The Anonymous Widower

The Enforcer From The World Bank

Thirty or so years ago, I was going to San Jose from San Francisco airport in a limo.  There were four of us sharing and one was one of the most dodgy guys I’d seen in some time.  He was tall, fit, tanned and about sixty, with a long grey pony-tail, wearing cowboy boots, immaculate blue jeans and a black shirt.  His only luggage was a battered brown leather hold-all. He looked just like a Columbian drug baron straight out of Central Casting. But from his accent, we could tell he was an American.

One of the guys politely asked him what he did.  It turned out he’d been a US Army Colonel and he’d been recruited by the World Bank to look after  projects in the rain forest. He was absolutely fascinating as he told about his work.  He said that if you slash and burn the rainforest, you make just a few thousand dollars an acre, but if you harvest it selectively using the local Indians, you make many times more.  He told how trees would be left until maturity and how many of the plants were collected for pharmaceuticals, leaving enough behind to collect in following years.

But he said to do this properly you needed to make tracks, which of course allowed the slash and burn merchants access to the jungle.

He also said that a lot of the problems were down to money lenders and corrupt operators, who drive the eco-system for their own selfish ends.

It was an amazing education in a limousine.



February 14, 2013 - Posted by | Finance, Transport/Travel | ,


  1. Fascinating post about wheels within wheels. What a pity that the rain forests are the gifts that keep giving for all the wrong reasons…

    Comment by Janice Mermikli | February 14, 2013 | Reply

    • They were trying to get it sustainable, as it created an income for the people of the forest and a never ending supply of hardwood trees and raw material for pharmaceutical drugs. It was a bit like coppicing in an English woodland.

      Comment by AnonW | February 14, 2013 | Reply

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