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#443247 - 07/25/12 01:53 PM Guatemala ramps up “saber-rattling” against Belize
Marty Offline

Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, has been quoted in an official OAS press release as saying, in response to the death of Guatemalan farmer, Luis Alberto Martínez Alonzo, on Wednesday that “The death of a person is always reprehensible and I hope that the circumstances in which this occurred are cleared up promptly.”

“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,’” said a stern statement released today by Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA).

According to an official statement from the Belize Ministry of National Security, the incident resulted from an armed confrontation between Belize security forces and illegal loggers from Guatemala. Multiple government sources have told our newspaper that the Guatemalans carried shotguns.

“Something must be done by Guatemala or the international community to help,” said Belize Ambassador to Guatemala, Alfredo “Fred” Martinez, stressing the need for the authorities on the other side of the border to find gainful employment for their people so they do not have to come into Belize to make a living from illegal activities.

The victim and the detainees whom Belize security forces encountered on Wednesday evening, said Martinez, are from the village of El Carrizal, Peten, located about 2 miles from the Belize-Guatemala border.

As our newspaper reported back in December 2009, residents of this same village complained via cell phone to Guatemala congressmen, when Belize had set up a conservation post at Machaquilha, in order to police illegal cutting of xaté and logs, and the poaching of wildlife from inside Belize protected areas.

Last Wednesday’s fatal incident happened, according to the Belize statement, when a BDF patrol was heading towards the said Machaquilha Conservation Post, to which the Guatemalan officials had expressed opposition.

When an El Carrizal villager goes to a restaurant, it’s not their cell phone they put on the table — it’s their gun, the Ambassador had said back in 2009, making the point that men of the village tend to be armed.

The Guatemalan officials had responded to the complaints by El Carrizal villagers, challenging Belize’s installation of the Machaquilha post, by sending a diplomatic note, accusing Belize of militarizing the border and using this strategy to demarcate the border well ahead of any ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

At that time, Ambassador Martinez had warned Belizeans that as the time for court draws near, Belize will continue to see Guatemala challenge the country’s sovereignty in an effort to help its case before the court.

“We will continue to see challenges in writing, because they are trying to document for the court purpose—should we ever reach there—that they did protest our sovereignty. In other words, it’s just like when you have a piece of land, a squatter, you send that person a notice constantly: ‘Hey, come out of my land!’” said Ambassador Alfredo Martinez.

The latest controversy—coming as both countries prepare to hold national referenda to determine if the ICJ is indeed the way to go—is over the killing of a Guatemalan, who Belize government officials said was found well inside Belizean territory, where he and at least two others were engaged in illegal logging—a persistent problem along the border terrain but which has expanded further east of the border.

Meanwhile, a statement released by the Guatemala Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, July 19, 2012, at a press conference held that same evening by vice ministers Rita Claverie and Carlos Raul Morales, very strongly condemned Belize for “attacking and killing Guatemalan peasants”—a charge the ministry made twice in its statement.

The Guatemalan statement does concede, however, that the incident happened beyond “the adjacency line”—which is the term they use for the Belize-Guatemala border, but it goes on to describe the area in question as “under dispute” and “administered by Belize.”

They furthermore say that Belize Defence Force officers should desist from attacking and killing Guatemalan peasants.

The statement goes on to refer to the killing of other Guatemalans, such as Juan Choc Chub, which happened about five months ago, which the Guatemalan government had also strongly condemned.

The Guatemalan statement notes that a meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 30, 2012, at which vice ministers in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries are scheduled to meet at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, DC, at which, the statement said, such incidents will be discussed and a call will be made for Belize to cease its provocations and hostilities against the Guatemalan people.

Belize should be represented by Foreign Affairs CEO, Alexis Rosado, Ambassador Martinez and Ambassador Nestor Mendez, who is based in Washington, DC, while Guatemala should be represented by vice minister Carlos Raul Morales, Guatemala’s ambassador to Belize, Manuel Tellez, and its ambassador based in DC. The OAS Secretary General will also be involved in that meeting.

Speaking with Amandala on the matter on Friday, Belize Ambassador to Guatemala, Alfredo “Fred” Martinez, said that the statement from Guatemala is “nothing we did not expect...” since that country has always held on to the very strong position that Belize overreacts in these encounters with Guatemalans. He did acknowledge that the tone of Guatemala’s statement is “higher” this time around.

“It never comes out as if these people entered Belize. Their attitude is always that the life of a Guatemalan civilian is far more important than whatever that civilian may be doing here.”

Martinez said that he had met with the Guatemalan vice minister, Morales, on Thursday, when the incident was reported to him.

He said that at the upcoming OAS meeting, Belize will underline the need for those on the ground to respect our laws, since not doing so can increase friction between the two countries.

The Ambassador said that the OAS verification of the Chub incident was “not conclusive enough to say who shot first.” The Guatemalans, he said, were informed but they are not satisfied with the OAS report.

“They felt that certain details of investigation were not properly covered,” he added.

According to Martinez, police in Belize were to have done an independent investigation, and that report, said Martinez, will be presented at the upcoming OAS meeting.

The Ambassador confirmed that incidents between Belize and Guatemala that occur beyond the 1-km stretch from the borderline are not normally subject to the OAS verification process, but in this instance, Belize has agreed that the OAS undertakes verification in the interest of transparency, because of the way the Guatemalans reacted and because the incident happened relatively close to the border.

“We don’t want it to appear that we are stonewalling,” he said. “The [Belize] Minister [of Foreign Affairs] took that decision that he wanted the OAS to help us verify and that started this morning.”

Ambassador Martinez said that it is no secret that Belize has always been complaining to the international community about the encroachments by Guatemalans.

He said, “...they are aware we are constantly under siege by these incursions. They know exactly what we have been facing... We have gone to great pains to explain, so that whenever these incidents occur they understand the dynamics of what is happening.”

According to the Ambassador, the OAS was advised immediately on Thursday morning of the incident, and at the same time Guatemala’s ambassador in Belize, Manuel Téllez, had also been advised that there was an incident.

The OAS statement said that since Thursday, when Insulza first learned of the incident, he “has been in contact with the foreign ministers of both countries and their respective ambassadors accredited to the OAS to gather more information and ask for a broad investigation to the satisfaction of both governments.”

The statement goes on to say that, “In these discussions, the Secretary General received the commitment of Belize to conduct a diligent and immediate investigation into the incident, to which they will provide access to the government of Guatemala.”

Amandala


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#443445 - 07/28/12 03:12 AM Re: Guatemala ramps up “saber-rattling” against Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Statement by the Office of the General Secretariat of the OAS in the Belize-Guatemala Adjacency Zone

On July 19, 2012, the Office of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States in the Belize-Guatemala Adjacency Zone (OAS/AZ Office) was notified by Belizean authorities that an incident had taken place in Toledo District involving Belize Defense Force (BDF) soldiers and a group of three Guatemalan citizens, which had resulted in the death of one of the Guatemalan citizens and the arrest of the other two who were charged with illegal entry into the country and illegal logging in a protected national park.

The OAS/AZ Office immediately made arrangements to travel to the site where the incident occurred so as to undertake the pertinent verification and interview all parties involved. Currently, a detailed report with the results of the investigation is being prepared and will be submitted shortly to the governments of Belize and Guatemala, although initial findings confirm that the incident took place more than 3 km from the Adjacency Line outside the Adjacency Zone administered by Belize; that the Guatemalan citizens were felling trees in a protected national park; and that the deceased Guatemalan citizen was carrying two firearms at the time that he was confronted by the BDF.

Although the full investigation has yet to be completed, it is important to note that the Government of Belize has given Guatemalan authorities full access to interview the arrested Guatemalan citizens, as well as to the autopsy of the deceased, during which a Guatemalan forensic doctor was present. Members of the Embassy of Guatemala in Belize were also able to visit the site of the incident.

This incident, together with other priority issues on the bilateral agenda, will be discussed at the high level meeting between Belize and Guatemala at the deputy minister level, which will take place next Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at OAS Headquarters in Washington, DC.

The events of the past week emphasize the urgency of finding a permanent and peaceful solution to the centuries-old territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala and thus the importance of submitting the differendum to the International Court of Justice for final settlement.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

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#443486 - 07/28/12 10:14 PM Re: Guatemala ramps up “saber-rattling” against Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

OAS Comes Correct + How A Guate Was Killed On Sapodilla Hill

Next week, Belize's National Negotiating team goes to the OAS in Washington for a high level meeting with their Guatemalan counterparts under the auspices of the OAS.

A series of recent border incidents have set the stage for what is expected to be a tense, tough meeting. Both major incidents have happened on the Belize side of the border where first, A Guatemalan Luis Alberto Ramirez was shot and killed by a BDF soldier, and second, 20 Guatemalan Gold Panners were found in the southern Chiquibul forest.

The bigger issue is the Ramirez shooting death and today the OAS sent out its fourth press release on the subject in a week - and they finally got it right!

The release says, correctly, that the incident took place in the Toledo District and it resulted in the death of one Guatemalan and the arrest of two others who were charged with illegal entry into the country and illegal logging in a protected national park. Today at a special sitting of the House of Representatives - on a statement of public interest, Foreign Minister Elrington provided an official narrative of the event. It happened eight days ago and it's the first time that such an account has been given of what happened. Three BDF soldiers were on a patrol in the Machaquilha area when they heard Chainsaws. They went to investigate on a place called Sapodilla Hill and here's what happened next:..

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"The officers went to investigate the source of the sound and in doing so they saw someone cleaning a trail from the direction from where the sound was heard. One member of the BDF patrol was posted as sentry in the area of the trail while the other two continued in the direction from which the sound was coming. They climb a nearby hill and on reaching the top of the hil they saw two persons of Hispanic descent. One of them was in possession of a chainsaw and the other was in possession of a machete. One of the BDF soldiers shouted to the two persons and also fired a shot in the air to signal their presence in the area. However the person with the chainsaw did not comply with the warning giving the noise apparently of the chainsaw. The BDF proceeded to conduct a search of the two persons and found a small quantity of marijuana, cigarette, measuring tape, two chainsaws and chainsaw tools. During this time the sentry that stayed behind was heard requesting support announcing in his Maya Mopan language that he was being threaten by an armed person."

"One of the BDF who was with the two detained return to provide support. During his return he was closing of the witness shooting by the BDF sentry officer of a person who was pointing a firearm at the sentry. The approaching seeing the fell person proceeding to disarm the person of a machete and a shotgun and retrieving it he unloaded a live 410 cartridge that was inside the weapon. The vital signs of the persons were inspected at which time he was confirm as appearing dead."

"On 20th July immigration officers charge the two detain persons for the offences of illegal entry and both have remained remanded until 27th August, 2012 as they pleaded not guilty to the charge. Forestry officers are yet to levy charge on both detainees for the use of illegal logging for the offence of illegal logging. On 21st July police Scenes of Crimes, a representative of the OAS, representative of the Guatemalan Embassy and BDF personnel visited the area of Sapodilla Hill where the shooting incident occurred to process and reconstruct the scene. Copies of the statement from both the Guatemalan nationals and BDF soldiers and other supporting documents were handed over to the department of public persecutions for initial review and advice. We are advice that the case file has now been reviewed and the investigating officer has given additional task to complete before submitting the case file to the office of the director of public persecutions for final review and advice."

According to Elrington, Guatemalans Jose Antonio Sosa, 60 and Jorge Mondray Ramos, 33 are pending charged for illegal logging. The OAS says that quote, "a detailed report with the results of the investigation is being prepared and will be submitted shortly to the governments of Belize and Guatemala, although initial findings confirm that the incident took place more than 3 km from the Adjacency Line outside the Adjacency Zone administered by Belize; that the Guatemalan citizens were felling trees in a protected national park; and that the deceased Guatemalan citizen was carrying two firearms at the time that he was confronted by the BDF." End quote.

They also note that during the autopsy of the deceased, a Guatemalan forensic doctor was present.

Channel 7


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