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Aug 29, 2016

Independent Commissioners Present Report on Julio Alvarado Death

A report from experts, Doctors James Hamby of the U.S. and Doctor Patricia Trujillo of Mexico, on the killing of a Guatemalan minor back in April was released last week in Belize. The findings of the experts validate initial reports that the B.D.F. did not fire the fatal shots that took the life of Julio Rene Alvarado. Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize and the Prime Minister have spoken on the report; though their stance differs. On Saturday, Magdalena Talamas, called a brief press conference to officially present the report on behalf of the O.A.S. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports from the Adjacency Zone.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The formal publication of a report commissioned by the Organization of American States, following an independent investigation into the shooting death of Guatemalan minor Julio Rene Alvarado Ruano was delivered to the Government of Belize last Thursday.  The findings of the nonpartisan inquiry reveal that the B.D.F., contrary to unsupported allegations made by the Guatemalan head of government at the international roundtable, did not fire the shots that mortally injured the fourteen-year-old boy.  Magdalena Talamas is a Special Representative of the O.A.S. Secretary-General for Belize/Guatemala Affairs.

 

Magdalena Talamas

Magdalena Talamas, O.A.S. Representative

“I have traveled to Belize and to Guatemala at the request of the Secretary General to formally hand over the report of the independent commission that carried out the investigation of the incident that took place in the Adjacency Zone on April twentieth of this year in which a Guatemalan minor was killed.”

 

That investigation, as we’ve reported, was conducted by a team of forensic experts, including Dr. James Hamby and Dr. Patricia Trujillo whose services were provide through the United States and Mexican governments, respectively.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“This report has been shared with all our allies and the like; people know it and an important thing we need to understand is that this is simply findings of investigators.  This is done every day when you have criminal investigations, where you have the police investigating.  The only difference here is that we got in special experts and specialists so as to leave no doubt that we were doing all in our best to make sure that the investigation was impartial and fair and objective so that we could not be accused of hiding anything.”

 

The O.A.S. Report clearly outlines the methodology used by investigators in gathering information on the deadly confrontation.  The results of the probe also indicate that the scene of the fatal shooting within the Chiquibul National Forest had since been visited on at least five occasions by various agencies, including the Guatemalan army.

 

Magdalena Talamas

“We’re satisfied that the experts have conducted a thorough investigation.  We’re satisfied by the level of these experts who, as I mentioned earlier, they are highly experienced, they have ample experience and expertise in the matter that they were hired to carry out.”

 

Dean Barrow

With the findings of the O.A.S. Report having exculpated the Belize Defense Force, is an act of contrition from Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales forthcoming?  Prime Minister Barrow believes that an apology is in order.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: August 25th, 2016]

“It is clearly vindication; we are very pleased; we always knew, though, that that was in fact the position.  Still a little worrying as to how the Guatemalans will react now, because this is clear vindication for the B.D.F. and exposed the falsity of the position taken by their president, taken by their Foreign Minister and taken by their officials; so I am hoping that they will be mature enough to accept that they were wrong; that the allegations that they made against the B.D.F. were utterly unjustified, and that they owe Belize an apology.”

 

Admittedly, the O.A.S. has said that it cannot interpret the findings.  Foreign Minister Elrington, on the other hand, maintains that a cordial relationship with Guatemala, in spite of the disparaging remarks made in the wake of the shooting, is perhaps more important than an apology.

 

Wilfred Elrington

“The prime minister has his own view [and] that’s the beauty of democracy.  We all have our own views and even in Cabinet we have our own views, so that’s the prime minister’s view.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“But from a foreign affairs perspective, wouldn’t one be deserved?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“From a foreign affairs perspective the important thing is that we remain cordial with the Guatemalans, that we deal with them in a way whereby they will be able to act in a more friendly way towards us.  We need to have a win-win situation.  We can’t afford to have a controversial, contested relationship with.  We in particular are too small.”

 

While the results of that report vindicate the B.D.F., the O.A.S. has also agreed to look into the shooting deaths of Danny Conorquie, as well as Staff Sergeant Richard Lambey.  Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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