Letter to the Editor: Beware Standing by a Principle in Belize!
Monday, April 13th, 2015
I refer to articles “Local Rates vs Tourist Rates” and “Sticking it to the Rich Man”, The San Pedro Sun, April the 4th.
My wife and I were in Belize for a short while, in the event shorter than anticipated, earlier this year. By no means rich, we had worked and saved hard to earn our holiday and, pensioners of 77 and 73 respectively, travelling independently, using small hotels and local transport we had set out to sample the experiences that Belize had to offer, meet some of the people and enjoy our modest holiday.
On February the 3rd, during a bus journey from Belize City to San Ignacio we were overcharged our fare. Naturally I resented this assumption that a foreigner offers to the venal an opportunity for making “a little on the side”, never mind his abuse of his employers’ trust. I took practical action. At the Belmopan bus station I explained to the driver what his colleague had done, removed a key from his panel and promised to return it when I was refunded the overcharge. I expected the matter to be rapidly resolved.
How wrong I was! It was immediately demonstrated to me how rapidly, in Belmopan at least, police action is resorted to in order to resolve a minor squabble. The bus was immediately driven to a local sub police station. Inside the station an officer, considerably taller than me and about half my age, who later claimed to be 901 (he wasn’t wearing his number tags) held me by the throat against a wall whilst repeatedly shouting at me, (the F word was prominent) before bundling me roughly into a toilet. While this took place officer 1506 Mitchell was repeatedly shouting at my wife. I surrendered the key.
Later, outside the station the vindictive 1506 Mitchell resisted my noting her shoulder number. In order to render it visible, I touched her right side number tag; just a light touch, not a press, not a push; I didn’t touch her shirt or any part of her body; I was immediately arrested and charged with assault! I spent the night held in the Belmopan Central Police Station; in court the following morning I was fined two hundred and five Belize dollars, confirmation of the questionable distinction between the Law and Justice, in Belmopan at least!
My liberty regained and having learned to our cost the perils of encountering the Belize police we left the country by the shortest possible route never to return. I never did recover the full amount of the overcharge. Guatemala was super.
This account relates only the bare bones of a sorry experience; there are always two sides to a story. The full account is much more wordy. However, I have written to both the Belize Commissioner of Police and the Mayor of Belmopan, neither of whom have had the courtesy to respond; I feel justified therefore in attaching a copy of that letter to this e-mail. For those interested in detailed accounts of the apparently well documented readiness of the Belize Police Service to resort to brutal tactics I recommend the Facebook page “Exposing the Belize Police”.
Would I do it again? Yes!
Tenbury Wells, England
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