A preliminary report from the Organization of American States appears to confirm that Staff Sergeant Richard Lambey was deliberately ambushed by armed Guatemalan civilians near a watering hole in the Chiquibul forest on Holy Saturday, March 26. They apparently wanted to kill him. We hear more from BDF Commander Brigadier General David Jones, who also speaks about verifying where the Julio Alvarado shooting took place:
Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.: Well, preliminarily we have been given brief information. We have not gotten an official report from the O.A.S. in regards to Richard Lambey’s shooting incident yet. What they have confirmed preliminarily and we’ve heard preliminarily, it’s not official, that it was a deliberate ambush. They intended to kill him. They wanted to kill one of our members of our patrol. The detailed report has not been forthcoming and we are still waiting for that.
Lambey was injured but survived. Questioned as to whether the Organization of American States’ efforts to fund alternative lifestyle programs in the area has failed, General Jones says it must keep trying, and needs funds to do so.
Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.: I will say the O.A.S. activity has failed there. They have pumped tremendous amounts of money and finances and efforts to dissuade the Guatemalans from Monte Los Olivos, and not just Monte Los Olivos but from the other communities to try and stop them from coming over. We have seen progress in particular from Monte Los Olivos where people have not been coming over, unfortunately there will always be a small faction within the community who want to venture over to greener pastures which Belize provides. So it only shows that the efforts of the O.A.S. needs to continue because if their funding has dried out, the efforts to continue to dissuade those people are going to stop
In related news, with all that is going on, how does the BDF engage their Guatemalan counterparts, who have reinforced strength in the Petén by 500? General Jones says their rules of engagement have not changed. In addition to hoping that the Guatemalans keep their people in the 35 communities of the area from coming over, the BDF intends to treat each situation according to what is happening:
Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, B.D.F. If they’re without firearms and they are not aggressive with the patrol our soldiers treat them humanely, but when they attack or aggress our patrol, especially with firearms our patrols are going to return fire. So our rules of engagement is not going to change. As long as we are fired upon, as long as our lives are in danger we are going to respond and unfortunately there may be fatalities if such incidences do occur.