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Jul 12, 2021

Benque Death Has Villagers Angry

Edwin Brian Isidro

An incident in Benque Viejo del Carmen which left a man dead has provoked outrage in this quiet border town. The victim was reportedly wading in the Mopan River trying to get to Guatemala. Witnesses claim the police not only shot at him but callously refused to pull him from the water. They claim police also arrested one man who posted the images to social media. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was in Benque today. 


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Residents in Benque Viejo del Carmen are angry at the police’s response in an incident that has left twenty-six-year-old Edwin Brian Isidro dead. It happened here at the Mopan River in Benque after ten o’clock on Sunday morning. Lopez was at her aunt’s house overlooking the river when she heard several shots ring out. Those shots were fired by one or more of approximately six police officers on the scene.


Bedalia Lopez, Benque Resident

“I see it from up at my aunt’s house. The man mi deh dah river with some friends but I can’t say if the man come from Melchor or he mi di swim right yah because I nuh see exactly but afterwards, S.P.U. started to shoot.”


Andrea Polanco

“Are you able to describe how many shots; what direction they fired those shots?”


Bedalia Lopez

“Miss, I heard like three or four shots because like I tell you I was at my aunt’s house seeing everything.”


Bedalia Lopez

Isidro was reportedly in the company of two other men. According to Lopez, the shots appeared to have scared Isidro and he fell and went underwater. But she says the lawmen refused to help him because they said he was a Guatemalan.


Bedalia Lopez

“But I nuh wah say that police shoot the man because the man nuh got any gunshot injuries on him. But when they shoot the man drop in the water and they see when the man fell in the water.  And he died right here. The police officers say they won’t help the man because they think he dah from Guatemala – and he dah from Belize. So, they nuh do nothing to help the man.”


Andrea Polanco

“So, yesterday when the man fell in the water, police neva help ah none at all?”


Bedalia Lopez

“Police nuh help. Police sit down right deh and smoke cigarette every minute and they say they wah call people to find the man but people nuh reach.”


Edwin Brian Isidro, according to family members, was heading over to Guatemala. He and two others were making their way through the illegal entry point because they were heading to the USA. His two friends took off when the cops fired the shots but Isidro died near the illegal crossing. Residents say that it wasn’t until half an hour later they managed to retrieve his body. This video, captured by a resident in the area, shows Isidro stretched out on the ground moments after he was pulled from the water. The rescuers say that they didn’t observe any gunshot injuries, only small abrasions on his face.


Bedalia Lopez

“All ah we come – lotta people mi deh yah dah the river and we come to try and help to find the man and my nephew find the man right deh and when he and five other persons took the man outside that is when police come and start to insult the people and tell the people to go because they don’t have anything to do right yah. So, we do the police job.”


Andrea Polanco

“So when they took out the body you guys didn’t see any blood or any gunshot injuries?”


Edgar Naj

Bedalia Lopez

“No he only had a lee scratch right yah because he fell in the water and also by his mouth, his lip.”


Benque Resident Edgar Naj who was also videoing the incident, now finds himself behind bars. His family claims police beat him simply because he filmed the incident on Facebook Live.


Yorleni Martinez

Yorleni Martinez, Spouse of Edgar Naj [Translated]

“Today, they went to arrest him because he didn’t have to do that but they didn’t arrive as they should have; they were aggressive with my husband. They shouted at me because I told them I didn’t know where he was. When they detained him they took him home and they beat him up and didn’t allow anyone to get close and it is all because of the video. I am of the view that if he did something bad by filming, they could have detained him but  they didn’t need to beat him up.”


Lopez says that residents in the town have been enduring harassment at the hands of police officers – similarly to what they experienced on the river bank on Sunday.


Bedalia Lopez

“So, right now we deh yah to say mek this thing stop. Every time police come and harass we for nothing. Sometimes they just go to the house and search the house do anything that they want and we nuh say nothing. We nuh have anybody to support us for them to stop. I know and understand that the police have to do their job because that is why they come to Benque to do their job but they nuh the do their job and they just come right here to harass people and they nuh say nothing because they fraid fi police.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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