By Jem Smith
Villagers of Benque Viejo del Carmen, are outraged at the police’s response to an incident that has left one man dead. Edwin Brian Isidro, 26, was reportedly shot at by police as he waded in the Mopan River in Western Belize. This was at around 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 11 while Isidro, who was in the company of two others, was trying to make his way over to Guatemala. According to witness reports, as many as six shots were heard and it is likely that those shots scared Isidro and caused him to go under. Not only did the police shoot at them, but Benque villagers also say that they, cold-heartedly, refused to rescue Isidro as he was fighting in the water for his life. They say that the police refused to help him because they thought he was a Guatemalan, but he was, in fact, a Belizean.
According to Isidro’s family, he and the two others were making their way into Guatemala before hopefully getting into the United States. The men with whom he was traveling took off after hearing the shots but Isidro was not as lucky and drowned near the illegal crossing. While there were not any gunshot injuries on his body, there were abrasions to his face. Residents of the area say that the police never tried to retrieve Isidro’s body, and only said that they would call someone to conduct the search. It was not until some 30 minutes later that his body was found and retrieved.
The police, on the other hand, give a different account of what took place at the Mopan River on Sunday. ASP Fitzroy Yearwood, Communications Director with the Belize Police Department (BPD), say that because a life was lost the department is thoroughly investigating what took place. Contrary to what the villagers and witnesses are reporting, the police say that when they visited the area they found some men swimming. One of them reportedly hit his head and was struggling to swim. In keeping with their version of events, ASP Yearwood says that the officers and civilians immediately made attempts to assist this person but were unsuccessful. His body later showed up on the other side of the River and was examined where they found injuries consistent with a fall. The results of a post mortem examination have since revealed that his death is consistent with that of an accident and the cause of death is due to asphyxia by inhalation of fluid consistent with drowning.
By Jem Smith