2023 Special Reports

Narco Links Suspected as Cattle Ranching Threatens Belize Rainforests

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.

The Venezuelans of Chaguanas

The town of Chaguanas in Central Trinidad has long been a bustling centre for the conduct of business, commerce, sport and leisure. Since achievement of borough status in 1990, It has grown in stature for its contributions to national life and is home to over 84,000 burgesses.

In recent years, Chaguanas has also become home to a high number of Venezuelan migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers who now contribute to the key activities that set Chaguanas apart as a unique place to live, work, and play.

In this series of articles, with support from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, CIJN journalists explore the contributions of this relatively new group of residents in the areas of business and commerce and music and sport. We also examine some of the initial and lingering settlement challenges.

Back to Front: Exploitative International JVs, limited access to financing and gaps in a well-intentioned local content law hinder Guyana’s SME growth potential

To front or not to front? That’s the billion-dollar question facing Guyanese businesses. Eager to tap into the South American country’s booming oil and gas industry, cash-strapped local enterprises  unable to access financing from the banking sector have instead turned to joint ventures partnerships with international companies who use the arrangement as a handy way to conform to the country’s local content laws. Their company had been operating – and successful – for over a decade before Exxon-Mobil discovered Guyana’s first economically viable crude oil deposit in 2015, kicking off the country’s multi-billion-dollar economic boom. The discovery was transformative.