Authorities from the Ministry of Human Development, the Belize Police Department among other agencies are looking into an incident that occurred over the weekend where a two year old little girl was reportedly taken from her mother by a member of Social Services with the assistance of the Orange Walk Police. The family of the little girl accompanied by their attorney, Marcel Cardona were at the Belize Family Court this morning seeking redress on the matter. We take you back to Friday, the 13th as the mother relives that day when her daughter was taken as her estranged spouse has alleged that she had taken the child illegally from Guatemala.
ANALIZ GUTIERREZ (Mother)
“We got reports that he had stated that I was abducting my daughter and was illegally bringing her over to the country to my home country under the fact that he is stating that we had both custody which is not so. Right now basically what happened was on Friday the 13th in the evening, unidentified social workers went to my home and picked her up, no information was given to me, no stamped sealed documents were given to me proving that such actions were legal.”
While the Social Services officer was in Gutierrez’ home, she was informed of the allegation that she had taken the child illegally. But Gutierrez denies the allegations as she says that the courts in Guatemala had given her custody of the child and she has never tried keeping the baby away from him.
“She went on mentioning that the father of my daughter had reopened a case that had been closed already in Guatemala and had attained a court order for the Belizean embassy to locate and retrieve my daughter and have her taken back and presented in front of a Guatemalan Judge. I was shocked because I had already gone through a legal procedure in Guatemala and had already gotten that case closed and under the documents that were provided and under legal advice I had been told I had permission to travel to my home country and that it was not out of the question. Not only that but the father of my daughter was well aware that from the moment that I got into the country that I was here with her and communication, I had gone to the extent of trying to have communication with him even though he had stated that he would not provide any financial support for her I still did not deny his rights as the father to be in contact with her and to visit her here and to talk to her over the phone through any type of media. Despite all my attempts all of them were ignored or unsuccessful from his side so I was very shocked and surprised that this had gotten to the state that it has gotten to.”
As we mentioned, Cardona is the mother’s attorney and he spoke to us on what transpired in the Belize Family Court this morning.
“This morning there was an application by the Department of Human Services through its attorney Ms. Melissa Balderamos Malher for an interim custody order to be granted to the Department of Human Services for the period effective today’s date through to the 15th of January 2016 and the order was granted and during this period we were made to understand that the father of the child shall be attending in Belize in the company of his attorneys to argue the case that the Hague Convention on the International Abduction of Children that his application under that should be upheld and that the child should be therefore sent back to Guatemala to be dealt with in accordance with Guatemalan law as to whether he should have custody or the mother should have custody. In the interim for the next two months the child shall be in the care and control of the Department of Human Services.”
Cardona went on to speak of a volatile relationship the mother had had with the child’s father whilst living in Guatemala, leading to her return home to Belize.
“My client acted perfectly as any normal human being would have acted. It’s my instruction that she is the victim of domestic abuse, she had been before a Guatemalan court on the issue and the Guatemalan court had granted her a guardianship/ custody over the child and acting upon instructions from or advice from her Guatemalan attorney she came across the border with her child seeking the comfort, the support because battered women and women that suffer from domestic abuse go through psychological problems and obviously in Guatemala she could not receive that kind of support since she has very few persons there that can offer that to her and she came back to Belize where she has all of her family, all of her grandparents, her mother and relatives and she came seeking that sort of emotional support to get through that trauma of domestic abuse. She came here accompanied by her child, she came across the Belize Western Border in the month of March of this year, that was days after she had received that order from the court in Guatemala and since then she has been here. If subsequent to that the ex-common law husband has received any further order of any other court indicating that he was granted custody that would have been subsequent of that fact, the fact of her crossing the border.”
Following this morning’s hearing, Gutierrez told us that she is satisfied knowing that her daughter will not be taken out of the country. Meanwhile Cardona told us that they had managed to make recommendations to the court this morning to have the child returned to a family member as opposed to staying with persons she is not familiar with.
“We were advised that we would be able to get a hold of that information and that everything would have been explained here in the family court. We were able to speak in front of a judge and accompanied with other attorneys for the Human Development Department and I was satisfied with the results because I am calmer now that my daughter is safe, that she is not being sneaked out of the country.”
“Recommendations were made by myself to the court to have, because the child has been taken away to an unknown location taken away and given into the custody of persons that she is not acquainted with , unfamiliar faces, so I did submit to the court that I thought it was in the best interest of the child for the court or the Department of Human Services to consider having the temporary foster care or custody of the child delivered to perhaps someone who is close to the family but would be responsible enough to abide by whatever court order and so certainly this morning the Department of Human Services indicated that they would be prepared to perhaps consider recommendations of persons who the child might feel more comfortable with since maybe they have had previous contact with the child and who at the same time would be responsible enough to ensure the safe return to court of that child whenever the court so orders.”
Later in our newscast we will bring you an interview with the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Human Development, Judith Alpuche, who spoke to us on the how the entire situation got blown up, thus creating a frenzy on the social media.