HICATEE CREEK, Toledo, Fri. May 27, 2016–Eighteen years ago, on May 2, 1998, Belize experienced its first act of terrorism. Heavily armed Guatemalan men who exhibited considerable military skills, seized control of the Hummingbird Highway and terrorized over two hundred Belizeans, who were held hostage.
While many were robbed of their personal possessions, a Belize Defence Force (BDF) soldier, Genaro Che, was unfortunately robbed of his life.
Che, 21, along with his older brother, Rosendo Che, 24, boarded a James Bus to Belize City to buy a generator for his (Genaro’s) wedding, which was scheduled for July of 1998.
However, while on the Hummingbird Highway, their bus, as were many other vehicles travelling in both directions, was stopped by armed Guatemalan bandits.
Genaro, who had initially given the bandits a dollar, attempted (after his life was threatened by the bandits, who demanded more money) to reach into his socks to surrender money he had saved for his generator. However, when he did so, he was shot in the head and then in other parts of his body.
His other brother, Agostino Che, today told Amandala that the armed Guatemalans had recognized Genaro as a member of the BDF because of his haircut and athletic body, and had in fact asked him whether he was a BDF soldier.
According to Agostino, Genaro’s last words were, “Goodbye, Rosendo, tell mom and dad goodbye. I will miss them.”
After murdering Genaro in front of all the hostages, the bandits fled the scene, traveling all the way past Belmopan, through Roaring Creek and Benque Viejo. Belize police had never had a crime like this committed on Belizean soil, and either because of initial inadequate information on the part of Belizean law enforcement or simply the Belizean police’s unpreparedness for such a crime, the criminals travelled from the center of the country, from the seat of Government just a few miles away, to the western border, and incredibly, not even a roadblock had been set up along the way to try to apprehend them.
Subsuquently, no one has ever been charged or convicted for this heinous assault on the Belizean people.
The day of Genaro’s funeral was also the day he became a married man. A priest was called in and the marriage ceremony was conducted. Agostino told us, “When a man gets a woman, they must marry. Therefore since my brother’s plan was to get married with Maria Cucul, but since they killed him, that promise still lives on.”
A month later, after Genaro’s passing, Maria gave birth to their son, Genaro Che, Jr., who is to graduate from Julian Cho Technical High School this year.
“Little Genaro Che struggles with his grandparents to go to school to study. They should have offered Genaro Che a scholarship to further his studies or go to University of Belize to become someone,” said Agostino.
The Che family told Amandala that they were never compensated by the Government of Belize for Genaro’s death.
The annual ceremonies that were held in memory of Genaro Che have since been discontinued. It is our hope that Genaro Che is never forgotten, as he paid the ultimate price for being a BDF soldier.