BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 16, 2016–After more than thirty years of gathering intelligence, dating back to the 70s, a retired special branch officer, who prefers to remain unnamed, decided to break his silence in an interview with Amandala.
He reached the climax of his intelligence-gathering career during joint operations with the British, Americans and Guatemalans.
He indicated that during the time of his intelligence-gathering, Guatemala was engaged in a brutal civil war that was waged from around 1960 to 1996, between the Guatemalan government and various leftist guerrilla groups. By 1979, as the civil war in Guatemala was intensifying, Guatemalan support groups had made their way to Belize, from which they provided food, medicine and possibly arms to the rebellious guerrillas, the retired agent said.
He told our newspaper that these guerilla support groups were located in places like the Valley of Peace, Armenia, Blackman Eddy and Maskall; while the community of Billy White served as the nucleus for their operations.
“Whenever they take their supplies, they go to the border by the Bullet Tree area and they would dig holes and they would hide food and medications in these places and then they would leave [them] there and then the guerrillas would come in and retrieve [them],” he shared.
According to the retired intelligence officer, his theory is that the guerillas believed that Belize was sympathetic to their communist philosophy, because it was during a time when Belize was trying to secure its independence. Belize, it had been said, had been friendly with several communist nations and peoples.
By 1983, these guerilla support groups had been discovered by the independent Belizean government (whose defense portfolio was managed by the British), after a Belizean was caught in Chetumal by the intelligence personnel of Mexico with a message enclosed in a toothpaste tube.
The message was an overview of the support group’s activity in Belize. It was believed that the letter was to be relayed to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico, the retired agent revealed.
All of the players in those support groups were interviewed, photographed and monitored by the Special Branch, as the Belize Government refused to deport them.
According to the retired intelligence agent, he felt the urge to speak, “…when I read the Amandala two weeks ago and I saw the British had already released their archives concerning the British and Belizean intelligence that were conducted in Belize.”
That articled, featured in the May 31, 2016 Amandala, was republished from Vice, a Canadian news source. It was titled, “How the British Army Cooperated with the Murderous Guatemalan Regime.”
“What I read there is what I did,” the retired agent said.
He went on to reveal that, “Around 1979, we started cross-border meetings with Guatemalan military, the commander in Melchor and the commandante of Kaibiles in La Polvora, 8 miles away from Melchor.”
Those meetings, he said, were characterized by excesses of Guatemalan Gallo beers, game meat and marimba music. During the night, the Guatemalan soldiers would chauffer them into the seductive Flores night life.
He reflected on incidents connected to the British-led Belize-Guatemala operations, of which regular Belizeans were oblivious.
“On one occasion, the Guatemalan Army/Kaibiles in plain clothes, came into Billy White to kidnap a guerrilla leader undercover. This was happening and the public didn’t know, and then to add to that, in 1979 or 1980, the driver of the socialist minister Assad Shoman, Alvin August, was driving his vehicle in Mr. Shoman’s yard in Santa Elena when he was killed.”
“We heard it was either a message that was being sent or maybe Assad was the target. Mr. Assad was close [to some other communists] and it was Assad that used to bring Mejia Godoy [a Nicaraguan singer said to have been close to the revolutionary Sandinistas] every year to Cayo for September celebrations,” he added.
When asked if he had any regrets, the agent told us: “No. I enjoyed it. Sad to say but I find it intriguing, you know, when you are young, like the James Bond type of thing. That’s how our intelligence officers feel, you know. At the time, you feel you’re doing something good; you don’t see the bigger picture. You don’t see the consequences; for example the thousands of peasants that were massacred in Guatemala.”
“Looking at it now, that is why some people refuse to work in intelligence. There are some officers that don’t want to work there because of the secrecy and the things you have to do. In time it bothers your conscience,” the ex-agent confessed.