Photographer Tony Rath Details Chiquibul Experience in Online Article
Renowned professional photographer Tony Rath recently accompanied Friends of Conservation and Development into the depths of the Chiquibul National Park in Western Belize. His trip into the vast wilderness abutting the Guatemalan frontier is visually documented and stands as moving piece of photojournalism.
Rath’s experiences, having personally witnessed the pillaging of Belize’s natural resources at the hands of Guatemalan poachers, also inform the details of an article that is currently in circulation online. The editorial titled ‘In Belize, All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter’ looks at the looting, desecration and annexation of the Chiquibul Forest.
While it is told from a first-person point of view, the piece raises serious concerns about what we value as Belizeans. Upon reaching the Ceibo Chico Command Post, Rath describes his observation of what is a seemingly lax state of affairs at the remote location. He writes, “No sentries are in sight even though tensions are high with Guatemala and there are known illegals in the area. Soldiers scamper about the command post, half of them in shorts and sandals and unarmed, the others lifting backpacks and weapons racing towards the oncoming tractor like horses returning to a stable after a long ride; they are on their way home after two weeks at the CCCP.” Elsewhere in the article, Rath quotes from a conversation he had with George Paul Boyinton, who has been mining legally in Ceibo Chico for many years. Boyinton says, “The B.D.F. come and go on a regular schedule, and if I know it, the Guatemalans know it. The Guats are very tactical. They know when the soldiers are on patrol, and that the B.D.F. do not patrol at night, so the Guats move the ore bearing quartz rock in 150 lb sacks at night across the border for processing. We often work side by side with the illegals without bothering each other. They are there right now.”
Despite the vivid account of Rath’s experience, there is a disclaimer stating that his views are his own and not that of FCD, the Belize Defense Force or the Government of Belize.
Tony Rath will appear as a guest on Open Your Eyes on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing plunder of the Chiquibul Forest.