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Jun 10, 2019

How We Treat Mental Health in Belize

Jules Vasquez

While the Vasquez family, through attorney Leslie Mendez, issued a statement on Friday criticizing the police for negligence, it is expected that legal action will be taken against the department.  Beyond a lawsuit and compensation, however, is the issue of how persons with mental health issues are treated in Belize.


Jules Vasquez, Brother of Deceased

“He was mercilessly beaten in that cell.  A very large swath of blood.  They then bungled, serial errors, they moved with no urgency towards the cell where they had been notified that, just voices in the cell, “Fight! Fight!”  That kind of thing.  They responded with complete, in a blasé manner, just lasing into the thing like “wow, weh di go on.”  No urgency to save a dying man‘s life.  He was removed from the cell, limbs flailing, unconscious but bleeding, bludgeoned and he was then, without stretcher, put into a police mobile, no driver for that mobile.  Change him from that mobile to another mobile, time is being lost, blood is being lost.  He is dying and they then took him to KHMH after that series of errors where he was eventually, in quite short order, taken from the trauma room to the ICU and he died in the ICU about sixty hours later or fifty-five hours later.  He died in the ICU despite the best efforts.  So that‘s the sequence of events, there were multiple breakdowns but the most egregious is that the police, the officers on duty who have been named and on interdiction, under criminal and disciplinary investigation, they failed so thoroughly in their duty of care.  They put my brother who they knew, because I had spoken to the duty officer, was having an acute episode that week, that he was mentally ill, they put him in a cell with a man who had just displayed a psychotic binge on Nurse Elijio.  They put him in there to be killed and he’s dead.”

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