Tomorrow marks exactly seven months since the death of 18 year old Hilberto Sotz inside the Caye Caulker Police Station, an incident which shook up a normally quiet and friendly corner of the Jewel. In the wake of that tragedy was formed a People’s Coalition to work with police to address issues of law and order on the island. Today they invited us out to La Isla Carińosa to publicize their first major effort: bringing pressure on the Ministry of National Security to get to work on upgrading the Police Barracks on the island, which after twenty years stands in a dilapidated condition. We spoke to the chairman of the Caye Caulker People’s Coalition, Mike Medvikov.
At a time when the village of Caye Caulker is experiencing unprecedented growth and development, with construction happening on almost every corner, the question is asked: should Police officers have to live like this? It is a question the leaders of the People’s Coalition of Caye Caulker say they hope to put to area representative Manuel Heredia Jr. and Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, several months after their last visits here. The island’s compliment of police officers are doing their best to keep up with the growing demands of law enforcement on this slice of paradise after the death of 18 year old Hilberto Sotz while in police custody last June threatened to upset the apple cart. Angry residents confronted police with stones and bottles, necessitating the intervention of backup forces from Belize City and San Pedro as well as the Gang Suppression Unit. These days, according to business owner Shary Trejo, police are presenting a different face: And that’s why, according to village chairman Wayne Miller, the lawmen have earned their sympathy and support. The barracks is reportedly on the list of projects to be funded by the US$30 million CABEI loan granted to Government last year for national security projects. We are told that Minister Heredia will be visiting the island tomorrow and members of the Coalition hope to get a meeting with him.