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#442985 - 07/21/12 08:07 AM OAS Calls BDF Shooting "Reprehensible"
Marty Offline

Belize Objects To Language

Tensions are high between Belize and Guatemala tonight and a troubling statement from the OAS isn't making things any better. As we reported last night - a BDF patrol encountered Guatemalan loggers inside the Colombia Forest Reserve at a position two miles within Belize.

There was a confrontation, which resulted in the BDF shooting and killing Luis Alberto Martinez and detaining his two partners Jose Antonio Sosa and Hugo Monroy Ramos.

It is being investigated by the Belize Police department and the OAS - but this afternoon, the OAS issued a statement leading us to question their impartiality in the matter.

The statement says - and we quote:

"The Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, expressed his regret at the death of a Guatemalan tenant farmer in the adjacency zone between Guatemala and Belize.

It quotes him as saying, 'The death of a person in a shootout is always reprehensible and I hope that the circumstances in which this occurred are cleared up promptly."

Now, the adjacency zone is one kilometer on each side of the border; this incident happened 3 kilometers within Belize - that is not in the adjacency zone.

Belize's Ambassador to Guatemala Fred Martinez said that the OAS statement is wrong and they are seeking a correction. We spoke to him via phone from Guatemala City:...

H.E. Fred Martinez, Ambassador to Guatemala
"This incident did not occur within the adjacency zone, but occurred 3.2 kilometers from the borderline. So definitely we have requested the OAS office to do the changes."

Jules Vasquez
"How could the OAS have made such a significant error in such a sensitive subject? While I am certain everyone regrets what occurred. It is what it is; you cannot make it into an adjacency zone incident when it happens 2 miles within Belizean territory."

H.E. Fred Martinez, Ambassador to Guatemala
"It depends who wrote the press release. I am not privy to that information. I do know the secretary general is personally not in Washington, so somebody's press office must have written it."

Jules Vasquez
"While you say the secretary general isn't there, accepted, but it quotes the secretary general as saying that "the death of a person in a shootout is always reprehensible." It seems to show a deliberate favoritism on the part of the Guatemalans."

H.E. Fred Martinez
"Jules, I would go so far as that, I beg to differ, I think that the context of the quotation of the secretary general must be taken into account; he is saying that the death of any person in any case is reprehensible. I do not want to interpret that the secretary general is saying in this particular incident that that was so."

"As I repeat Jules, I think that that was written facily by somebody in their press office, which is totally unacceptable and therefore our ambassador in Washington has been given instructions to ensure that that is change."

Jules Vasquez
"Words have meaning Ambassador, the language quoted to the secretary general is reprehensible. Reprehensible means deserving condemnation. Again, if there is an arm engagement between outlaws and the arm forces of a sovereign nation and it results in a fatality, that is regrettable but it is not reprehensible in so far as deserving condemnation."

H.E. Fred Martinez
"I certainly agree with you and therefore I do mention that I do not like his choice of words but at the same time I take it into the context that he was making reference to any death where at shootout occurs - not even privy to what he may have said, maybe he said it in Spanish and not in English, so we are trying to ascertain where that press release was drafted and who did it."

Up to newstime there was no correction forthcoming form the OAs which is known to send press releases at all hours.

But while the OAS is in the wrong page completely, oddly enough, this time the Guatemalan press and that country's ministry of foreign Affairs have it right.

Today's Prensa Libre quotes their Ministry of Foreign Affairs as calling the incident "unfortunate" and saying that the incident happened three miles within Belizean territory.

Martinez told us that is encouraging but it doesn't necessarily make a difficult situation any easier:...

H.E. Fred Martinez
"It is important, in the sense that in the past they've always insisted that it occurred within some municipality of Guatemala, even though it occurred well within Belize and here is a clear indication from the foreign ministry that it occurred within Belize and 3.2 kilometers inside of Belize. I don't think it's going to be any easier - whenever there is a death and therefore the government authorities would have to investigate under what circumstances they occurred."

"Tensions obviously are aggravated, but the investigation would have to occur, whether the incidents had occurred in the adjacency zone or very well within Belize. As long as there is a death of another citizen of a foreign country, that country would require that in our case Belize investigate the incident fully."

"To begin with we are starting off on the right foot in the investigation of this incident when we don't have to be fighting on the point that it occurred within Belize and not in Guatemala. At least we are one step ahead in that."

Jules Vasquez
"What's happening at the official level? I understand that multiple teams are going to visit the site."

H.E. Fred Martinez
"Belize has requested from the OAS to help us verify the incident even though it occurred outside of the one kilometer adjacency zone. The Government of Belize accepted that we should require the OAS to help us verify the incident so that it can be satisfactorily investigated totally."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you apprehensive about the days ahead knowing that the state of incursions have become more serious and the flare-ups with subsequently be more serious as well?"

H.E. Fred Martinez
"Well most certainly we are concerned because one; of the damage being done to our environment and two; about the increase number of incidents that will begin to occur. The more incursions you have and the more patrols you put in therefore the greater frequency of these encounters."

There is no word yet on what charges if any will be brought against Jose Antonio Sosa and Hugo Monroy Ramos - the two men who were along with the deceased Luis Alberto Matinez.

The Prensa Libre reports that they are from El Carizzal in Poptun.

Channel 7

#443151 - 07/24/12 07:28 AM Re: OAS Calls BDF Shooting "Reprehensible" [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 23, 2012

Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) notes with exceeding concern the statement allegedly released by the press office of the Organization of American States (OAS) this past Friday, July 20, as read on Channel 7 News that evening, which quotes its Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, as expressing his regret at the death of a Guatemalan tenant farmer in the “adjacency zone” between Guatemala and Belize.

According to Mr. Insulza, “The death of a person in a shootout is always reprehensible…”

We at COLA consider it even more reprehensible that an international organization as well-established as the OAS, which purports to be the chief mediating organ between Belize and Guatemala, can get so completely wrong the difference between the established border between these nations and their artificially established “adjacency zone.”

We note that as reported by Channel 7, the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the newspaper Prensa Libre, the far right-wing organ that has indefatigably been reporting on alleged confrontations between Belizean security forces and Guatemalan nationals, have both acknowledged that the incident occurred well inside Belizean territory, and that according to our Guatemalan ambassador a correction is being sought, but sadly, none has been forthcoming.

In light of this egregious error on the part of the OAS, COLA renews the demand for that organization to not only retract this statement, but also to make absolutely clear that it was wrong and issue a clear and unambiguous clarification.

Failure to do this will be seen as evidence of obvious partiality to the Guatemalans, a state of affairs that we cannot and will not countenance.

How can we lend our support for the OAS’ chosen solution to ending the unfounded claim by our western neighbors to our territory – taking the matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague – when the OAS is apparently unable to remain an honest broker and an impartial observer of the road to the October, 2013 referenda in both our territories?

Bearing in mind that we stand 100% behind our security forces, COLA also calls on the Government of Belize and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take all necessary steps and measures to unequivocally secure the interests of the Belizean people along our border with Guatemala.



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