Discovery of oil in Belize leads to craziness all around

A few years ago, a Mennonite farmer in Belize dug a well looking for water and found something else entirely: Black gold. Texas tea. Oil, that is, in a country where it had never before been discovered. This brought on a private firm, which hit the jackpot: three wells of petroleum so sweet and light that tractors could run on the unprocessed crude. The government’s share from production of 60,000 barrels a day could cover the debt-strapped country’s national budget. How much oil is in them thar hills? Nobody knows yet, but greens are disconcerted by the economy’s turn from eco-tourism to petro-biz. They fear spills and land degradation. Meanwhile, the 1,700-strong Mennonite community, which owns the oil-rich land, fears its way of life may be disrupted — you think? — and has hired as an adviser an American who once served time in the slammer for bankruptcy fraud. Let the downward spiral begin.