BELIZE CITY, Thur. June. 23, 2016–Pedro Barrera, a Guatemalan guerrilla informant, was murdered on Belizean soil almost three days after being jointly handed over to Guatemala by the Belizean and British authorities.
According to an ex-Belizean intelligence officer, “Pedro Barrera wanted support — that we grant him refugee status in Belize to protect him and stay here, so he started to cooperate with us and he promised that he was going to show us a guerrilla camp south of Arenal.”
The retired bilingual intelligence agent recalled serving as the translator for communications between a British patrol and Barrera, as he led them in a search for guerrilla camps inside the jungles of Belize.
He further recalled that they were deposited about 15 miles south of Arenal and after hiking almost seven hours in search of guerrilla camps they slept in the jungle.
By their third day in the jungle, the British had discontinued their operation in Arenal with the belief that Barrera was lying to them. The retired agent told Amandala that Barrera began to cry as they were leaving Arenal.
“The mistake we made, I think, we flew in a Gazelle, the British Gazelle; we flew south of Arenal to do our reconnaissance flight, but it’s obvious the man took us to the spot, showed us the guerrilla camp, but you think they would stay there?” conceded the retired agent.
According to the agent, the governor at the time decided that we must hand over Barrera back to Guatemala because he was an informant.
However, after failing to expose the guerrilla camps, Barrera continued to press for refugee status and thereafter offered to share everything he knew about the Guatemalan army with the Belizean and British authorities.
While he spoke of slaughter committed against the Guatemalan indigenous people by the Guatemala army, the British officers recorded everything he said.
According to the agent, when it was time to hand over Barrera to the Guatemalans in Melchor, the British played the recorded tape. The agent recalled that upon hearing Barrera’s accusations the faces of the Guatemalan officers contorted with anger.
The Guatemalan informant was handed over to Guatemalan officials across the Melchor border on a Friday, and by Sunday Belizean police in Arenal received reports that a man was shot to death in the middle of the village, recounted the agent.
“The people say that a group of Guatemalan kaibiles took the man to Arenal and released him to come across and he was followed by two plain clothes… we suspect they are kaibiles too in plain clothes and right in the middle of the village they shot him dead, run across and join the group and gone back,” he said.
“We sent a man to his death,” said the retired Belizean agent, as he recalled the words of a Kaibiles soldier who told him, “We are experts in cancelling birth certificates.”
The confessions of this retired Belizean intelligence officer call into question what role the British has played in Belize-Guatemala relations, and also is an indictment of individuals in authority in Belize who never spoke of Pedro Barrera and can be seen as guilty of endorsing Guatemala’s violence upon its own people.