Garbage Fine Will Be Implemented

No one can argue that the proper disposal of garbage is very important. For some it might seem not to but in reality it is. Whenever a huge amount of garbage is being concentrate in one location then that becomes an environmental hazard. And that's the case we bring to you tonight.

Santa Cruz, a village located near the Belize Mexico Border, is constantly polluted by visitors who cross the Rio Hondo River into Botes to purchase their groceries and a whole lot more at a cheaper price. For those who don't know Botes, it is small Mexican Village located along the banks of the Rio Hondo River.

Today members from the village of Santa Cruz along with non-governmental organizations such as Humana People To People and Youth for the Future, embarked in a cleanup campaign that pretty soon evolved into a message of civic pride for those travelling through Santa Cruz.

Screen_shot_2012-05-08_at_8.03.17_PMHipolito Novelo, Reporting

Santa Cruz- it's a small remote village in the Orange Walk District that lies about half a mile from the Belize-Mexico Border. The small community has become a gate way for many individuals looking to cross the Rio Hondo River into the ever popular Botes which has become a miniature commercial zone that Belizeans flock to, in order to purchase items at a much cheaper price.

It is an illegal point of entry but many individuals exploit it thus creating pollution. With this in mind, this morning, community members along with Humana People To People and Youth for the Future embarked in a cleanup campaign. Wilbert Tzul, the project coordinator for HUMANA is heading the initiative and he told us that the project will most definitely benefit everyone.

Wilbert Tzul, Project Coordinator, HUMANA

"The cleaning campaign is actually structured for us to have a change you see as your camera captured we have a vast amount of garbage and it id the people that contribute to this. I want to use and example when you go to Spanish Lookout or Blue Creek you have the women that run the entire efftort we need to take their example the women there have the community spic and span and if you throw your garbage there they will chase you and bring you back and make you pick up the garbage. The next step will be to follow up with the village chairman with the guys that run the canoes and we will be following up and maybe in one month time we will be having a meeting with the proper authorities."

Every single day a number of buses drop off individuals who have travelled the dusty road in order to hop into a canoe and head to Botes. With so many people trafficking the village, and specifically the narrow canal, pollution has grown. As you can see, empty beer bottles of Dos Equis, plastic bottles of Pepsi and Coca Cola, along with numerous plastic bags of chips and sweets hide the beauty of the river bank.

Wilbert Tzul, Project Coordinator, HUMANA

"I brought with me a public health inspector because in order for us to do the things right and for us to implement the fines for disposing garbage we have to go to the proper authorities. We have to start from scratch, we have to educate them and move them and gradually we will be having a change. The advice I would like to give the public for instance here in Santa Cruz is that people from outside do not throw your garbage out of the bin. We are all doing something good to benefit everyone and it is everybody's concern. Things will change in the near future and if they do not dispose of their garbage properly they will be fined $500.00. We will do the procedures and make sure that it is implemented."

And one of those authorities is the Public Health Sector, which was represented today by Public Health Inspector Karel Heredia. According to Heredia, the accumulation of huge amounts of garbage has transformed the area into a site where vectors can breathe and infect people.

Karel Heredia, Public Health Inspector

"Well actually the accumulation of garbage seems to definitely be creating a problem and I believe that through health education the community will become more aware. That is the strategy that we will be using to reduce the accumulation of garbage. At the moment with the wet season coming we will have a water accumulation thus creating a breeding site for mosquitoes. We will have vectors like malaria and dengue and if we remover the garbage less are the chances of these areas become a breeding site for the mosquitoes."

As for the Village Chairman, Victor Howe, he is hopeful that those travelling in an out of the area show some civic pride by putting garbage in its proper place. But with that comes a lot of work and in order to reach their goal the group has launched an awareness campaign geared towards educating the public about the negative effects of living in an unhealthy environment.

Victor Howe, Chairman

"La mayoría de gente que nos visita vienen a compara mercancía pero el problema de nosotros es que la gente que viene a comprar dejan su basura. Yo les quisiera pedir que cooperen con nosotros botando su basura en el lugar correcto. No s� cuanta gente pasa diario pero es bastante la mayoría cruza s�bado y domingo. Yo le quiero pedir que por favor sean limpios."

After collecting and bagging piles and piles of garbage, the villagers disposed of the unwanted waste at the village's dumpsite which also needs to be relocated.

Karel Heredia, Public Health Inspector

"The problem currently is that it is not an approved dumpsite; however they have been using it for so many years. I will be suggesting to the chairman to get in contact with the relevant authorities so that they can have a village meeting and meet with the councillors so that they can locate a dumpsite which meets all the requirements and regulations when it comes to solid waste disposal and the environment. Presently they are using this one but because of the topography of the land it is not an appropriate site if it rains all the garbage will find its way into the river causing a major pollution."

The meeting is expected to be held early next month. Santa Cruz is but only one out of 23 rural communities in the Orange Walk and Corozal Districts where the cleanup campaign is being carried out.