General — 07 September 2016 — by Adele Ramos
Guatemala petitions OAS over report on minor’s death near Belize border

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 5, 2016–The recently appointed ambassador for Guatemala to the Organization of American States (OAS), Gabriel Aguilera Peralta, has written OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, claiming that the recently unveiled investigative report into the death of Guatemalan minor, Julio René Alvarado Ruano, is “incomplete,” according to an article published by La Hora, a Guatemalan news source.

Chief Executive Officer in the Belize Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Sylvester, told Amandala that he knows of no such letter.

The investigation in question indicated that the minor, as well as his brother and father who suffered minor injuries, were not shot by the BDF but by weapons which appear to be those carried by the FCD rangers who were part of the patrol that was present at the time of the shooting.

Guatemala’s Foreign Minister, Carlos Raul Morales, has reportedly said that they intend to petition the OAS to stop Belizean “paramilitary,” speaking of FCD rangers, from patrolling near the border.

However, Sylvester said that he is unaware of any such demand from the Guatemalans, and cites the fact that similar Guatemalan conservation groups are given concessions to operate on their side.

In May this year, Roger Plett, a 21-year-old Mennonite from the Spanish Lookout area, claimed that he was abducted by Guatemalans armed with machetes and guns and his tractor commandeered after the Guatemalans working near the border claimed that Belizeans were causing troublesome forest fires in the area. A social media post by one of the Guatemalan NGOs indicated that the Guatemalan military was a part of the joint team operating in the area. Belize has asked for an investigation by the OAS, and Sylvester told us that, “we are still awaiting that [OAS] report” on the incident.

The OAS, he said, gave priority to the fatal incident which claimed the life of the Guatemalan minor in April. Belize has also called on the OAS to investigate two other shootings in the Caracol area, the first dating back to 2014, which claimed the life of Belize Special Constable Danny Conorquie, and the second, reported this March, involving an armed attacked on BDF Staff Sergeant Richard Lambey.

Meanwhile, the letter from the Guatemalan diplomat, Gabriel Aguilera Peralta, who has been involved in the Belize-Guatemala process for more than a decade, advances the official position of the Guatemalan government that action should be taken against the person or persons who fatally shot the Guatemalan minor back in April, despite the findings of the independent investigative report—which supported Belize’s self-defense claim.

Sylvester reiterated Belize’s position, and told us that the results of the independent investigation, which he expects will form a part of the police file, have been passed to the Commissioner of Police, who would make them available to the Director of Public Prosecution, who would then review the matter and decide if any action needs to be taken on it.

As for the reports that Guatemala is petitioning the OAS on the matter, Sylvester said that he cannot attest to the veracity of those reports, since he has not seen anything official himself, although he did see the reports which surfaced in the Guatemalan press last week.

La Hora reports that upon receiving Guatemala’s petition, the OAS Secretary General Almagro indicated that he would consider its contents before replying.

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