For Caracol & Chiquibul

There was a stakeholder meeting over the weekend to discuss the future of the archeological reserve and the ‪#‎Chiquibul‬ national park. At the meeting was Belize Tourism Board, NICH, the Institute of Archeology, the Tourism Police Unit, the San Ignacio Police Department, the Friends for Conservation and a selected few of the Cayo Tour Guides Association (CTGA).

A few of the suggestions are already taking place such as clearing the underbrush and building an outpost. The opening of the site will be determined sometime this week.

However, the recommendations of the CTGA are listed below

1. There is a need to increase the military on the entire route toward Caracol and also at the site. They have to be on the route strategically from 7am. In this way we would be able to access the site for better tourism activities such as ornithology and botanical tours (This may mean that instead of 2 week shifts, one week shifts might be the best option for the defense personnel)

• It is the hope of the CTGA that we can get back Caracol all together for all the purposes it offers to our industry including tours such as: archaeological tours, ornithology, ecology, hiking, and camping among others.

• The CTGA would like to have a better rapport with the TPU and the Armed forces or every security option available for our safety at the site.

• The CTGA would like a review of the security convoy that accompanies our tours to Caracol

• The CTGA would like to discuss the efforts of “taking back” our El Pilar

• There is need for a manned booth (at all times) at D’Silva.

2. There is need to underbrush the area of at least 200 meters or more nearer to the site. This is a thinning not a deforesting option. Perhaps there is need to learn how the Tikal National Park organizes their security.

• The under brush is necessary for best visibility within the park and on the perimeter.

• This activity was prominent once (even behind the South Acropolis)

3. There is need to access routes for ATV’s and access to the perimeter and standing, manned security booths of the site to best patrol for the protection of everyone at the site.

• This idea is one that is prominent at the site of Tikal. The idea is creating wider trails that can accommodate small vehicles and ATV’s for better patrols and for faster response in the case of emergency (may be too loud)

• Manned security booths are representative of sustained patrols and will accommodate better and safer options for safety

4. There is a need to educate the ‪#‎Belize‬ Defense Force on the processes of tourism and how a tour at the site is organized. They need to be more proactive and disciplined in their responsibilities at the site instead of waiting for the time to leave the park, as we have experienced with them many times.

• The CTGA offers itself to help the Security forces become more educated on the processes of our tours. We are prepared at anytime to take any entourage to the site to do a walk through of the different tour routes within the park.

• The BDF are too relax at the site and many times seem bored when in our opinion they should be patrolling. We have witnessed the security forces abandoning their firearm on the picnic tables and many times mishandling their weapons – we have not seen this anywhere else where we visit archaeological sites.

• It is important to communicate to the security forces their role at these archaeological sites.

5. There is a need for NICH to train their own wardens with direct
responsibility for the park as Friends for Conservation and Development.

• The sites don’t just need more wardens, they need more trained wardens – even in the first aid training and importantly in at least basic security management and at best, properly trained personnel for the best security opportunity

• If not immediately, shortly, NICH needs its own transport at specifically this site to best manage emergencies (even if its an accident the pressure would come that one of the tourism based vehicles would have to abandon their tours to use their vehicles

6. There is a need for a multi task force including the BTB, NICH, the Armed forces, and the Forestry Department, for the best protection of the route to and at the parks of Caracol, and the larger Chiquibul area.

• This has been a tragic problem for FCD and perhaps for NICH. What this does it really punishes communication and collaboration for the best possible management of the parks and our national forests
• These institutions above have the necessary resources for better communication but what has been lacking is the will

7. There is a need to aggressively reach out to friends throughout the world for support for the defense of our entire forests. This is lacking and it is very disgraceful that perhaps only FCD has been trying to reach out to the international community.

• The BTB perhaps, on behalf of tourism and NICH on behalf of our archaeological parks and the Ministry of Natural Resources (Forestry) can organize a marketing campaign internationally to get people to know the plight of the devastation of our natural resources (Perhaps this will agitate agencies to pay attention to the Guatemalan government’s abandoning not only their Chiquibul protected area but also their people living impoverished and who are now attacking our natural resources and our people)

8. The army and tourism police personnel should be given weapons and gear appropriate for the terrain and the type of security that is necessary in these forested areas where we take our tourists.

• The CTGA is not an army but the people who are coming into our protected areas and our archaeological and tourism parks are tactical and are funded well. There is need to get the security forces the bulletproof vests, night vision goggle, binoculars and even the necessary jungle footwear.

• It is even more important that these security personnel have the necessary training and arms that will help with the best protection of the site and the people at the site.