BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 22, 2018– Last Tuesday, the temperature at our Western border rose to a level that was a little higher than normal. First, a Guatemalan journalist for the Prensa Libre, Rigoberto Escobar López, claimed that he was assaulted by Belizean authorities.
According to him, while taking photos in the area known as no man’s land (a strip of land situated between the Customs Departments of Belize and Guatemala), he was approached by Belizean authorities who told him to leave the area immediately.
Lopez claimed that while he was about to make contact with Guatemalan authorities along the border, he was held by the neck by Belizean authorities.
Video footage revealed that later that night, three Guatemalan Kaibiles crossed over into the Belize side of the border. Video footage showed them walking to the Customs desk.
On Friday, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, weighed in on the report. He told the press that reports he had received from the police and immigration officials reveal that three Guatemalan soldiers had crossed the border only to inquire about the incident involving the Guatemalan journalist.
Elrington said the soldiers were directed to make their inquiries at the Organization of American States (OAS) office, after which they left.
“There is no reporting that they were in any way menacing or belligerent,” said Elrington. He added that the reports said that there was no evidence that the soldiers had weapons.
Elrington said that much hullabaloo was being made over nothing.
When asked if the shoe were on the other foot and our authorities acted in the same fashion as the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF), if it would have been appropriate.
Elrington advised against it. He said that if an incident surfaced which could get out of hand, it should be reported to the proper channels.
“If people are coming into the country unlawfully, they have an obligation and a duty to deal with that,” he said.