WORLD NEWS

Cuba: Tough prison terms for mahogany tree thefts

Jan 27, 2012, 10:32 PM

Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) – Cuba convicted six people of cutting down African mahogany trees in the National Botanical Gardens and sentenced them to eight and 10 years in prison, the Communist Party newspaper Granma said Friday.

The men felled nine trees on two occasions in December and harvested a total of $122 worth of wood, according to the court sentencing printed alongside the article. Mahogany sells for considerably more than that elsewhere, listing for $10 to $15 per board-foot on some U.S. websites.

Angela Leiva, director of the reserve, told Granma that the 30- to 40-year-old trees were important to the ecology of the gardens and their loss cannot be repaired in the short or medium term.

Inaugurated by Fidel Castro in 1989 and located just south of the capital, the 1,500-acre (600-hectare) Botanical Gardens fell on hard times after Cuba’s 1990s economic crisis precipitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the island’s largest trade partner and benefactor.

The reserve’s facilities fell into disrepair, vigilance became lax and the entire 7-mile (11.5-kilometer) perimeter fence was scavenged amid “social indiscipline,” Granma said.

The government has been waging a campaign against lawbreaking and “social indiscipline,” with official newspapers such as Granma carrying reminders of stiff penalties for everything from the unauthorized slaughter of cattle to illegally building home expansions onto sidewalks.

Authorities began to notice trees sporadically disappearing from the reserve in 2008, according to Granma’s full-page article. The thefts increased over the next two years and reserve officials complained to authorities.

“Regrettably, misunderstanding prevailed in the face of these claims and no preventative measure or action was taken to avoid a repeat of such events,” the story said.

The tough sentences announced Friday send a stern warning that illegal cutting in the reserve will no longer go unpunished.

The court said it took into account aggravating factors, such as conspiracy by three or more people and the commission of a crime at night or in an unpopulated area, in condemning two men to a decade behind bars and the rest to eight years.

It said the six acted with others who have not been identified to transport, process and sell the lumber.

Granma said a new fence made of wood and bars is being constructed around the Botanical Gardens, and authorities are adding vehicles and communications equipment to bolster the night guard. A plan to erect five observation towers has also been approved.

Cuba has scarce supplies of wood for uses from carpentry to home construction, and illegal scavenging for materials to sell on the black market is common.

The economy has recovered somewhat since the 1990s but is still struggling. Authorities regularly blame shortages on the United States’ nearly 50-year-old trade and travel embargo against the island.

___

Peter Orsi on Twitter at
http://www.twitter.com/Peter(underscore)Orsi

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who reportedly died in prison on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, i...

Associated Press

Alexei Navalny, galvanizing opposition leader and Putin’s fiercest foe, died in prison, Russia says

Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died Friday while incarcerated, the country's prison agency said.

15 days ago

Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla leave The London Clinic in central London, Monday, Jan...

Associated Press

Britain’s King Charles III has cancer and is receiving treatment

Britain's King Charles III has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and has begun treatment, Buckingham Palace announced Monday.

26 days ago

A resident flees an encroaching forest fire in Vina del Mar, Chile, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. Officia...

Associated Press

At least 46 reported dead in Chile as forest fires move into densely populated central areas

Intense forest fires burning around a densely populated area of central Chile have caused at least 46 deaths, Chile's pesident said Saturday.

27 days ago

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with a payload including two lunar rovers from Japan and the United Arab ...

Associated Press

Unmanned Japanese spacecraft successfully makes soft landing on moon

Japan became the fifth country in history to reach the moon when one of its unmanned spacecrafts successfully landed on the lunar surface.

1 month ago

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

3 months ago

Palestinians leave their homes following Israeli bombardment on Gaza City, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (...

Associated Press

Israeli airstrikes crush apartments in Gaza refugee camp, as ground troops battle Hamas militants

A flurry of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday on a refugee camp near Gaza City leveled apartment buildings, leaving craters where they once stood.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Cuba: Tough prison terms for mahogany tree thefts