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Latino Daily News

Wednesday January 12, 2011

Did Jamaica’s Military Kill Honduran Fishermen?  Honduras Thinks So.

On January 10, Jamaica rejected allegations that its coastguard used excessive force when attempting to stop a Honduran fishing boat January 7.

The incident took place close to Jamaica, in lobster- and conch-rich waters. The captain was fatally shot and two crew members were wounded.

The Security minister of Jamaica, Dwight Nelson said the coastguard patrol spotted the Honduran fishing ship near the Pedro Cays, a distant area South of Jamaica.

Nelson said the vessel took off at full speed when the Jamaican boat approached, so coastguards chased the fishermen, who ignored several pleas to stop the vessel. A warning shot was fired across the bow, Nelson said.

Then the Honduran ship appeared to be trying to ram the patrol boat, forcing officers to shoot at the engine room, Nelson said.  Rear Adm. Juan Pablo Rodriguez of the Honduran Navy claimed that the Jamaican military used excessive force and unjustifiably attacked fishermen from Honduras, who didn’t fire a single shot on Friday night.

Nelson disputed those accusations during a radio interview and said coast guard officers had enough grounds to shoot “disabling fire” at the engine room of the fishing ship, since it appeared to be on course to collide into the smaller patrol boat in Jamaican waters.

“We will reject any notion that extraordinary force was used in this situation,” Nelson said. “We will not concede that we did anything wrong at all.”

Honduran Deputy Foreign Minister Mireya Agüero said officials from both nations are expected to meet in Miami in the next few days to try to resolve their differences.