While Nige and I were enjoying ourselves in Hopkins two weeks ago, a 13 year old girl named Jasmine Lowe was kidnapped and murdered here in San Ignacio Town. The horrific crime reminded me a lot of the senseless acts that used to go on in the United States all the time, which I saw on the news all too often.
Unlike the U.S. though, where you tend to get desensitized to it because of how often it occurs, something like this in Cayo is very rare, and it has caused a huge amount of outrage by the citizens of our twin cities (San Ignacio and Santa Elena). Several protests and rallies have been held since her death, and the public wanted the police to know that they want action. That they want this creature caught so their daughters can once again walk the streets and be safe.
On Monday, a monster named Bert Vasquez was arrested, after several girls came forward saying he was driving around town that day, offering them $30 bze to get in his car because he was lost and couldn’t find certain locations. Luckily, all of them were smart enough not to get in the car, and their parents took them to the police to report it. In no time at all, the description of his car was released, and he was found (allegedly with a young girl in the car) and arrested.
After searching his car, they found young Jasmine’s ring, which her mother has positively identified (they have other evidence too, which they’re not releasing). Thus began a town vigil, where literally hundreds of people gathered in front of the San Ignacio Police Station and Court House, demanding “Justice for Jasmine.” Vasquez was supposed to be arraigned in the afternoon, so Nige and I went to support the community and Jasmine’s family and have our voices heard as well.
The scene was amazing! I’d really never witnessed anything like it in my life. About 500 people were there, lining the streets and standing on balconies. They literally had to close the Hawkesworth Bridge down and stop all traffic in that area.
The Special Police Force was there for crowd control, and eventually they asked everyone to move off the front steps and parking lot area of the courthouse so that they could bring the prisoner from his cell to the Magistrate for his arraignment. Everyone complied, but I honestly thought when they walked him out all hell might break loose and people may try to attack him, because folks were mad!
But that didn’t happen. Everyone stayed put, but the screaming and yelling at him as he was escorted from one building to the next was deafening. He was charged with murder and is being held without bail, thank goodness.
Crime happens everywhere in the world, even in Cayo. But I was proud of my fellow citizens for making sure their voices were heard loud and clear, and not stooping to the level of the criminal by committing any more crimes. I certainly hope this guy gets the key thrown away.
Have you ever been involved in a protest like this before?