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Over 800 sign petition against new Columbia and Bladen Forest Reserve dam

LettersOver 800 sign petition against new Columbia and Bladen Forest Reserve dam
November 9, 2009
Dear Editor,
We are trying our best to fight these developers, who have already gotten 250 acres of our land and want 250 acres more — in our watershed!
My name is Lisa White Kile and I am a teacher at Toledo Community College. I would really appreciate your publishing my second article. It was so wonderful the impetus the first article gave to our struggle. All of a sudden people learned about it and got interested.
I also have a petition I would like to share with the press. At the moment we have over 800 signatures.  First day off work I get I will take the original petition to Belmopan. Here it is.
To: Honorable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize
CC: Honorable Gaspar Vega, Minister of Natural Resources
CC: Department of the Environment
CC: Forestry Department
We, the undersigned, do not support the proposed hydroelectric dam to be located near Little Quartz Ridge in the Columbia and Bladen Forest Reserves.  This project does nothing to benefit the people. The proposed dam would block the source of the water that feeds our Columbia and San Miguel Rivers.  We the people have the right to enjoy the rivers that pass through our villages. We use the Columbia River for washing, bathing, and transportation.  Some of us get our drinking water from the river. The project could dry up our river or muddy it, as the existing Hydro Maya dam muddied the San Miguel River.  We do not want another dam to muddy up the Columbia River.  Dammed-up rivers are a threat to public health because bathers suffer skin sores and water borne disease.
We do not want our Columbia Forest Reserve and Bladen Reserve to become someone’s private property.  The land that Hydro Maya is on used to be for the people, but now it is marked “Private property. No trespassing.”
We have the right to protect our Reserves, and we have the right to protect our rivers.  We ask the Department of Environment and Forestry to please not give these people any permit to build this wasteful and destructive project, and please do not give them or sell them any land that belongs to the Belizean people.  We have “black out” all the time in Toledo, and our light bills are very expensive. The Hydro Maya dam in San Miguel has not benefited us.
The only permit that the Hydro Maya people got was permission to explore the Reserve.  They went into the Reserve and bulldozed roads, ran over Maya ruins, cut trees, and built camps. If we the people want to cut even one tree in the Reserve, we need to get permission from Forestry, but they bulldozed the Reserve for almost two months.  We think they should be charged for environmental damage.
Lisa White Kile
(Ed. NOTE: The article referred to above was published in Amandala #2377, dated November 8, 2009, on page 8 under the title, “Forestry Department ‘playing games’ with Toledo villagers?”)

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