Belize now has its first political kidnapping. In what certainly marks the beginning of a new, darker era for Belize, Derek Aikman, 47, a former UDP Minister of government and now a prominent social activist, was kidnapped late yesterday evening. At press time tonight, police do not know where he is or who the kidnappers are.
Aikman called the Wake Up Belize (WUB) morning show on Radio KREM at about 8:08, and told shocked hosts Evan “Mose” Hyde and Kalilah Enriquez, in a voice trembling with emotion, that he had been kidnapped and that his kidnappers, three of them, were threatening to kill him if the BTL Vesting Bill that went to the Senate that very morning, was not passed.
Actually, Aikman’s words on the threat of murder were not clear – “ … the bottom line is, Mose, they are saying if they don’t, (short pause) if they pass the BTL thing whatever, it’s a loss for me. They’re going to kill me.”
When Kalilah attempted to clarify the ambiguity, however, Aikman was cut off. We attribute the confusion in Aikman’s statement to the intense pressure he was under the call was placed. He was, in fact, under the threat of death.
“They wah tek whe the phone. I only have two minutes. I just want to tell my wife and kids that I love them and if she could please ask Dr. Godinez to please say something that I need my thyroid medication because they are not giving me any food, only water, and I need my thyroid medication. I am not afraid and I am not frightened, but the bottom line is Mose, they are saying if they don’t, (short pause) if they pass the BTL thing whatever, it’s a loss for me. They’re going to kill me,” Aikman told the WUB’s shocked listeners.
As the United Democratic Party’s Freetown candidate, Aikman beat then Prime Minister George Price in the general elections in 1984, an incredible feat for the young politician.
In what may be one of the few times both political parties colluded on the elimination of a threat, the UDP and the PUP worked to ensure that Aikman lost his seat in late 1992 by being declared a bankrupt when the Belize Bank, uncharacteristically, called his loan, which he could not service in its entirety.
Derek Aikman was keeping a low profile until the last few weeks when he began conducting polls regarding the Universal Health Services motion that Prime Minister Said Musa said he intended to pass in the House of Representatives. The poll results were hugely unfavourable to the ruling PUP.
Aikman’s polls, although not conducted countrywide for lack of personnel to man the stations, were done by voters inking their fingers and voting almost exactly as they would for general elections. The polls showed that over 95 per cent of voters demanded that Prime Minister Said Musa not use Belizean taxpayers’ money to pay Michael Ashcroft’s Belize Bank a $33 million loan taken out by the owners of Universal Health Services, a loan which Musa had secretly guaranteed.
Aikman had said after the results were released that he intended to conduct the polls in the rest of the country.
Derek Aikman was returning from church in Hattieville on Sunday night when he was kidnapped on his way home to Burrell Boom. Police said that they have found Aikman’s vehicle, a gold Nissan Pathfinder, abandoned in the Fresh Pond area of Burrell Boom.
Derek Aikman’s doctor, a Dr. Godinez, later called the KREM Radio show, pleading to the kidnappers to release Aikman because he is in need of his medication. Godinez said that presently Aikman is taking a medication called Synthroip and in some cases the alternative, which is called Thiopsin. The Synthroip is taken a pill a day, said Dr. Godinez and he needs to get one today, because it is critical that he takes one every day. The other medication that he was taking was Metamorphine, of which he takes two 500-milligram tablets every 8 hours. With that, Godinez said that he could not remember the other medication, but said that those are the most important ones. He also said that Aikman needs to drink a lot of fluids so as not to run into problems with his diabetes.
Derek Aikman’s wife, Kim, told police that she received a call from her husband around 8:30 last night, Sunday, saying that he had been kidnapped. She said that he told her where he was when three masked men took him, leaving his vehicle behind. He told his wife that his vehicle was left behind in the Fresh Pond area. Police said that they searched the area and that is where they found the Pathfinder.
Kim said that the last time she saw her husband was sometime around 4:00 p.m. on Sunday when he left to go to church.
Today, the bill over which Aikman said the kidnappers threatened him with death, was passed in the Senate by a majority of 6-5.