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100 Belize Human Trafficking Speak Out.

Speak Out.
Mayor of San Pedro Smith and Company
Throughout our campaign, we have heard from some quarters that there is no human
trafficking problem in Belize. There are some out there who still don’t believe
that human trafficking victims are being transited through Belize to other coun
tries or into Belize to work in forced prostitution in ficha bars.
For years, we’ve been in the business of hunting and rescuing women who are vict
ims of human trafficking and who have been sent into slavery in Belize. We know
their stories and are prepared to tell them now.
Over the last five years the organization has documented and interviewed hundred
of women taken from Belize we are now going to tell their stories one every day
for a hundred days.
The first is Amelia’s story.
Amelia, a Guatemalan woman, came to San Pedro Ambergris Caye by way of Amigo’s b
ar, located in the center of town. She’d been trafficked and forced to drink wi
th men and endure forced sex night after night.
She found some comfort in a man who was a dive master at Ramón’s Village. He reg
ularly went to ficha bars looking for women. He would also scout one out from t
ime to time who he thought could look after his house and provide sex. In excha
nge, she had a room away from bar hell and had something of a home. She still
had to work at Amigo’s.
Then one night Immigration officers were out just checking the bars, or taking a
free drink with the San Pedro police. Amelia was working. found to be without
papers, she was arrested and put in San Pedro Jail. All night long, she was sex
ual harassed by the police on duty. .
The Amigo’s bar owners had her documents, a common practice with trafficked wome
n.
She hoped the bar owners would come for her. She hoped her lover from Ramón’s V
illage would come to help her. No one came. She went to court, pleaded not gui
lty and was order to be held in Hattieville for three months because she could n
ot post the $3,000 BZ bail required.
She pleaded with everyone, explaining she had papers that were held by the Amigo
’s owners. No one cared. She went to Hattieville. Within days she found her o
nly means of survival was to give in and sell herself to the guards and some of
the other prisoners. That’s the way that prison works. It makes the ficha bars
seem like a milder form of hell.
Ninety days later she was dumped on the streets of Belize and given two days to
leave. No money, just the clothes on her back. No life. No exception. They are
all treated that way.
Here’s how we found Amelia and others like her. Most had been convicted in San P
edro for the same type of crime, that is, immigration. We had a system where we
paid Hattieville guards to keep track of non-Belizean women in the queue to be
released.
We would find them just as they were being released and take them to a safe have
n in Honduras where we would help them get the documents they needed to get back
home to their families, like the one waiting for Amelia in Guatemala.
Here’s how the corrupt Belize system works. Send trafficked women to prison, wi
th Hattieville getting money on a per-day basis. Hattieville kick s back money t
o the San Pedro police chief and the magistrate. Immigration gets a little cut a
nd life goes on.
Hattieville Prison takes in over 400 human trafficking victims a year, netting t
his base institution over $400,000 (Belize) annually. They were paid $1,080 ov
er 90 days to rob Amelia of her human rights. There is no price for Amelia’s s
tory. We’re sending it out to our worldwide network free of charge.