GGMC’s capacity for enforcement is woefully limited

Dear Editor,
Brazil has been deploying the latest satellite imaging technology for some years now to protect the country’s pristine rainforest.  But their commendable efforts seem to be coming under strain from the unrelenting onslaught of illegal mining and forest destruction in the Amazon. The threat appears to be coming from small-scale deforestation which does not show up in the imagery. This should also be of concern to Guyana.

Imazon, the research institute that tracks deforestation in Brazil said in their recent report that, “destruction in the world’s largest rainforest climbed for the fourth consecutive month in December. In the last five months of 2012, Imazon detected clearings of 497 square miles (1,288 square km) of woodland – a Los Angeles-size total that is more than twice as big as the combined areas detected in the last five months of 2011“ (SN, Jan 24).

Brazil has a policy of ‘seek and destroy‘ where mining camps are concerned whenever and wherever they are found in protected areas, and of confiscating equipment, unlike the clueless GGMC in Guyana. The GGMC‘s capacity for enforcement seems woefully limited to ‘cease-work orders’. Such orders were recently issued when Brazilian dredges were discovered operating illegally in Itaballi near the Essequibo River (SN, Jan 21). Their dredges were allowed to remain in situ until the illegal miners could show they could get work permits. This allows them to bide their time and wait for corrupt practices to kick in, as well as circumvent any protection against deforestation, illegal mining and environmental degradation.

Despite the indiscriminate waste of public money of sending a team to Curaçao, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and the GGMC are still “unable to shed any light on the Curacao heist gold“ (SN, Jan 25). It is obvious that bandits are far more competent than the ministry in seeking out and tracking movements of illegal gold shipments.

Furthermore, the long, porous border with Brazil is a welcome invitation to any and all illegal miners, especially those displaced from Brazil. This open-door policy means holding Guyana’s taxpayers to ransom, while nationals from as far as China, are able to get a foothold in the country to exploit its natural wealth with a vengeance. The Amerindian communities are now being forced to pay the heavy price. Lawsuits are being pursued so that mining can continue in their lands.

It is a known fact that vast amounts of gold revenues are being siphoned off and smuggled abroad, while taxpayers suffer and bear the heavy burden.
Yours faithfully,
Mac Mahase

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