On Thursday, May 12, 21-year-old, Roger Plett was taken over to the Guatemalan side near the western border with Green Hills just pass the Spanish Lookout area in the Cayo District. Plett had called the media to share his plight after he had difficulties with law enforcement officials and the Government of Belize in getting his case investigated. Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington spoke of the incident and the reports he had gotten.
“What I was told is that they were fighting fire, fire got away and the fire was moving from Belize into Guatemala territory and the Mennonites had equipment to help to stop the fire and was invited by a Guatemalan NGO to assist, to lend the equipment and they resisted and the Guatemalan NGO decided to take self help and took it from them and decided to use it to clear off the area to make sure that the fire did not go any further into Guatemala and when they finished that they gave it back. Anybody has any idea of forrest routinely especially in the earlier days when I was growing I am a country folk, a country boy so we used to cut fire paths in the early days. When you are going to burning your plantation or your milpa you cut an are of about ten or fifteen feet clean so that the fire would not jump from one farm to the next and apparently what is what the Guatemalan NGO did. Commandeered the heavy equipment and cleared the area so the fire would not continue to go into Guatemala and gave it back to Plett.”
The surprise came when Minister Elrington told the media that it was simply a case where Plett’s equipment was being borrowed to control fires in the area.
“That is not information that came to me because we were investigating it, as a matter of fact we had gotten the word that such thing had happened and we were checking with the police station and different places where we thought that there would have been a report but couldn’t get any report on it. It was days afterwards that we got the version that this is what happened, it was not that anybody was stealing the equipment I think they got back the equipment but there was fire that had gotten away and they tried to stop the fire so they commandeered it. You’re not supposed to commandeer it under the normal circumstances but I’m telling you the information that I got. I got it from our people because that is the information that I got. It wasn’t the case of anything being stolen and taken away.”
According to Plett, they did use their equipment to out the fires but it was commandeered and then it was intentionally damaged after using it.