Since the signing to amend the Special Agreement between Belize and Guatemala a few weeks ago, there has been a spike in instances involving Guatemalans in our country’s turf and waterways. Last week, we reported on the Guatemalan Armed Forces Naval vessel which ran aground on the reef at Middle Caye in the Glovers Reef Atoll and this weekend, a trio of Belizeans were detained in Guatemala.
According to reports, sometime Saturday evening, a group of five Belizeans socializing on Guatemalan soil at Santa Cruz bordering Belize's southernmost village Jalacte, were detained and escorted away by Guatemalan police to San Luis, Peten. Other Belizeans who witnessed what transpired informed the families of the individuals involved, among them Punta Gorda Town Councilor, Ashton McKenzie, teacher Ray Martinez and credit union employee, Mitchell Romero. We are told that Punta Gorda Mayor Fern Gutierrez sought the involvement of the Belize Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose officials, in consultation with their Guatemalan counterparts, secured the return of the detainees.
The men were charged with disorderly conduct and immigration offences. After being fined a total of $724.00 Belize dollars, McKenzie, Martinez and Romero were released in the company of Ambassador Said Guerra, a consular and protocol officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At around 5:30 yesterday evening, the men were in Belmopan headed to Punta Gorda. The area known as Santa Cruz is a known Belizean hotspot since visitors claim that they go to take advantage of the cheap prices on products.
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