TAA/TEA seek support

The Toledo Alcalde's Association (TAA) and the Toledo Eco Tourism Association (TEA) are seeking support from the people of Belize and the rest of the world in saving their portion of the rainforest of Belize. The Toledo People's Eco-Park is a plan to help the people of the towns and villages of the Toledo District create their own sustainable businesses while maintaining their culture, land, and preserving the endangered rainforest and reef.

The following is a letter from the TEA and TAA concerning the Toledo area and the Toledo People's Eco-Park.

1. The Belizeans of rural Toledo are the poorest and most in need in our country.

2. They have the potential to be among the wealthiest by establishing a tri-industrial Eco-Park that will benefit the rest of Belize as well.

3. The technical and financial aid that is needed is currently available here in Toledo to help the people and government to establish this park.

4. By taking the initiative and supporting the Eco-Park, the new government can immediately begin to offer jobs in and around each and every community, thereby fulfilling their promise and creating a very positive local and international image for the beginning of the new Belize.

5. Millions and millions of dollars worth of advertising, marketing and promotion for Belize and the products and services for the proposed Toledo People's Eco-Park can be obtained for free from the international news and conservation and travel media if government gives full support at this time.

6. The plain fact is that today all is being lost to foreign loggers, tourism developers, land speculators and others who are daily cutting down the last of the valuable trees of the rainforest and getting control of the best spots for tourism development, land for farming, etc.

7. The foremen and other locals who work for some of these loggers and investors are telling the people that the conservation NGO's and our government of Belize can't stop them and in fact the government of Belize is behind all this and encouraging them.

8. Much of the development aid that is here is rapidly being spent in salaries and operation expenses. An estimated $50,000,000 dollars of so-called "development aid" has gone before it over the last fifteen years, with very little, if any, noticeable effects or improvement in the deplorable living conditions of the people.

9. The new international highway will soon be completed. If the people of Toledo, and the other districts it will pass through are not prepared with a good development plan to help them regulate and control the growth, then all will be quickly wiped out. This always happens to the environment and people where such a road is built when they do not have the benefit of a plan to protect them. We need to conserve and protect the natural resources and the Belizean people's first right to reap and equally share their benefits.

10. If the people, the government and the funding agencies can agree to use the framework or skeleton of the proposed Toledo People's Eco- Park as the beginning point, then all can begin immediately to help the people where and when needed, to put the flesh, blood, heart and soul into the establishment.

11. For these and other reasons the delegation from Toledo promoting the park would like to address the House of Representatives as soon as possible.

12. The members of the delegation, on behalf of all their members, ask the Belizeans and others in the world who care to call, fax, write or e-mail our Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, the Ministers of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Belize Tourist Board, the Belize Audubon Society, The Belize Tourism Industry Association and all others whom you think will want to help. Please tell them how you will support the park by purchasing the products and services produced by the park. Your demand for them will make the difference. Please send us a copy of your letter to them, here in Toledo at - Toledo People's Eco-Park, Box 75, Punta Gorda, Belize, Central America, Fax: 501-722199, E-mail: thfec@btl.net.

Thank you

/s/ William Schmidt
Senior Consultant, TEA/TAA

Editors Note: The follow-up to this is that as a result of a recent delegation from Toledo going to Belize City concerning the logging in Toledo, a special committee has been appointed to look into these matters. This review committee is comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the timber industry, Mayan and environmental NGO community. They will be looking into logging licenses granted to the Malaysian logging companies and the economic, social, and environmental impact these licenses have had on the people of Toledo. A subsequent letter was received at our office from the people of the Toledo District thanking everyone for their support and reminding people that collectively we can make a difference. They still need your support, so if you would like to send a letter or receive an illustrated booklet describing their vision for the Eco-Park please contact the address listed in this article.

TAA/TEA seek support

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