BELMOPAN, Belize -- Belize lodged a protest with the military rulers of Guatemala over the 'callous and barbarous' murder of a Guatemalan by gunmen from the neighboring country.
The government of Belize charged Tuesday gunmen in civilian clothes murdered Pedro Barrera, a Guatemalan civilian, in the village of Arenal, 6 miles south of the town of Benque Viejo del Carmenon on the Belize-Guatemalan border.
The gunmen crossed into Belize with the apparent intention of abducting Barrera, gunned him down Sunday and made an unsuccessful attempt to remove the body to Guatemala, a government communique said.
The communique also charged uniformed Guatemalan soldiers ac:ompanied the gunmen to the border, watched the killing and rejoined them on their return to Guatemala.
In the protest note sent to the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry, Belize said it 'requests the Guatemalan government take any necessary steps which this situation demands.'
A copy of the protest was also lodged with the U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.
Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, gained its independence from Britain in 1981 but British soldiers remain in the tiny nation as protection against Guatemalan territorial claims.
Wedged in between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean, Belize is 50 percent Protestant and the only country in Central America where English is the official language.
Guatemala maintained two vacant seats in its congress for its 'province' until the military government that came to power in March 1982 disbanded the legislature.