Headline — 14 October 2017 — by Rowland A. Parks
US diplomat flees Belize!

He was involved in a horrible, tragic traffic accident that killed two Belizean women and a child. A second child is in the hospital with both legs broken.

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 12, 2017–On Saturday, Samantha Castillo dropped her brother, Matthew Castillo, at Old Belize. He was going fishing.

The thirty-year-old Samantha headed back to her Bella Vista home in Belize City. Traveling with her in her Hyundai Element SUV was Martha Nayeli Vasquez, her sister-in-law; her one-year-old daughter, Deanna Castillo, and six-year-old daughter Angelique Castillo. The four family members didn’t make it back home.

At approximately 4:00 p.m., a pickup slammed into Castillo’s Hyundai near Mile 4 on the George Price Highway. The impact was catastrophic. Samantha, Martha and her baby, Deanna, were killed. The only member of the family to come out of the horrible accident alive was the 6-year-old child. She suffered two broken legs. Both girls are Matthew Castillo’s daughters.

The Ford F-150 pickup truck was being driven by Captain Justin Guidry, a military liaison officer with the post of Bi-lateral Affairs Officer, attached to the United States Embassy.

Guidry was almost immediately spirited away from the scene of the horrific accident before any attention was given to the three persons who died on the spot. He just literally disappeared from the scene.

Police, in their report, said he was taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. There was no mention of the injuries, if any, sustained by Guidry.

The United States Embassy would later claim diplomatic immunity from prosecution for Guidry under the Geneva Convention of 1961.

While police issued a press release about the accident, they did not hold a press conference; neither is it known whether a blood or urine sample was taken from Guidry to determine if he was driving under the influence.

Belize authorities owe it to the loved ones of the family who perished in the tragic accident to find out if the man who caused the accident was under the influence of alcohol or any illegal substance.

Amandala called the United States Embassy and spoke to Natella Svistunova, the Public Affairs Officer.

Svistunova would only tell us that Guidry is covered under the Geneva Convention and has diplomatic immunity.

Amandala asked Svistunova if the US Embassy or the US Government would undertake to assist the family of the accident victims.

Svistunova was non-committal, and would only offer, “The accident is under investigation and we cannot comment on that at this stage.”

Amandala asked Svistunova what kind of injuries Guidry sustained in the accident and what his condition is, but the Public Affairs Officer said that that is a matter of privacy and she could not comment on it.
In fact, it is believed that Guidry has already been spirited to the safety of the US.

Amandala called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we were told the Minister Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington is out of the country and so was the CEO of the Ministry. We were only able to speak to one Mrs. Perez, a senior secretary, who could not answer the question as to whether the Belize Government is making any representation on behalf of the accident victims.

Perez only told us that she would find out and get back to us, but up to press time tonight, we have not heard from anyone from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A call to the Police Department also did not yield any additional information, because we were told that the officer investigating the accident was on a “day off.”

Research into diplomatic immunity, however, suggests that it is not in all cases that diplomats can walk away from criminal liability. In fact, in recent times, several diplomats from various countries were made to face criminal charges and their diplomatic immunity stripped away. Lower ranking officials, however, have a weaker kind of immunity called functional immunity.

It is incomprehensible to this newspaper how a mother, child and aunt can be killed in a traffic accident involving a diplomat, of whatever nation, and our authorities have no answer for the nation.
More to the point, our authorities do not appear to want any answers.

The United States has no duty, in any sense, to the Belizean people, but our elected officials do. We consider it shameful that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has acted in this feeble, distressingly unprofessional manner. It has been five days since three Belizeans lost their lives tragically, and there has been no word from our elected officials. On behalf of the nation, we demand an account from Mr. Guidry as to what happened on that fatal afternoon, diplomat or not. All the adults in the Hyundai are dead; they cannot speak, which is very, very good for the US diplomat.

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Eden Cruz

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