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Belize Security Forces Kill Guatemalan #429295
02/02/12 08:11 AM
02/02/12 08:11 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,387
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

MFA Says He Was In Belize

There's been another flare-up along the western border with Guatemala, and this time it's proved deadly! And it happened only days after that country's Foreign Minister and Defense Chief visited the adjacency zone in Peten, to assess the needs of residents living in that volatile border region.

An exchange of deadly gunfire last Saturday, January 28th. between Belize Security Forces and suspected Guatemalan poachers is said to have left at least one Guatemalan dead and another injured. The Guatemalan newspaper, Siglo Veinte Uno in an article published today, reports that as a result of the incident, 29 year old Guatemalan national Juan Choc Chub is dead, and his brother Daniel was seriously injured. The report claims that the deadly incident took place in the village of Mount Olives located in the Dolores, Peten area of Guatemala.

The latest confrontation along the sensitive border has triggered a statement of condemnation from Guatemala's Foreign Ministry, and a personal call from that country's newly elected President Otto Perez Molina for a thorough investigation by the Belize Government into the incident.

Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexis Rosado confirms the incident took place, but says it happened squarely within Belize sovereign territory, not within the adjacency zone as is being reported by the Guatemalan press.

Alexis Rosado - CEO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belize - Via Telephone
"My understanding is that a cross-fire occurred in Belize on Saturday - and well outside the adjacency zone in Belizean territory. Now, the reason why there was such a delay in airing of this story is that apparently, the BDF was not aware that there were any injuries when these cross-fires happened. So, reports coming out from Guatemala didn't reach us until Monday that there were injuries and a possible fatality. So we are looking into the matter; we have also asked the OAS to assist us in establishing the facts and to help our police in conducting their investigation."

Jim McFadzean
"Any determination yet what triggered the cross-fire?"

Alexis Rosado
"Well, you know, in those areas where Channel 7 has reported on a lot - and other news media - the Chiquibul area has become very active. We keep getting illegal activities in the area, and we keep sending cautions and warnings. The police and BDF have repeatedly had to deal with people who are doing things that they shouldn't be doing in our national parks."

Jim McFadzean
"Guatemalan President Otto Perez has said that he expects that his foreign minister will be meeting with Minister Elrington next week - sometime soon - and he expects that this incident be given top priority."

Alexis Rosado
"That would be normal in a situation like this. We would expect to discuss a wide range of things, and clearly this would have to be one of them, because as you know, the Chiquibul National park, and all protected areas, have been very active with illegal activities. We are trying to find ways on our side but also jointly with the Guatemalan and the OAS assistance to try to stem the tide of illegal activities."

The meeting between the two Foreign Ministers is set for this coming Monday in Belize. The men are expected to discuss a number of bilateral issues, but foremost on the agenda will be the latest border incident.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release yesterday in which it states: (quote):"The Government of Belize wishes to express its regret for any injury or loss of life that may have occurred, and offers its deepest sympathies to the families of those affected by the incident."

Channel 7

Re: Belize Security Forces Kill Guatemalan [Re: Marty] #429403
02/03/12 08:17 AM
02/03/12 08:17 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,387
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Visits Belize To "Protest" Shooting Of Guat Citizen

This afternoon a man was shot six times in board daylight in front of Belize Healthcare partners in Belize City. It is a stunning crime - particularly so for the residential neighborhood it happened in and because it suggests a spike in gang related crime. We'll have the full story shortly - as our team is just back from speaking with the family of the deceased Mark Lewis.

But first, we go to some other big news that happened in Belize City today. This morning Guatemala's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Harold Caballeros visited Belize in an official capacity to have talks with his Belizean counterpart, Wilfred Elrington. The meeting was held at the Foreign Affairs office in Belize City at the Whitfield Tower.

The meeting had been planned before Guatemalan Juan Choc Chub was allegedly shot and killed by the BDF in the Chiquibul Forest on Saturday afternoon - but that subject eclipsed all others and dominated discussions between the foreign ministers?

It also dominated the media's interview where Canciller Caballeros said he expects that the Government of Belize will compensate Chub's family for the loss of life in what he characterized as a disproportionate use of force by the BDF:

Embajador Harold Caballeros - Guatemalan Foreign Minister
"First of all let me tell you that we came to Belize after visiting Adjacency Zone because we wanted to see the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to find ways to have a better and closer relationship."

"Regrettable last Saturday we had this incident where a Guatemalan was killed and his brother was injured. That was top on the agenda. We discuss this and we ask for a due process, we ask for a full investigation and an explanation to Guatemala about what happened and we obtained a commitment from the Belizean government about such investigation."

"We both required verification from the OAS office and we will wait for an official report and we expect that there will be also an indemnisation for the family because this gentleman was 29 years old with 3 children and 2 on the way, his wife is pregnant. This is very regrettable. This is the source of the concern in the Guatemalan public opinion."

Hon. Sedi Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"This is an incident which occurred in Belizean territory and it's an allege crime. This is a matter exclusively for the Belize Police Force. The Belize Police Force has charge of the investigation. We have invited the OAS to be present and we have also invited personnel from Guatemala to be present to ensure that in fact all goes well and that the due process is followed."

"Once the result is concluded - it's just like any other criminal investigation; the police will go out there and do their job and then if in fact it is suspected, if we have reasonable grounds to believe that any in Belize in at fault then of course the due process will be taken. The legal action will be taken against them. If it is necessary they will be arrested and charge and the matter will go to our courts."

"We are expecting that when the police have done their work on the ground to look at the locus to investigate the soldiers and other people who were involve. We are also hoping that they will have a chance to interview the Guatemalans that are involve and at the end of that process they will determine whether in fact it's a matter that needs to go to the DPP for prosecution."

"If in fact there is persecution and people are found liable, certainly the government of Belize will be in a position and will certainly be dispose to compensating the family as he is intimating. That is going to come after in fact we ascertain what the truth is."

"At this point in time we are certain about nothing. There have been allegations. We have given instructions for it to be investigated and as soon as that is done we are going to make public the findings of the investigations and whatever is needed to be after that will be done in accordance with our laws."

Jules Vasquez
"In your country, the national sentiment is in flamed right now because they feel an injustice has been done. What is the message you will take back to your country that you will give publicly there?"

Embajador Harold Caballeros - Guatemalan Foreign Minister
"When we came we presented our protest and we feel that even if this matter happened in Belizean soil the response was out of proportion. If these peasants were caught with Xate which I understand is forbidden here there is a due process for that but not exactly killing a person and this person died in the arms of his brother who was also injured. That is unacceptable. That's what I came to present, we had a good conversation here and we obtain a commitment to investigate the matter thoroughly which is what we want because we want justice to be served. Then I go back to my country and I wll explain what we did here and I will explain too that it is very important for both countries to keep the relations as well as possible and even to increase closeness because we need to move forward. We need to move forward in order to finalize a conflict that we have had for so many years."

"We have several incidents that happened in the past in the AZ (Adjancency Zone) and the reports that we have and we are committed to share with the Belizean government are rather different. The OAS office has verified 4 serious incidents since August and they were not caused by Guatemalans."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you agree with the characterization that the 4 incidents since August were caused not by Guatemalans thus presumable they were caused by Belize security forces?"

Hon. Sedi Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"What the Foreign Minister has said very clearly is that we have different versions with respect to these incidents. That is something that we still have to sort out to find what in fact is the truth. They have undertaken to give us what they have and we have undertaken to give them what we have based on the assessments done by the OAS."

Jules Vasquez
"You said an allege crime. However if the incident happened in the territory of Belize, outside the AZ and as the Minister of Defence just told us the security forces were fired upon. Do not they first have a right to defend themselves?"

Hon. Sedi Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"It doesn't matter whether you are legitimate or a trespasser in a country. You have rights and therefore when you are dealing with a trespasser or a legitimate person you can't violate their rights and so persons can be found liable for their death unlawfully if in fact they were kill unlawfully. That is possible. Not because they are trespasses it means that you can believe that they have no rights and caused them to be killed. That is no so at all and is for that reason that we have obligation to have the police investigate it just like any other allege offence."

Jules Vasquez
"If the facts bared out that the security forces were fired upon though, that goes beyond the rights of a trespasser. A trespasser does not have the right to fire upon security forces in another country."

Hon. Sedi Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"Nobody has the right to fire on security forces, so those are legal issues that is going to be dealt with in the due course."

And while Elrington stressed that nothing is known for sure at this time - and will only be verified by investigation, for the BDF and Belize's Ministry of Defence, things are very clear.

We know that because Defence Minister Carlos Perdomo happened to be meeting with the Commander of the BDF, the Head of BDF Intelligence and the Ministry CEO at the same time Elrington and Caballeros were meeting in another room.

Perdomo told us that they are certain that the BDF was only returning fire when Chub was shot:..

Hon. Carlos Perdomo, Minister of Defence
"The investigation is showing that the BDF was fired upon in Belizean territory. That's the main thing that we have established. Away from the Adjacency Zone and we return fire. But at each point that we return fire we did not pursue. We just withdrew and so the knowledge of somebody getting wounded or killed according to the Guatemalan side. We did not know until Monday when we had link-up patrol with the Guatemalan military."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you able to specify the location?"

Hon. Carlos Perdomo, Minister of Defence
"I have it in grid form."

"But is it definitive that it's in Belizean territory?"

Hon. Carlos Perdomo, Minister of Defence
"Our investigation so far clearly shows that it is not only in Belizean territory but away from the Adjacency Zone even."

Jules Vasquez
"Which means that its more than one kilometer within Belizean territory?"

Hon. Carlos Perdomo, Minister of Defence
"The adjacency Zone is 1 kilometer from the border. These incidents occurred over a kilometer into Belize. In the Chiquibul we had an operation that was divided into 4 patrols. The first patrol Alpha came under contact twice, so it is likely but we don't have any definite proof that maybe the second contact might be the same group."

"A second patrol Bravo had a contact but that contact was light. It was quick, it was one shot. The BDF responded with another shot to deter and it ended. That third contact with the second patrol was minimal."

Jules Vasquez
"These happen within a time frame of?"

Hon. Carlos Perdomo, Minister of Defence
"One occurred like 12:30 in the afternoon and the other maybe a few hours later as the patrols move. They didn't sit, they move and continue their task and then they met the second."

"Our term of engagement is to defend ourselves and certainly the BDF will always defend itself."

And so if the BDF were defending themselves and the Guatemalans were firing on them - then it is not a crime. But right now those are just reports from both sides.

What follows next will be very complex and difficult police investigation. That's because first, there is no crime scene, and there is no body - presumably the Guatemalans have the body - and it may have already been buried. It is unclear whether the Belize police can use their post mortem report to launch an investigation in Belize. The OAS will also - as we understand it - observe this police investigation - and police would also have to get Guatemalan assistance to interview Chub's brother who was reported to have been injured as well. As we said, a complex, unprecedented type of investigation and it will be interesting to see how the tough technical details are worked out.

But - at the official level - both sides are committed to working it out and that's because Caballeros - who has been Foreign Minister for just two weeks said he wants to put the Belize Guatemala dispute behind him:

Hon. Sedi Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"I was very pleased by the expression by which the Foreign Minister used this morning. What he said essentially is that Guatemala is tired of this age-old dispute. They want to get rid of the dispute and bring it to an end so that they can have the kind of relationship with Belize that they have with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and all the countries."

Embajador Harold Caballeros - Guatemalan Foreign Minister
"We want a closer relationship as the Minister said. We want to leave this conflict behind us to look for a better future for our people."

Caballeros came to power with the Government of Otto Perez Molina, which took office on January 14, 2012.

Channel 7

Re: Belize Security Forces Kill Guatemalan [Re: Marty] #429523
02/04/12 09:28 AM
02/04/12 09:28 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,387
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Flashpoint at Chiquibul

The office of the recently installed Guatemalan president, Otto Perez Molina, issued a stern statement today, February 2, 2012, on the recent dispute over the killing of Guatemalan Juan Choc Chub, 29, blamed on Belize Defence Force (BDF) officers in what is being portrayed as a significant human rights violation.

Chub’s brother, Daniel, was also seriously injured, according to the official reports.

Today’s statement—the second the Guatemalan president has issued on the incident since Tuesday—noted that Guatemalan Foreign Affairs Minister Harold Caballeros travelled today, Thursday, to Belize, to ascertain whether any progress has been made in investigations into Chub’s death, which they claim occurred inside the adjacency zone – a strip of land along the Belize-Guatemalan border spanning a kilometer on each side of the un-demarcated line.

Belize’s Ambassador to the OAS, Nestor Mendez, told the media in Belize today that the reports from this side of the border have indicated that the incident happened inside Belize’s Chiquibul Forest.

Prime Minister Barrow told Amandala he has no reason to doubt the account that has been supplied by BDF officials.

He said that the reports indicate that Belizean security forces came under fire on the occasion of what should have been a routine link-up with the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) on the border, and that the incident happened further in from the adjacency zone, before the BDF met the GAF.

According to Barrow, it was after the BDF met GAF that the Guatemalan soldiers informed them of the death of Chub.

“Our people here have been screaming about incursions,” said Barrow, reiterating his government’s commitment to continue to step up security presence on the border.

The NGO, Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) has reported $15 million in losses due to illegal logging by Guatemalans in 2011, and there are millions more losses reported due to other illegal activities.

Also, over 30 Guatemalans are reportedly living illegally inside Belize, including inside the Chiquibul National Park, which should have strict protective status and be off-limits to occupation.

Barrow said that his biggest worry now is retaliation against Belizean security forces, since the border outposts are not heavily manned.

“I worry that this can spiral out of control,” he told us.

The presidential statement said that the Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Caballeros, appealed to the Government of Belize for an “exhaustive investigation” into the facts of the case, so that those responsible could be brought to justice. They went on to say that these incidents ought not to continue.

Today’s statement claims that three Guatemalans were attacked this past Saturday. The allegation is that the BDF detained them for interrogation, and Chub’s attempt to escape cost him his life.

Citing a much different account of what transpired last Saturday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow today declared the cross-border tensions surrounding illegal activities inside the Chiquibul—Belize’s most prized forest which has been a target of illegal logging, hunting, poaching, and even settlements—to have reached a “flashpoint.”

On Tuesday, his counterpart, Perez Molina, had issued a statement on the border incident. Of note is that Perez Molina, an ex- military, has taken a marked deviation from the custom of the former president, Alvaro Colom, to leave such pronouncements to the Guatemala Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The statement from the Guatemalan president’s office dated January 31, 2012, said that Belize has been asked to conduct an exhaustive investigation into Chub’s killing, allegedly at a Guatemalan village, Monte de los Olivos, Dolores, Peten.

However, Prime Minister Dean Barrow told our newspaper that the shooting, according to the official accounts provided to him by the BDF, took place well inside Belizean territory, and further east than the 1- kilometer adjacency line, contrary to the assertions made by the Guatemalan officials.

Perez Molina has noted that the current dispute ought not to affect the move to have the territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala settled via a binding declaration by the International Court of Justice.

Interestingly, Perez Molina’s statement went on to get very specific about the extent of the territorial claim. He cited “12,700 square kilometers [4,900 square miles] of the 22,965 square kilometers [8,867 square miles] occupied by Belize”—just over half of Belizean territory.

The presidential statement indicated that their preliminary information is that the incident occurred 1,600 meters (just short of a mile) from the adjacency zone and there was no justification for Chub’s life to have been taken.

However, the Guatemalan officials have called on the Organization of American States (OAS) to conduct a verification exercise, to establish the facts of the case.

Perez Molina also called on Belizean authorities to use their best efforts to ascertain who was responsible for the killing. Even if the incident had occurred two, three, five or ten kilometers [inside Belize] the president maintained, Chub’s life ought to have been respected.

The Guatemalan government has established an inter-department commission, including the OAS representatives in Guatemala, police, and human rights representatives, public ministry and military, to look into the allegations.

On the Belize side, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that “The Police Department has taken command of the investigation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has formally requested the OAS office in the Adjacency Zone to assist in the investigation.”

When Amandala contacted that OAS office today for information, we were told to send an e-mail. At press time tonight, our e-mail was still unanswered.

Prime Minister Barrow has stressed to us that the tensions are not military-to-military, but between Belizean security forces and civilians who tend to encroach on Belizean territory to conduct illegal activities.

Barrow underscored the need for Guatemalan officials to make the requisite land available for their people, to avoid further incursions inside Belize.

As for the call by the Guatemalans for an OAS investigation, Prime Minister Barrow said he will insist on having a Belizean representative there who can ensure that the verification is being done objectively.

Barrow lamented that the OAS has not been able to do as much as Belize would have liked to avoid these flashpoints.

He also spoke of another recent attack in which a patrol commander had to flee offensive fire, allegedly from a Guatemalan, but the Belizean officer responded with restraint, opting to use non-lethal fire instead of live rounds, said the Prime Minister.

As to last weekend’s fatal incident, Barrow alleged, the Guatemalans had fired on the BDF with lethal intent.

With the increased risks facing Belizean security forces patrolling the borders, we asked the Prime Minister whether there is a move to secure helicopters to assist in surveillance operations. He confirmed that this is being pursued, although, he said, they cost about $10 million apiece and would require external funding or a lease arrangement to bring them online.

He said that as a part of US Capital oil explorations operations in southern Belize, the Government is arranging for a specific amount of “flying hours” to assist with border surveillance, to be provided by choppers that US Capital will be importing from Guatemala.


Re: Belize Security Forces Kill Guatemalan [Re: Marty] #429651
02/05/12 11:43 AM
02/05/12 11:43 AM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,461
Belize City
Katie Valk Offline

Katie Valk  Offline
This was inside Belize territory, not the adjacency zone and this has been a problem for years and a situation like this was bound to happen. There is a man over the border in Guatemala who has more than 50 scarlet macaws, stolen from their nests in the Chiquibul inside Belize, in cages at his house, because he likes them.......and this is only one person. This is only ine unsult to the flora and fuana in the reserve, including collecting xate, hardwood extraction, hunting protected species for food and clearing land for milpas.

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