Belizean and Guatemalan conservation groups team up

Friends for Conservation and Development, F.C.D,  has teamed up with Guatemalan conservation group BALAM to fight for the conservation of the  Chiquibul Forest against encroachers and poachers.  The Chiquibul reserve landscape goes beyond the Belize border into Guatemala and is now being used more frequently for organized crime.  BALAM representative spoke about some of the  highest threats faced

Brian Castellanos, BALAM Executive Director;

The main causes that promote the flux of People coming into Belize are Organized Crimes and Poverty also, These Organized crimes finance these poor communities for them to trespass into Belize Territory to extract the Natural Resources. F.C.D and BALAM join efforts to face that situation.

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director of F.C.D Manzanero says the collaborative work between FCD and Balam and the agreements made in order to provide conservation and protection to the Chiquibul reserve are very much welcomed since the conservation efforts have been an uphill battle for FCD. 

Rafael Manzanero, FCD Executive Director;vlcsnap-2016-07-15-16h04m14s239

You were correct in terms of the uphill and the struggles that we have had and it is really much to our interest actually to see how in a couple of years BALAM has been able to mobilize a lot of other counterparts and support system in the southern parts of Peten. At this point in time in Belize, you know for us we felt that either we have to learn more about how they do there Policy Advocacy for one or either we are still not reaching the right people on how to make the particular changes. I have been trying over the years to gather people to go and see the true reality of the Chiquibul, and that hasn’t happen much admittedly in fact the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala has been twice into Chiquibul and frankly we haven’t had or it has been a limited person of high level personnel that have reached the Chiquibul from the Belizean side so I think that there is much more to be done.

BALAM usually works more on the northern part of the reserve but has made the effort to work more on the southern part of Petén which is technically ground zero for incursions into Belize.  He says it is necessary for both countries to crack down on illegal activities.

Brian Castellanos, BALAM Executive Director;

Once both countries and pay attention to this, both Guatemala and Belize apply the law without any privilege we will be able to solve these issues. We need institutions from both Governments to work together. It is not possible that the truck that illegally traffics logwood enters Belize so easily, and those agents who are pursuing the login Guatemala cannot enter. We are promoting that the General Attorney of the Public Ministry communicate with the General Attorney in Belize, coordinate, share information, investigations, and verify on what to do when criminals from Guatemala enter in Belize easily, and criminals in Belize enter Guatemala easily.

The agreement between FCD and BALAM basically have two main objectives; to combine efforts to contain ecosystem of the reserve and to reduce conflicts between the communities located in the adjacency zone. Both associations signed the agreement which runs from 2016-2021.

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