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May 16, 2016

Mennonite Farmer Detained, Kidnapped and Held by the Guatemalan Military

There is an incredible story coming out of the borderland between Belize and Guatemala behind Spanish Lookout. It involves allegations of kidnapping, assault and damage to property. Last Thursday, Mennonite Roger Plett claims that he was physically detained by the Guatemalan military and taken off the farm he was working, into Guatemalan territory. It’s a story of different facets and one we cannot cover comprehensively in one newscast, but we start tonight with the alleged detention of Plett. Our News Five team has been on the story all day and are putting the pieces together. Mike Rudon reports.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This farm belonging to George Plett lies about six miles behind the center of Spanish Lookout, as the crow flies. Three miles of the cultivated farm land actually borders Guatemala. That line of trees right there is the border. On Thursday, George Plett’s son Roger was on a tractor on fire-duty. This isn’t an actual road. It’s a fire-break which protects Plett’s land from fires caused by the arid conditions.

 

Roger Plett

Roger Plett, Detained by Guatemalans
“I was in the tractor when suddenly there was ten military persons and there was like five persons in similar clothing that came running out of the forest. They were military and surrounded the tractor and one person in civilian clothing came and started beating his machete against the side of the tractor door, yelling in Spanish and telling me to get out of the tractor. Me, for fear of my life, I didn’t try to run with the tractor; I climbed out of the tractor. When I climbed out of the tractor, the military men, the men in camouflage clothing came and surrounded me. The guy in charge then pushed me towards the forest, telling me to walk. So I started walking towards the forest, towards the Guatemalan side.”

Plett was taken from this spot here, just feet from the border line on the Belizean side and marched into this large tree line and then on into hostile territory.

Roger Plett

“One of the military guys he shove me on my back and said run. I didn’t comply right away because I didn’t understand why I was supposed to run. He shove me again in the back and he said I said run so I started running. So we came out of the smoke and I saw that there was another fifteen or twenty military persons and a next twenty people in civilian clothing. There was around five of them with like a sand color overcoat and a logo on the side. Since everything was written in Spanish, I couldn’t quite make out everything that it said. I know it said something about forestry and preserve that it said on there; I recognised the logo on one of the vehicles that they had there. So when I came through the smoke, the guy in charge—he is a lighter-skinned man—he grabbed me on the right arm. And I knew this was going to be trouble for me so I pulled out my phone and called Manuel Ayala, my co-worker. And I managed to get the call through before the guy took the phone away and so I knew once I had gotten through to him, he would be able to find the correct people.”

Plett’s phone was taken away at that point, and he says he knew he was in real trouble when he heard the men talking about tying him up.

Roger Plett

“The lighter-skinned guy in charge, he told the military to tie my hands behind my back, so the guy took his black rope off of his shoulder and tied my arms behind my back. They then led me a little further on to this road that they had that led further into Guatemala. They had a smaller red Toyota pickup, a bigger four-by-four Toyota pickup, they had a grey Toyota Hilux and a white Toyota Hilux. They walked me into this road and lean me against the vehicle and started questioning me, asking me who the owner of the land was, who I worked for. They asked me for my name, who the owner of the tractor and who the owner of the bulldozer was. But I just kept telling them that I was an employee, I didn’t know anything, I couldn’t help them with any information. So then the guy in charge told the military, the men dressed in Guatemalan military clothing, to load me up on the vehicle when it came in. Then they started walking me further along the road and I asked the guy, why do you have me tied up; where are you taking me? And the guy told me someone has to take the fall for this. Someone has to be to blame for the fire.”
Plett explained to them that they were fighting the fire and not responsible for it, but was told that he would be loaded up into a truck and taken away. He had to think fast at that point.

Roger Plett

“Then I came to the idea that I will tell them that I am a Canadian. I then told them you know what I am a Canadian and that I came from Steinback, Malatoba; that is where my brother and sister live in Canada. I started telling them about the forest fires that they had in Alberta and how they had two thousand four hundred homes burnt down and everything. And then they started listening to what I was saying and then they stopped walking me further in. The guy in charge, the lighter-skinned guy, he then went back to where we came from, they sat me down there. I would say I sat there roughly one hour before the guy came back. When the guy came back, he had a complete change of heart. He said, don’t worry, “noh te preocupes.” We will release you once he bulldozer comes in this side and does the work that we want it to do.”

 

Mike Rudon for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Mennonite Farmer Detained, Kidnapped and Held by the Guatemalan Military”

  1. Ernest Acosta says:

    I’m telling you people its only going to get worse. We have to put a stop to this now. Guatemala will continue its agression and will continue to blame Belize for everything.

  2. MNHG says:

    YOUR GOD THAT YOU ADORE WAS WITH YOU , TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT YOUR POWERFUL AND WONDERFUL GOD.
    YOU ARE ONE IN A MILLION , GUATEMALA IS FURIOUS BECAUSE THEY ARE SO STUPID. BELIZE WAS NEVER NEVER FOR GUATEMALA.
    BUT TELL THEM TRY BE STUPID ENOUGH TO INVADE,THE BDF , THE GURCAS , THE BRITISH, CUBA AND MEXICO ARE ALREADY WAITING FOR THOSE STUPID CHAPINES.

  3. CEO says:

    Shush! remember we should not say anything about this because it will piss off the Guats!

    Who will grow a new pair and say something about this to the world?

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