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Jul 24, 2015

Conservation Post Inaugurated at Caracol in Memory of Danny Conorquie

Almost a year after the shooting death of Tourism Police Officer Danny Conorquie at the Caracal Archaeological Site in Western Belize, a conservation post has been erected to thwart illicit activity in the area.  For quite some time it is believed that Guatemalan bandidos have pillaged the ancient site, taking along with them precious artifacts and other valuables. The murder of the young officer brought renewed focus on the need for law enforcement to maintain a permanent presence in the area.  This morning, a conservation post was inaugurated near the site.  News Five’s Duane Moody has that story.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Over the past year, the government of Belize has put in place improved security measures at all archeological reserves and in particular the Caracol. In an effort to address security concerns within the Chiquibul, funding has been provided to assist with overall management in the area. The new Conservation Post was built in-house by the Institute of Archeology and that, along with the refurbishment of the tourism policing unit, is valued at one hundred thousand dollars.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism and Culture

“We have been able to build this conservation post to host twelve soldiers of the Belize Defense Force who will patrol and protect visitors—both local and foreign—who  come to Caracol to enjoy our Mayan cultural heritage. The facilities include sleeping quarters, showers, bathrooms, radio and other amenities.”

 

Dr. John Morris, Director, Institute of Archaeology

“It is designed to house the members of the B.D.F. so that they can patrol the Caracol Archeological Reserve—the site core and also the surrounding areas—because remember we are very close to the Guatemalan border and we have always had threats of people coming across—either interfering with our operations here at the reserve or looting and damaging some of the sites in the reserve. So with the B.D.F., the Belize Defense Force, out here and with the tourism police and other police constables, we have beefed up the security measures here to prevent those kind of things and we have seen a very sizeable decrease of movements of people from across the border within this area.”

 

The multi-ministerial project is to ensure the safety of visitors to the site and that the looting, pillaging and exploitation within the Chiquibul National Park will be minimized. Just last year, Tourism Police Officer, Danny Conorquie was killed as he stood watch at the archeological site, by men believed to be Guatemalans. The incident brought to light the need for more security in the area and Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, says that it allows for the military to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country. A total of thirty-six officers have now been assigned to man the area.

 

John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

“It is timely and perhaps certainly a little too late in terms of what the minister had said earlier about the death of Danny Conorquie. But it is a step in the right direction to protect those that now come to this facility. And I am happy that my ministry and the B.D.F. and the police department that are also a part of this effort, we are able to be partners in this conservation post. My ministry and in particular the B.D.F. is more able to assist in these types of endeavors and indeed participate because it is our duty to protect the security of our borders, to protect the security and sovereignty of our country. But we are more able to do this because as you know, last year, we were able to remove the B.D.F. from civilian duties that we had given to them practically in assisting the police department in the streets of Belize City.”

 

So what is the response time in the event of an incident in the area?”

 

John Morris

Dr. John Morris

“Well it will be immediate because this base here is tied in to the one at Douglas D’Silva and also the one at Belizario Camp in Central Farm so it would be an immediate response. And it is the reason why we lobbied for building it here at Caracol because this is where fifteen-twenty thousand people come every year and this is the road that most of the tourists and local…in fact, on some days, we have many school children coming back here and we don’t want to have our school children in any danger. So having the B.D.F. here is a security measure for Belizeans.

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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