Another incursion, another Guatemalan killed in Chiquibul Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00

The Belize/Guatemala relations is once again being tested following the death of another Guatemalan man who was killed by Belizean Law enforcement personnel on Saturday, March 29. It happened inside the Chiquibul National Forest Reserve on the Belizean side of the border, and according to the BDF officers, the man fired at them first.

At around 4 on Saturday afternoon, the BDF and police officers were on patrol along with FCD rangers. They were about 4 miles north of Rio Blanco, and 2 miles within Belizean territory when they found a clearing. As they moved in to investigate they found 2 huts along with food as well as some 50 marijuana plants and seeds. The lawmen quickly assumed that they had come up on an illegal operation and took precautionary measures while they investigated the find. They would soon come up on two armed men who were ordered to put down their weapons. Instead of complying the men opened fire on the officers forcing them to return fire.

In the aftermath of the gunfight 26 year-old Tomas Desdicho Ramirez, a resident of the village of San Marcos in Peten, Guatemala was fatally injured. When that happened, the other man ran off, and shortly after, the Belizean law enforcement team recovered a 12-gauge pump action shotgun from the deceased. In the near vicinity, they found a live 12 gauge cartridge and 5 expended 12 gage shotgun cartridges.

After securing the area, the Belizean lawmen destroyed the marijuana plantation and trasported Ramirez to the San Ignacio Town Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. All the members of the patrol have since given separate statements to account for what occurred on that day and they have all had concurring stories.

 CEO George Lovell in the Ministry of National Security had to be the one with the unsavory duty to inform his Guatemalan counterparts in Guatemala City. He and a Belizean delegation were there for a joint commission meeting between both countries when he was informed of the news of the armed conflict. Reports say that when he announced it to the Guatemalan delegation at a cocktail reception, there was immediate tension. It is believed that because it was due to the in-person delivery that the tension dissipated, and the joint commission meeting was postponed. Instead, both sides agreed to work together to put together a joint statement for the Guatemalan press. It then grew to a joint statement from both Governments with Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina communicating with each other and giving input, which is a first in memory.

 The joint statement issued said, “The Prime Minister assured the President that his government will investigate the facts relating to the incident, and should it be found that there is culpability by persons involved they will be brought to justice in accordance with the law…”

It continues, “Both leaders committed to making extra efforts to coordinate actions in order to avoid incidents of this type in the future which may lead to fatalities."

 And in a spirit of transparency, the OAS has been called in along with the Guatemalan Authorities to oversee the investigation, the Autopsy of Ramirez, and to visit the scene where the shootout happened.

 Another notable input from both leaders on the joint statement reads, “The Prime Minister of Belize and the President of Guatemala reiterated their commitment to the maintenance of peace and the promotion of friendly relations between both peoples and rejected any form of use of force to resolve any differences between the two countries."