FCD/BDF Will Arrest Gold Panners


All this week, we’ve been telling you about the 20 Guatemalans found panning for gold in the Chiquibul.

It’s a serious, organized incursion and the Friends for Conservation and development which co-manages the national park estimates that there could be as many as 300 Guatemalans looking for gold along the Ceibo Chico Creek.

Representatives of FCD came to Belize today for the monthly meeting of enforcement agencies at the BDF Headquarters. Rafael Manzanero tells us the decision has been taken to start rounding up the gold-panners and charging them for illegal entry. He says it’s the next phase of operations:..

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director – FCD
“It has already spiral, we have already pass through that already. We know that the word out there in Guatemala is that there is gold in the Chiquibul, so once that becomes widespread is already the condition then we should be prepared really of ensuring that there can be a rigorous and a bold movement in terms of containing it. So now the next stage is now that people encountered will subsequently be taken out from there in being detained and hopefully to be charged successfully.”

Jules Vasquez
“Is that practical? We know that place is in one of the remotest regions of the country. You would have to take them back to San Ignacio to be charged?”

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director – FCD
“Yes the closest station is San Ignacio Town.”

Jules Vasquez
“That’s almost 2 days away.”

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director – FCD
“Exactly that’s correct. In terms of ensuring that we get all the evidence and bringing the persons – that is assuming that nothing really happens in terms of break-in of machines of whatsoever. We have to make that as a part of a contingency plan of course.”

Jules Vasquez
“Will you all be given additional military personnel in order to accomplish this?”

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director – FCD
“From what it look like it is pretty much as a tight program. I cannot really if it would be able to build up a bigger set of people down there. I think what we will have to do is to look at what we have on the ground and try to strategize and see how we can build from that given what we have at the moment.”

Jules Vasquez
“The gold panners from what we’ve seen, it seems that these are extremely poor people. Are you concern that eventually weapons may start to be involved?”

Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director – FCD
“We cannot really dispel the idea that there are no firearms at the moment. Knowing the modus operandi of people in that zone – we are extremely cautious that of course it can lead to confrontation. Even though in the videos it might be seen as people which might be in-offensive but in reality we have to be all cautious about a given level of higher conflict that can occur.”

Getting to Ceibo Chico is a full day’s hike for persons experienced in the bush. The work to start rounding up and charging persons will start imminently.

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