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Guatemala-Belize Border Tensions Flare After Shooting

LADB Article ID: 79977
Category/Department: Region
Date: 2016-05-12
By: Louisa Reynolds

A shooting incident on April 20 in which a Guatemalan teenager died has re-ignited a long-standing border dispute between Guatemala and Belize. Twenty-four hours after 13-year-old Julio René Alvarado Ruano was killed, Guatemala deployed 3,000 troops to the border with Belize, leading to an escalation in tensions between the two countries. The Guatemalan government says Alvarado Ruano, his father, and his 11-year-old brother were attacked as they planted crops in the border community of San José Las Flores, on the border between the department of Petén and Belize. The Belizean authorities, on the other hand, say its security forces were investigating illegal land clearing in the Cebada area of the Chiquibul National Park in western Belize when they detained a Guatemalan man suspected of illicit activities. An official statement said the patrol came under fire around nightfall and shot back in self-defense. Before leaving the area, just inside Belizean territory, the soldiers allegedly found the teenager’s body, which was taken to Belize City for an autopsy. The Belizean government also stressed that its soldiers were accompanied by members of a Belizean conservation group when the incident occurred.

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