The murder of Special Constable Dannie Conorquie by Guatemalan gunmen at the Caracol archeological site last Thursday has provoked outrage in Belize, sparking demands for the Government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow to pursue and bring the killers to justice.
Danny Conorquie was working as a tourism police officer at the Caracol site on Friday, September 26. His main concern was for the safety of the dozen or more tourists visiting this famous site, and to see that they didn’t carry off any “souvenirs.” It was a pleasant, sunny day and death by ambush was the furthest thing from his mind.
The Guatemalan pistoleros crept in from the heavy foliage around the Caracol site and seized the moment when Danny sat down under a thatched palapa kiosk. They shot him in the back stole his gun and fled before anyone could fully take in what was happening. No one had a chance to see their faces, and with dense jungle on all sides, the gunmen had no trouble escaping.
Labour leader Audrey Matura has called it an execution and demanded government action. The citizens of San Ignacio organized a protest demonstration which enlisted the support of prominent citizens, and the leaders of the Belize Unity Alliance blamed the Barrow government for being soft on Guatemala. A statement from the Toledo Alcalde Association and the Maya Leaders Alliance condemned the “barbaric act” and demanded government action in bringing the killers to justice.
From all the available information it appears that the gunmen arrived at Caracol with one purpose in mind – to kill Danny Conorquie, perhaps in retaliation for three horses which Belize authorities had impounded. The gunmen appear to be from a group of marauders who regularly plunder the Chiquibul forest reserve for ornamental xaté leaves, game meat from forest animals and rare birds.
The Police in Melchor de Mencos, the nearest town past the border, have pledged to do what they can to identify the killers, but they have not agreed to turn them over to Belize authorities. If Belize finds them first, we could apply for extradition, but Belize has no extradition treaty with Guatemala, and the prospect of any legal extradition appears dim.
The most likely upshot of this blatant border aggression is that Belize will turn up the heat on any trespassers we find, either in the Chiquibul or around the Maya reserve of Caracol, the town of Benque Viejo or the village or Arenal. With emotions this high in Belize, there is some danger of vigilante action which could result in further border deterioration.
We already know the Government of Belize will provide an adequate compensation to the family of the late Dannie Conorquie for their loss. It should also press a claim against the Government of Guatemala for a similar compensation to be paid. This is the right and rational way to go. Let there be no more bloodshed! Revenge killing is a foolish and irrational way to approach the problem because violence only begets violence. It is never a solution for people and states who practice it.
There is a good probability that others from across the border already know who these killers are and can be persuaded to tell what they know if provided with the right incentive.
Belize has to be diligent in her investigations but patient while we hunt down the killers. In this way we shall uphold the good name of Belize and show that we are a law-abiding people who value justice and fair play.