CONSERVING LA MOSQUITIA
(Senate - March 17, 2015)

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[Page S1582]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                        CONSERVING LA MOSQUITIA

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I want to briefly draw the Senate's 
attention to a recent announcement made by Honduran President Juan 
Orlando Hernaandez concerning his government's efforts to secure and 
preserve a newly discovered archaeological site in the eastern part of 
his country. The area is part of La Mosquitia, a large swath of 
tropical rain forest along the Mosquito Coast in eastern Honduras, 
which also extends into northeastern Nicaragua.
  Reaching the remote forest is accomplished primarily by air or water, 
and it was airborne sensing technology in 2012 that first uncovered the 
ancient site, now revealed to be as much as 1,000 years old. The site 
is believed by some to be the location of the mythic White City, a safe 
haven where indigenous populations took refuge from Spanish 
conquistadores. However, archeologists Christopher Fisher of Colorado 
State University and Oscar Neil Cruz of the Honduran Institute of 
Anthropology and History and ethno-botanist Mark Plotkin of the Amazon 
Conservation Team who reached the site earlier this month believe the 
discovery could be even more significant as just one of many sites that 
may reveal an entire lost civilization.
  La Mosquitia is also the home of the Riio Plaatano Biosphere Reserve, 
a World Heritage Site that has twice been placed on UNESCO's world 
heritage in danger list, most recently in 2011. The designation was the 
result of an investigation that revealed rampant deforestation, 
primarily by cattle herders seeking to meet the demand for beef in the 
United States, in addition to illegal hunting and fishing. Perhaps one 
of the most significant aspects of the Riio Plaatano Biosphere 
Reserve's designation is that it is representative of the threats to 
all of La Mosquitia.
  That is why President Hernaandez's announcement is so important. La 
Mosquitia is not just a treasure of the Honduran people; it has 
preserved centuries of cultural artifacts and is now home to a 
multitude of plant and animal life that has remained largely 
undisturbed by the outside world.
  President Hernaandez's commitment to preserve these archeological 
sites from looters and other criminal activity and to protect the 
broader forest area by replanting the jungle and countering 
deforestation deserves our support. I look forward to working with the 
Government of Honduras on how the United States may be able to assist 
its conservation efforts.

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