There is widespread speculation that the Thursday night murder of cab driver and activist, Albert Cattouse, 72, was a political hit.
But Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Elodio Aragon, Jr., told the press on Friday that such speculation was “outrageous.” Aragon went on to say that he believes he understands what transpired, but he declined going into details.
At around 7 o’clock on Thursday night, as Cattouse was driving his vehicle on Hicattee Street near the Rogers Stadium in Belize City, heading from West Collet Canal towards Dolphin Street, two men on a motorcycle pulled up beside him and one of them fired several shots. Cattouse was hit in the head. When police arrived on the scene they found him slumped over the steering wheel of his Lincoln Town Car, which was in a drain with its engine still running. Cattouse had not been robbed of any of his possessions, nor had there been any exchange between him and his killer, according to our sources.
Cattouse was a firebrand activist and faithful member of the Citizens Organized For Liberty Through Action (COLA). One week before his death, he joined the protest against increased fuel prices.
According to his niece, Bernadette Cattouse, her uncle was not feeling well; he was experiencing difficulties with his kidneys, and so he was at home. However, he received a call and he headed out, to the area where he was gunned down.
His death has caused an outpour of emotions from the activist community. COLA president, Geovanni Brackett; COLA former president, Moses Sulph, and Perry “Sticks” Smith of the Days of Healing Community, among others, have all gone on the record demanding justice for their fallen colleague.
On Friday, the Belize Leaders for Social Justice (BLSJ) issued a release lashing out against the murder. The BLSJ described the shooting as a despicable and cowardly murder of a human rights defender and local activist. “The Activism Community and Human Rights Defenders are concerned that this murder can be related to Mr. Cattouse’s outspoken condemnation for acts of corruption and the Injustices levied on our citizens by the Government of Belize,” said the release.
It added, “This heinous act once again underscores the urgent need for Belizeans to unite against a proven corrupt government, the continuation of which only benefits cronies, and Ministers of Government. We call on all Belizeans to strongly reject this and all acts of violence and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat.”
Belize Leaders for Social Justice is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of this dastardly crime.
The Belize Progressive Party (BPP) also issued a statement on Friday, expressing its concern over what it considered, “yet another senseless murder.”
The BPP called Cattouse’s murder a national tragedy. They described the senior citizen as “a true born Belizean who unflinchingly stood up for what he believed, which distinguished him as being one of the few activists who did so without fear”. The BPP called on the Belize Police Department to work diligently to bring Cattouse’s murderer to justice.
Cattouse had operated a taxi from the Albert Street Taxi Stand for an indefinite period.