Letters — 25 June 2016
What is our security in Arenal?

Dear Editor,
With great worry I am writing you with hope that our country knows of what the village of Arenal had been through. I want to write about two incidents that happened in the village during the nights of the 6 and 7 of May and the negligence of the government towards the community.

On Friday 6 of May, some young Belizean men were having a few beers on the Arenal Guatemala. The Guatemalan police and army were called because of a bar fight. They came, but never to see what was the problem, instead came saying that they will arrest anyone who didn’t have any Guatemalan documents. When the Belizeans heard that, they started leaving the bar. The police started chasing them all the way to the Belizean side. The shouts woke up my brother-in-law. When he came out, he was surprised by the Guatemalan police and army who were approximately 25 soldiers and 5 police officers. He immediately called them out and asked what we’re they looking for at our yard and he told them that they were already in Belizean territory and on a private property. They respectfully left and stopped chasing the guys.

On Saturday night the Arenal police came to my house to take my brother-in-law’s statement.

A few hours after the Belizean cops have left my house, we heard once again shouts and people running. Again the Guatemalan police and army came into our territory and arrested 7 Belizeans. This time I witnessed it myself. The guys were gun pointed and some of them were even kicked and slapped on the face. They were put to the ground with their hands on their backs like if they were criminals. This time our police officers weren’t asleep and came out to see what was going on. They bravely went to see the situation and after a few minutes of conversation our cops were able to take all the guys into their custody.

Mr. Armando Chulin was the only one who published on his Facebook page a part of the story that happened on that night. He did forget to mention the following incident.

After the Belizean officers took the arrested young men into custody, the Guatemalans stayed on our side of Arenal and didn’t leave. Seeing this a few civilians got together and fired three times to the Guatemalans. The Guatemalan soldiers and police immediately ran back to their territory.

After all these occurrences, the government of Belize didn’t even bother to come and investigate the situation. I wonder if this is not an incident that the government should at least come and tell the people that they will do something about it. The government needs to speak up and let the Guatemalan government know that they can’t do that. I can’t believe civilians courageously set things straight and try to show that our border must be respected. They risked their lives. I want to ask the Government of Belize: what are you going to do to stop similar situations from happening? What is our security in Arenal? Are you going to keep letting the Guatemalan army cross the border like if it doesn’t exist? Do you want the civilians of Arenal to keep risking their lives to protect our border? The Arenal community deserves respect and an answer.

Sincerely,

Julio Garcia

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