Reaction from across the border on Guatemalan killed by B.D.F.
On Wednesday evening, a Guatemalan logger was killed in a shootout with the Belize Defence Force. It is second such incident this year and it is being vehemently protested by the Guatemalan government, which called a press conference late Thursday evening. The Organization of American States has been brought into the picture and both are calling for a thorough investigation. The fatal encounter occurred in the Columbia River Forest Reserve when a team of officers on routine patrol of the area came across a trio of loggers. The intruders are said to have been unlawfully felling trees when the unit came in contact with them. Details of the faceoff are expected to be disclosed at the end of a debriefing; however, News Five understands that the slain logger is Luis Alberto Martinez Alonzo. Two men, identified by Guatemalan authorities as Jose Antonio Sosa and Hugo Monroy Ramos, are in police custody. Martinez’ body was brought to Belize City where an autopsy was conducted and witnessed by the Guatemalan embassy. His body has been taken across the border to Melchor de Mencos and will be handed over to his family. According to C.E.O. in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexis Rosado, the outcome of the investigation will determine whether the officers acted within their standing orders.
Via phone: Alexis Rosado, C.E.O., Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“What happened is that a patrol unit of the B.D.F. was heading towards Machaquila Conservation Post at about 1800 hours, six p.m., and they encountered three persons who were engaged in illegal logging apparently. The encounter led to some kind of confrontation which led to a shooting, which led to a person being shot [and] injured fatally.”
“Now Mr. Rosado, I am certain that there was a debriefing immediately following this incident. Is there any truth to the allegation that it was the Belize Defense Force personnel in the area who fired first?”
“We don’t know about that yet. The interrogation is happening as we speak now; police were called in as soon as we could. They went into the area. The patrol unit was brought in and interrogation is happening today.”
“This is the second incident where someone has been shot and killed, an intruder from neighboring Guatemala has been killed in Belizean territory. How does it work in terms of…”
“That is something to be much regretted. What has happened over the last few years, as you know, you all have been reporting about it, the activities seem to be increasing in the area. The law enforcement authorities have increasingly been meeting and observing illegal activities in the area and sooner or later we, we’ve always been afraid that sooner or it would lead to something like this. It is something that we terribly regret. Every loss of life is a tragedy but, you’re right, there was one incident sometime ago and we have to deal with it. What the authorities are doing [is that they are] doing everything by the book and acting very professionally and being as transparent as we possibly can to ensure that we get the facts right and make sure that we deal with it as soon as we could.”