General — 01 December 2015 — by Adele Ramos
Guatemalan man and two minors arrested for illegal farming inside Belize

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Nov. 27, 2015–Illegal farming inside the Chiquibul Forest and particularly along border areas of Western Belize has been a recurring problem and this week, Belizean authorities apprehended an adult and two minors, all of Guatemala, who were allegedly farming inside Belizean territory.

Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) reported that on Monday, November 25, 2015, a joint forces patrol comprised of Belize Defence Force, Police and FCD rangers led to the detention of Jorge Felipe Gudiel Garcia, 27, as well as two minors: 9 and 7 years old, from the village of San Jose Las Flores.

The trio, said the FCD, were found planting black beans inside the Chiquibul Forest at a distance of 1.4 kilometers away from the Belize/Guatemalan border. The man had a mule and a horse.

“Garcia informed authorities that he had planted pumpkin earlier in the cleared area that was approximately 2.5 acres in size, and that he knew of other farmers further north from his location also doing farming,” the FCD said.

The pumpkins are planted for their seeds, which sell for 1,200 quetzales or some Bz $353 for 100 pounds.

As a result, Garcia was charged for illegal entry and cultivating in a protected area, but the two minors were released promptly to Guatemalan authorities, the FCD said.

“With the growing population along the border in Guatemala, the agricultural frontier expansion is prone to continue being a major threat to the stability of the Chiquibul Forest,” the FCD said.

It furthermore reported that, “In May 2013, a total of 3,615 hectares had been destroyed for farming activities; and by October 2015, the figure totals 3,772.5 hectares.”

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