Today, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Senator Eamon Courtenay signed an expulsion order, which ordered the detention and deportation of Alfonso Bulux (Bu-looks) Vicente. The sixty-eight-year-old, whose Belize address was Hope Creek Village in Stann Creek, had been accused of one of the Guatemalan Kaibiles. Formed in 1974, this special operations wing of the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) are involved in jungle warfare tactics and counter-insurgency operations. Bulux Vicente was a member of this group, which was responsible for the massacre of 250 residents of Dos Eres Village in December 1982. He fled to Belize and had been living here for a number of years, going almost completely unnoticed. His attorney in Belize is Orson “OJ” Elrington, who told us via Zoom today that Bulux’s extradition was illegal and is tantamount to a kidnapping orchestrated by the state.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney: “If you would recall is that there was a request for an extradition by Guatemala. So first and foremost the proper procedure would have been an extradition application. However the Government seemingly tried to circumvent that procedure required by law for extradition and tried to create an expulsion order. Either of those procedures that would have been used to attempt to hand over Mr.Vicente to the Guatemalan authorities as you would be able to appreciate would require a certain due process afforded to all persons by law. So therefore let us just examine the expulsion order since that is the mechanism which they are purportedly would have used to remove him from the jurisdiction, I won’t even say expel because that would be giving credence to the illegal act that they have done. But for an expulsion order while the Minister has the authority to request an expulsion order or to order an expulsion order that order by law must be reviewed by a magistrate. There are three ways which you can order an expulsion if a person is convicted of an offence of which clearly needs to go before a magistrate which did not happen. Secondly if there is some particular circumstance in which again that needs to go before a magistrate and third is if this person presents a threat to public safety and security which obviously is not applicable underneath this specific case because Mr.Vicente had been living in Belize for decades and not once was he ever accused of being a threat to public safety. So obviously the sole reason for the expulsion is because they wanted to illegally extradite or remove him and in this case one would definitely would want to say kidnap him. It is tantamount to state kidnapping that is what it is. They did not follow the due process, they did not allow this man to make a representation before the court, they did not even take him before a magistrate they just removed him under the cover – well not under the cover of night because they apparently did it in the day but they refused to answer calls, they had been alerted that I was his lawful attorney but they provided no notice of their actions and in fact the only time I got notice of exactly what they did is after they have handed over Mr.Vicente to the authorities.”
Elrington applied for the writ of habeas corpus to at least delay the extradition but he says that by the time he filed, Bulux was gone.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney: “We made the application and a few minutes after having made the application submitting it on the online portal we were alerted, I was just about to call madam registrar and request the emergency application before the Chief Justice. I had already made all the necessary arrangements with the courts for there to be an emergency hearing and only between the time that my assistant loaded it up to the electronic system and came back to me I was alerted of the fact that he was in the possession of the Guatemalan authorities that he had been handed over to the Guatemalan authorities. Again it was through senior officials from the police department and shortly thereafter I saw it on news outlets such as the good Love FM.”
And now that he’s back in Guatemala to face the music, Elrington adds that Bulux’s family in Belize and the US fear for his life.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney: “They have a valid fear that that might be the case if it is that his constitutional rights in such a robust democracy like Belize is violated what do you think would happen in a country which does not have the same type of robust, healthy, democracy and legal system like Belize ? So their fears are well founded but indeed their concern and the family is both in Belize and the United States and indeed there priority right now and their priority concern is the safety and security of Mr.Vicente. And indeed Dale I must point out that while these are allegations Mr.Vicente vehemently denies being involved in any such thing while he did say that and he did admit that he was a part of the Guatemalan specials forces he himself was never involved in such activity and in fact there are multiple reports from multiple international agencies which support his version of the facts which say that he was a person who allowed many persons – he was actually helpful to allow persons to be freed during those tumultuous times. As you would know Guatemala had a dark, deep history of civil unrest and genocide but he himself was never involved in such activity and multiple international sources, reliable international sources do point to that fact as well.”
The Ministry of Immigration says that the Guatemalan had applied for permanent residence, and in August 2021, the ministry requested the Belize Police Department to conduct a security clearance on Bulux Vicente. As a result of routine checks, an INTERPOL Red Notice was discovered relating to Bulux Vicente. Guatemalan counterparts confirmed to the Belize Police Department that Bulux Vicente was wanted for murder. Bulux Vicente was detained by the police and remains in custody. As a result of the Expulsion Order, Bulux Vicente was escorted to the Belize – Guatemala border and handed over to Guatemalan authorities. The Expulsion Order also bars Bulux Vicente from ever entering Belize again.