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Santa Cruz Villagers Succeed in Cancellation of Forest Permit

Gary Seawell has been issued a cease and desist letter. Seawell had obtained a forest permit to fell, cut and remove timber from approximately two thousand acres of private land situated at the Dolores Estate in Santa Cruz Village, Stann Creek. But to access the land, Seawell was passing through Crique Sarco Village and villagers there were concerned that their rights and the CCJ Consent Order were being ignored. After their concerns hit the airwaves, officials reacted with the cease and desist letter. Senior reporter, Hipolito Novelo explains.

After Love News aired the concerns of Crique Sarco Villagers on Friday, June four, three days after on Monday June seven, Gary Gordon Seawell was sent this cease and desist letter. The letter comes from Chief Forest Officer, Wilbur Sabido and in the letter, Sabido writes “this serves to inform that the Forest Department is imposing a cease and desist order on any and all operations Private Forest License issued under your name within the Dolores Estate located in the Toledo District.” The letter cites concern and tells Seawell the Forest Department is in consultation to determine how it may proceed in compliance with the CCJ Consent Order.  

Jose Cuc, Chairperson, Crique Sarco Village: “The consent order of April 22, 2015 Order 4 states “The court accepts the undertaking of the government that until such time as measures in paragraph II are achieved it shall cease and abstain from any acts whether by the agents of the government, itself or third party acting with leave, tolerance that might adversely affect the vale, use or enjoyment of the lands that are used and occupied by the Maya villages, unless such acts are preceded by consultation with the min order to obtain their informed consent, and are in conformity with their hereby recognized property rights and the safeguards of the Belize Constitution.”

Applauding Sabido’s cease and desist letter is SATIIM, the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management. SATIIM says that The Free, Prior and Informed Consent process was not adhered to and irregularities were observed in the forest permit. Reporting for Love News, I am Hipolito Novelo.