Forestry Minister, Right Back At Protestors

On Tuesday - 60 Mayans from the Toledo district staged a demonstration on Independence Hill in Belmopan - demanding that the moratorium on Rosewood be lifted.

Their argument was that they have all their money tied up in Rosewood on the ground - and the moratorium has turned their valuable commodity into a wasting asset.

They brought heat on the new Forestry Minister Lisel Alamilla - and last night on the Lik Road Talk Show - she put that heat right back on them.

She said the majority of the communities and the Alcaldes support a moratorium - and that the protest was the product of a few very wealthy folks pushing buttons. Here are her remarks:..

Minister Lisel Alamilla
"If you know who is leading this you would understand what the agenda is. This is being led by the agents who are the buyers. They are the ones who are paying $4 a board foot to the Mayan villagers who are doing all the hard work."

"I want to say that one of the protesters that was interviewed is the alcalde from Medina Bank and I have with me a petition signed from Medina Bank - a petition of 30, because I was working on this prior to being appointed as minister because this is a subject that is very dear to my heart. We have 30 alcaldes that have signed on to this petition and of it 26 voted that they wanted a full stop - moratorium on this matter and only 3 said that they want to continue."

"26 of them voted and said; "The government of Belize should prohibit the export of raw rosewood lumber. Rosewood should only be exported as a finish or semi-finished product." There are 39 Maya villages in the Toledo District and of that we have 30 of them that have sign on to this petition."

"Those persons that are speaking are the ones who have been made millionaires and of course they are not happy about what's happening because this will now be regulated."

"People perhaps don't fully understand. We are not closing down the logging business; we have no intentions of doing that."

The Chief Forestry Officer has said that those who have Rosewood on the ground will be allowed to sell it…eventually. But, first, the purpose of the moratorium is to stop the cutting - so that a thorough assessment can be made of the state of the forestry resource.

Channel 7