It has come to the attention of the San Pedro Town Council that allegations were made against the council, the Mayor of San Pedro Town, Mr. Daniel Guerrero, the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Hon Manuel Heredia Jr. and other authorities on Ambergris Caye. These allegations are related to the death and the immediate burial of Honduran national Silvia Benitez earlier in January. The misinformation was stated first at a forum held on January 29th, 2015 at the Lion’s Den and then on The Reef Radio Morning Show by Her Excellency Sandra Rosalez Abella, Ambassador of the Republic of Honduras. On both occasions, Ambassador Abella was flanked by the People’s United Party Mayoral Candidate Giovanni Solorzano and other key members of the PUP.
The Ambassador expressed that the SPTC and Mayor Guerrero, following the discovery of the decomposed body of Benitez, rendered no support to have the body decently buried. In addition, the diplomat stated that the SPTC and the Mayor allowed for the immediate burial of Benitez without notifying the Honduran Embassy. She further explained, that the Mayor of San Pedro Town refused to meet with her to facilitate the exhumation of Benitez for a proper burial. Given the circumstances, the SPTC would like to take this opportunity to clarify some misinformation, misleading and false statements made on both forums.
First, The SPTC would like to state that throughout the entire process on the day that Benitez was discovered, all help was rendered to the relevant authorities upon their request. The SPTC is not the maximum authority in these circumstances and as such, its involvement was limited, as is the case with any murder investigation. Any murder investigation is carried out strictly by the Police and other relevant authorities. However, the SPTC assisted upon the request of the Belizean authorities. While it is not morally right to disclose the level of help rendered, under these circumstances and given the statements made by the Ambassador, the council would like to inform that all machinery and equipments of the council was placed at the disposal of the police and forensic doctors. In addition, the SPTC paid in full for all food and accommodation of the forensic team and that of the Crime Scenes personnel brought in from Belize City, to ensure that Benitez body was treated with respect. We also indicated that the SPTC stood ready to assist in whichever way our resources could allow.
Secondly, The SPTC would like to state that while we were ready to assist in the case of Benitez, the rightful authorities that were in charge were the Forensic Department and the Belize Police Department. In addition, there are established diplomatic protocols that are in place between the Government of Belize and the Republic of Honduras, as to how communication is to officially be passed on. The SPTC has no authority and cannot act outside of these established diplomatic protocols. It was the duty of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belize to have communicated the circumstances surrounding the Benitez case to the Honduran Government. Her Excellency Abella, as a career diplomat, knows these procedures all too well.