BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 30, 2016–Eight Belizeans whose names have yet to be released by authorities here are still being detained in Guatemala City, pending their deportation to Belize early this week.
The Government of Belize announced on Friday, May 27, that the Embassy of Belize in Guatemala City had received a report that the Guatemalan Navy had detained the 8 Belizeans when they were allegedly found disembarking their vessel at the Punta Manabique Beach in Izabal, Guatemala, without the requisite papers.
Punta Manabique is located roughly 16 miles to the southeast of Punta Gorda, as shown in the accompanying map.
“According to the Guatemalan Navy, seven of the eight individuals had in their possession Belizean fishing licenses, but no boat registration nor zarpe (a Guatemalan port authorization document),” the Government of Belize said in a press release.
“The Guatemalan Navy has handed the individuals to Guatemalan Immigration officials and they were transported to Guatemala City for processing,” the release added.
Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of National Security, Lawrence Sylvester, told Amandala this evening that on Friday night, Embassy staff visited the Belizeans and made sure they had clean clothing and slippers, since some of their personal items had been left in the boat. This morning they were taken to the Embassy to have their travel documents processed to facilitate their return home, the CEO added.
Sylvester said that the hope is that the Government will get a full debriefing when the Belizeans return home.
He told us that the detainees admit that they were found at Punta Manabique, the peninsula that sticks out in Bahia de Amatique, with no documents for themselves and for their skiff.
Today, via a second press release, the Government informed that the detainees were taken over to the Embassy of Belize to begin having their travel documents processed for deportation to Belize.
We asked Sylvester whether the detainees are from Punta Gorda, the nearest town to the location, and he said that he was not certain. One of the men said that he is from Corozal, Sylvester told us.
“Arrangements are being made for their return to Belize by road early this week,” he told us.
“I want to assure their families and next of kin that they are well looked after,” he added.