The controversial nineteen day rosewood amnesty was declared closed last week Friday. According to Channel 7, the amnesty day ended with Minister Lisell Alamilla posting on her face book page, and we quote, ” Tomorrow is a new day. For those who care and wonder, I still love my job.” end of quote. Yesterday, in the Prime Minister’s press conference, he said that the amnesty is now over and he has no regrets.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
What was seized, we know, is just a small portion of what is out there being hidden.which will either just rot, or the people will try to find some back-door way to get it out. So why not do the amnesty, bring it in. There has to be an inducement to the people to bring it in. Let them have the hassle of the logistics, collecting it, we stamp it, sent it out, to give them a share. Use the proceeds for the Ministry to complete the inventory, so that thereafter we can proceed on a proper basis. I cannot be oblivious to public opinion, I cannot be disrespectful of public opinion but I still think that that was a legitimate, simple and practical way to go.
The Prime Minister also added that the little man also benefited from the Government’s decision.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
Look there’s talk of principals that were involved and connection to the UDP. While those that do the actual exports are limited in number – the people who cut the rosewood and sell to the brokers and exporters are regular folk in Toledo. And if you go down there, I am sure you will find that the majority of them want to see an open trade in the rosewood. And they tell you, “We want eat.” The Government is responsible and we can’t have that. But, my point is that when we did the amnesty, it didn’t just benefit to the limited extent it did, the principles, the exporters, it benefited the people from whom the exporters buy.
Today, four days after the amnesty is over, PlusTV journeyed south to see if the governmet’s assurances matched up with what was really taking place on the ground. What we found was an abundant supply of rosewood flitches, comprised of old and what appeared to be freshly cut rosewood.
They were on holding compounds only minutes away from the Toledo Forestry department. The amnesty period was to clear what was on the ground before the CITES regulations kick in. But today, we found two locations where it looked exactly as it did when the whole rosewood season was in full swing and with some of the same rosewood players the country has come to know. At the first site we saw old and apparently new flitches again, close to 100 flitches. Along with those flitches was a team of men apparently waiting to move the rosewood.
When we passed back four hours later, those rosewood were gone.
The second location had even more flitches than the previous site; hundreds of them and most of them appeared to be freshly cut. Most of the rosewood appeared camouflaged with palm branches. PlusNews’s visit to the site did not sit well with those there. Our camera crew was stoned as insults were also hurled so we could not get a word from anyone there to ask what is the status of these flitches still on the ground.