The OAS and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Wilfred Elrington’s response to last Wednesday’s shooting death of a Guatemalan logger sparked a fiery COLA protest, during which the vocal NGO labeled Elrington a “Traitor,” before burning photographs of him and replicas of the OAS flag.
COLA (Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action) held the demonstration in front of the Organization of American States (OAS)’s office on Blue Marlin Drive, on Wednesday, July 25.
Attended by all of its executive officers, the demonstration, according to COLA’s president Giovanni Brackett, was to show that Belizeans are unhappy with the remarks made in two OAS press releases regarding the death of Guatemalan logger Luis Alberto Martinez Alonzo.
In its press release, issued from OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, the OAS Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, said:
“The death of a person in a shoot out is always reprehensible and I hope that the circumstances in which this occurred are cleared up promptly.”
Brackett told reporters that both Guatemalans and Belizean authorities have confirmed that the shooting occurred 3.2 kilometers within Belizean territory, yet there has not been a categorical apology from the OAS that stated that the incident occurred within the Adjacency Zone.
Brackett said that to make matters worse, Elrington’s delicate response to OAS statements, in not demanding a retraction, in their view, is an act of betrayal of the Belizean people, whose rights he ought to be defending.
“If we were to leave this OAS statement alone, we don’t know how it will impact us if we go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ),” he said. “Belize may not be an Israel or a United States, but we are (still) a sovereign nation.”
Brackett, referencing to one of Elrington’s earlier statements in which he described the Belizean borders with Guatemala as “artificial,” went as far as to say that if Elrington’s allegiance is with Guatemala, he should move there.
Brackett pointed out that after the incident, Guatemalan officials held a press conference with its people; Belize’s minister of foreign affairs, however, has not.
Brackett said that he hopes that COLA’s protest would evoke some sort of dignity on the part of the OAS for them to retract the statement.
Other members of COLA’s executive that were present included Jihad McLaren, Director of Security; Rufus X; Leroy Usher Jr. and others.
Subsequent to th eprotest CEO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an interview with LoveFM, said that Belize’s Ambassador to the OAS had already called on the OAS to make a correction, and the OAS Secretary General had said that they had no ill intentions in the release and that the use of the word “reprehensible” was a mistranslation, when the release was translated from Spanish to English.