By Aaron Humes: This past Friday there were reports that merchants in Melchor de Mencos, Peten would hold a protest targeting their leadership in Government. But the demonstration never happened.
In the weeks following the death of a Guatemalan minor in the adjacency zone on April 20th, the number of Belizean visitors to the municipality of some 23 thousand people, began to fall.
Belizeans normally visit the town to purchase cheap groceries and supplies. Our reports are that while some Belizeans have in fact been boycotting the town because of Guatemala’s claim and ramped up aggression, their greater reason for avoiding Melchor was actually fear that something could happen to them.
As we know, the news of Belizean prisoner Joseph Budna having been attacked in jail supposedly in retaliation for the minor’s death was widely reproduced here.
While we do not know why there was no demonstration, the Melchor merchants are feeling the pinch in their pockets from Belizeans staying away.
Therefore, they purchased advertisement time on OYE FM in Cayo advising Belizeans that there is no danger in visiting and shopping in Melchor. They further added that they welcomed and awaited their business. We are told this advertisement in Spanish began running last week and was signed by three entities from Melchor including a merchant’s association and police.
This past weekend, there was a customary fair in Melchor which saw a sharply reduced turnout. However, sources in authority at the border tell us that Belizeans are slowly starting to return to Melchor after being advised that it is safe to visit the municipality.
Unofficially, we are told that the revenue to Melchor from Belizean customers ascends to 5 million dollars.
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