By Aaron Humes: While responding to a media question about why Belize seemed slow off the block to get its version of events last Wednesday in the Chiquibul, Prime Minister Dean Barrow revealed that the dead teenager, 13 year old Juan Jose Alvarado Ruano, had been to Belize before.
BDF patrols had sent the young boy back to Guatemala after discovering him in Belizean territory before, said the Prime Minister, who added that the detail had not been revealed out of respect for the family and to avoid sympathy for the teenager, who was in Belize illegally.
The Prime Minister conceded that Belize was slow but pointed out that it would not have made much difference: “media sensationalism” would have ensured that the “sexier” Guatemalan version would be the one that made headlines.
Brigadier General David Jones, Commander of the Belize Defence Force, spoke for the first time about the incident, maintaining that his soldiers fired, in the dark, in defence of their lives.
In response to Guatemalan charges that 10 civilians, including minor Ruano, had been killed in seventeen years in various clashes with the BDF, Jones said that each subsequent investigation found that the soldiers involved acted in self-defence.
General Jones seemed to take little offense at suggestions by Guatemala and others that the BDF needed more “training.”