The Guatemalan cattle were back. Dozens of them grazed in the clearing around Valentin Camp, a Belize Defence Force observation post located deep in the protected Chiquibul Forest near Belize’s disputed western border with Guatemala. The presence of the cattle meant that the Guatemalan villagers who raise them were not far away. Rafael Manzanero, who was leading a day-long visit to the area, was not pleased.
As executive director of the non-profit organisation Friends for Conservation and Development, his work includes managing a small team that monitors and protects much of the 176,000-hectare forest in Belize. “We basically have noted and outlined cattle ranching as being the primary challenge that we face in the Chiquibul today,” Manzanero told the Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network.