Another threat that to the Chiquibul that keeps the FCD management up at night is gold panning. The co-managers have tried their best to discourage this type of activity in the national park, but no matter what they do, gold panners continue their operations.
FCD's Rafael Manzanero told us that it should concern you because gold panners compromise the water sources which flow out of the national park. He underscored that many Belizeans in the Cayo District depend on these same water sources:
Rafael Manzanero - Executive Director, FCD
"The gold panning is one of the other issues that is taking place in the Chiquibul. This has been ongoing for the last 7 years. Why we have not been able to disrupt this, to contain it, as we all know, gold is a valuable resources. So, people will come in. We put the Ceibo Chico Conservation Post in 2012, and yet, we still have not been able to contain this. Our determination is that we will have to operate at night, if we really want to disrupt this particular activity. So, once again, we are going back to the regulatory agencies, and hopefully be able to plan a strategy on how to do this. Why are we really so worried about gold panning. 1, of course, we are losing the resources, but secondly, it is disrupting the head waters that really important to all of us that depend on that water resource, which is inclusive of way down here, all the up in those communities up into the western part of Belize, because that is the main head waters. So, we need to ensure that we can maintain the viability of those processes up there."
The FCD is considering night-time enforcement operations, to catch majority of the panners in the act.
In other news related to the Belize - Guatemala dispute, unofficial reports say that OAS Representative for Belize - Guatemala Affairs Magdalena Talamas has been removed. We could not confirm this but we do know that for months now, the Guatemalans have been pushing to have her removed. This is after Belize's armed forces were vindicated in a report on the killing of Julio Alvarado Ruano.