I don’t think there is any danger for anyone in discussing a sensational security incident that happened twenty seven years ago. It is appropriate to discuss this with you, for the record, so that you Belizeans do not underestimate the training and abilities of our security forces in Belize.
Sometime in 1992, I believe, a Salvadoran revolutionary of sorts got into the El Salvador embassy in Belmopan and took the ambassador, a lady, hostage.
I’m fairly sure that the late Gerald Garbutt was the manager of KREM Radio at the time, and we at the radio and newspaper on Partridge Street were alerted that the kidnapper was travelling to Belize City with his hostage.
The drama finally climaxed around Mile 11 or so on the Western Highway (as the George Price Highway was known at the time), and we from Kremandala were on the scene. The Belize security personnel were on the western side of the road, I believe, and the kidnapper was holding his hostage about 150, 200 yards off the eastern side of the road. That much I’m sure of, the eastern side position of the kidnapper with his hostage. The distance, I’m “guesstimating.”
We from Kremandala were within 75, 100 yards (again “guestimating”) of our security forces, behind their position, watching and listening. The kidnapper had a sheet or towel of some kind in place so that he and his victim were not visible, and he was not exposed to any sniper fire from our security people. I can’t give you precise details, beloved, but the kidnapper made some kind of mistake where a Belize security sniper got a shot at him, just one shot, and he took out the kidnapper, thus saving the Salvadoran ambassador from fate unknown.
There was never any publicity about that very dramatic episode, the request for silence from Belize’s government authorities apparently being for the purpose of not encouraging any kind of retaliation from the kidnapper’s regional friends.
I don’t remember who pointed out the sniper, who is a senior police officer today, to me at the time in 1992.
After all the years, I finally got a chance to verify the story with him personally a couple months ago when the police were doing high profile duty at the ICJ injunction hearings one afternoon at the Treasury Building. We spoke in a coded language, but I am satisfied that the gentleman confirmed the story I had heard twenty seven years ago.
I regret he was never given any public recognition for an act of exceptional marksmanship under the greatest of pressure, the ambassador being just inches away from the kidnapper at the time.
P. S. On further reflection, I have to point out that this drama may have occurred in 1991.