going, and what the contents are.

For the readers who do not know how a broker operates, a broker doing transshipment must receive a manifesto for the shipment entering into Belize and produce an export-entry permit. However, for an intransit shipment, a permit is not always necessary, because Belize is not the final destination for the goods. That was the case in this situation, with the container being transported. The final destination stated on the invoice is China.

Policarpio Manzanero was the broker responsible for the shipment after it arrived at the border. Anwar Hegar was the employee for the broker present at the border to take the shipment.

“My responsibility is getting all the merchandise here to be imported into Belize legally,” Hegar said. “So we have to do the paperwork for everything. We need to get the invoice and the cost of departure and the export-entry from Guatemala, so we can start to do our paperwork for the process for everything to be legal, so everything could be duty paid into Belize.”

Hegar said that when he went in to Customs, he informed the officers that he was there to pick up a shipment of lumber and when asked what type of lumber, he said rosewood. He said that he only knew what information was already told to him about the shipment.

“I really can’t say too much, because yesterday, I came and the truck was parked in the compound and when I came here the trucker, the Guatemalan trucker, he came in and gave me the papers for processing the paperwork. So that’s the only thing I could tell you,” he said.

Hegar said that after being told that he could not take the shipment, he contacted Manzanero in Belize City, who said that he was going to tell a person, only identified by the name “Cawich,” that a certificate of origin was needed in order for the shipment to be cleared.

Hegar said that he did not know the name or location of the company requesting the shipment, other than it is a Chinese company. Hegar said it was his boss’ first time working with the company. He said that he had shipped other type of woods before, but that it was the first time he saw a shipment of rosewood.

“Back in the years, a gentleman was bringing in lumber, but not like this,” he said. “It’s already chipped into pieces, but not like this. This is the first time we’re dealing with this and we’re trying to get everything legally so it could come into Belize.”

Hegar said that he did not have permission to provide any contact information for either Manzanero or Cawich.

Frazer said that the wood being held at the western border will neither be shipped to China nor taken back to Guatemala. It cannot go back to Guatemala because it has already been declared by Customs, and it cannot go to China until it is proven by proper documentation that the wood is not from Belize.

It is only hoped that the wood will not go “missing” from the Customs compound before the authorities find out where the wood really came from. Frazer said that the persons charged to look after the wood must be trusted to ensure that that will not happen.

“The property is manned by watchmen and Customs are here 24 hours; the gates are padlocked, so I guess you have to base it on the people working, the integrity of the people working,” he said.

According to the invoice that came along with the shipment, the wood was intransit heading for exportation to its final destination, China. It has been said that the rosewood is in high demand in China. It is also believed that most, if not all, of the illegally harvested rosewood which has been found before in Belize were for shipment to China.

Yes, there have been several busts of illegally harvested rosewood. Yes, Minister Alamilla has made her statement against the illegal harvesting of the wood by burning hundreds of pieces of rosewood that were found just last week. However, the question still remains, who is behind all of this illegal rosewood harvesting? And to add to that, could this container of rosewood be the set of wood that went missing from government property in December 2012? If the rosewood at the Western Border turns out to be rosewood from Belize, how did the wood get to Guatemala? And how much more wood is probably over the Guatemalan border waiting to be shipped as if it came from Guatemala, in an effort to evade the official Belize moratorium on the harvesting of our precious rosewood?

Amandala


Recommendations to end the illegal extraction of rosewood

Coc also made recommendations on how to proceed to put an end to the illegal extraction of the natural resource.

Via Phone: Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance

“We are asking the ministry and the minister in particular to launch an inquiry into this situation; to establish a sound investigating team who will find out who is involved. And it doesn’t matter who these people are. Whether they are political officials, whether they are officers in various departments and ministries; whether they are locals, whether they are foreign developers—all that is involved in crime need to be brought to justice. And that investigation needs to be made public not only to the Mayan communities, but Belizeans in general. Second, we want to call an immediate halt an immediate revocation of the concession that is current for Hilmar Alamilla given the situation that transpired just last weekend in Golden Stream. We would also like to know who the agent developers are and have that made public. But we want to state that the government needs to recognize the Supreme Court’s decision and the standing injunction and needs to ensure that all government ministries are respecting that injunction. Third, I wanna state here that it is only through the assistance of the local leaders, the Alcaldes, who have been made these reports time and time again—it is not forest officers that are going out there finding that there is illegal logging happening; it is our very own traditional leaders who are monitoring, who are taking care of our lands, that have reported time and time again. And if it wasn’t for their reports, nobody—this wouldn’t come to light—nobody would know that this is happening.”

Coc says that if the rosewood was not set on fire, it more than likely would have ended back into the hands of the agent.

Channel 5


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#457553 - 02/08/13 02:19 PM Re: Illegal rosewood harvested down south [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Fates Of Various Rosewood

Tonight two containers of Rosewood are sitting at the Forestry Department compound in Belmopan. And then there's also the container sitting at the Benque Viejo border.

And so, today, after a morning show appearance, the Chief Forest Officer gave the full rundown on those two containers plus one more we reported on a month ago. That one was confiscated at the Port of Belize, because it was believed to have undeclared logs inside. Turns out it did have zericote logs. Wilbur Sabido explained:..

Wilbur Sabido
"However, when we opened the container and we found the Zericote in round or log form - that is against the law essentially. Zericote is protected species; it can only be exported as a value added product. So in that particular instance we seize the produce from the container. The exporter is a known exporter to us. He goes by the name of Anita Lou based originally out of Roaring Creek and now operating out of Orange Walk. The other situation is one that is more known which was about a month or so ago where we got reports that there were two containers in Belize Engineering yard that had rosewood in it and we contacted Police, Customs, BAHA and all the law enforcement agencies and it was so we actually had a 20' and 40' container that we took to our compound and when we off load it, it was a total of about 15,000 board feet that we were of rosewood that we were able to document. That particular exporter goes by the name of Kambokin. The two persons that registered that particular company - I can only recall the name of one; it's Pererra. In this particular instance we have only manage to make contact through the broker Mr. Raul Cawich. It's through him and with the DPP we are working to see how we can make contact with the actual owner of the material."

Reporter
"I am updating the confiscation in Benque."

Wilbur Sabido
"That particular situation is out of our hands at this point in the sense that it's still customs custody simply because customs gives a time period for the owner of the material to present legitimate documents and within a particular period of time they cannot present such documents then the controller of customs can then move to seize the property. Also at the same time because we suspect that the material is of Guatemalan origin we also contacted the Guatemalan authorities and they are very much concern about the fact that they have a container with rosewood of Guatemalan origin ending up in the customs area."

Reporter
"We don't expect its Guatemalan origin."

Wilbur Sabido
"Well it's alleged, but the Guatemalan authorities are doing their own investigation. We have our own suspicions."

Jules Vasquez
"We know you've been criticized in some quarters of the public for destroying wealth in destroying those flitches at Medina Bank. With these once they go through the process, might they be used for productive purpose?"

Minister Lisel Alamilla
"We haven't decided yet what we will do because we continue to find rosewood. In fact there are regular reports and we are confiscating 20-30 flitches at a time, so the amount of rosewood that we have on our hands are increasing almost on a weekly basis and we definitely have to put something forward to Cabinet for them to consider. So that decision won't lie with just my ministry."

Kambokin Enterprises Ltd is registered at a San Andres Road Address in Corozal.

As at August 19, 2012, the shareholders are Moses Liston Leslie and Sylvestre Tzib. In Dec, 2011 Kenny Zheng and Annie Zhou as joint subscribers voluntarily waived their rights to take up any shares in Kambokin enterprises limited.

Channel 7


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