SPAIN’S tax agency has proposed a €20,700 fine against a Cadiz environmentalist for trying to return smuggled turtles back to Morocco.
Clavero is the head of a project of Ecologistas en Acción which aims to return a group of Moorish black turtles (Testudo graeca) illegally brought into Spain from Morocco, for which the Ecologistas has responded saying the sanction is “inexplicable, arbitrary and unfair”.
Furthermore, according to a statement from Ecologistas in Accen, this sanction has been added to another of 1,600 euros recently notified to another member of Ecologistas en Acción, Antonio Acosta, who is participating in this same project.
Ecologistas en Acción has explained that they took care of several Moorish turtles that were given to them by people years ago who had illegally brought them from Morocco. Thus, they had 23 Moorish black turtles in custody in El Puerto de Santa María and another two in El Bosque.
According to the Ecologists, they have spend the last two years in “tedious negotiations, overcoming all kinds of bureaucratic obstacles,“ They had obtained the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, and the High Commission for Water, Forests and the Fight against Desertification of the Kingdom of Morocco to initiate the return of the species with only one remaining certificate needed. The Cites certificate, which authorises the transfer of protected species from one country to another, and which is issued by the Official Service for Inspection, Surveillance and Regulation of Foreign Trade (Soivre).
When putting in motion the requested Cites certificate, the environmentalists were asked to facilitate the location of the two groups of turtles for inspection, as well as the identity of their caretakers, which they did. The species were counted and photographed by Seprona, as the Ecologists have informed.
As Euro Weekly News undertands, the Cites was the last certificate needed to return the species to their natural habitat. However, after years of extensive work and enduring the bureaucratic nightmare needed to obtain all the necessary paperwork, the case was turned around and seemingly the Provincial Directorate of Commerce provided the information to the Tax Office as evidence of fraud instead.
It seems El Soivre sent the information about the turtles to the Tax Office, but ignored the documentation about the project to return them to Morocco and all the corresponding authorisations of the Andalusian Government and the Moroccan government already obtained.
The shocked environmentalists have said in a statement: “It’s obviously a misunderstanding, neither Juan Clavero nor Antonio Acosta have brought any turtles smuggled from Morocco, nor have they commercialised them, they are just volunteers from an environmental association with a long history and solvency that has organised a pioneering project in Andalusia to return specimens of black turtles taken illegally from their natural habitat”.
Ecologistas in Accen Extremadura have tweeted the farcical hiccup:
It must be that in #Cádiz there are no major smuggling problems enabling to spend time and officials to pursue two “dangerous” @ecologists Juan Clavero and Antonio Acosta, who intend is only to return a protected species to its country of origin.
Debe ser que en #Cádiz no hay mayores problemas de contrabando para dedicar tiempo y funcionarios a perseguir a dos "peligrosos" @ecologistas, Juan Clavero y Antonio Acosta, que pretenden devolver una especie protegida a su país de origen. https://t.co/sTVpb1ZtA4 pic.twitter.com/mzzv9sH7d3
— EeAExtremadura (@EeAExtremadura) January 8, 2020