Friday, April 29, 2011

From tough day to worse week

In my last post, I specifically did not mention how the guy died.  Even though his death was quite unusual, the manner of death did not matter to why I wrote the post.  But, given what has happened the rest of the week, how he died has become important.  On Monday, he committed suicide by hanging himself in his hotel room.  He was not discovered until Wednesday.  On Thursday, I had to attempt to identify him for the coroner.

While Belize does have some ability to keep bodies refrigerated (some countries don't), the deceased was too far gone by the time he was found.  His body was, in the words of the coroner, "in advance stages of decomposition."  To be perfectly honest, I didn't know this could happen to the human body.  Out of respect for the deceased, I am not going to go into details.  I was not, however, able to make a confirmed identification and we had to take fingerprints to verify his identity.

When I returned to the office on Thursday, I learned that we had two Americans arrested in southern Belize.  One of them was a fugitive from the US.  Belize ranks number two in the entire world for fugitive returns to the U.S.  So, this in itself was not unusual.  What made this case unusual was that they entered Belize on passports from the Conch Republic.  They also entered Belize by boat.  Then, last night, our duty officer got a phone call from the Belize Police Department to inform us that the male arrested had hung himself from the boat when they went there to secure the boat.  That's right - two U.S. fugitives commit suicide by hanging in one week.

In addition to dealing with these two cases, we had the other woman arrested on the boat, the juvenile arrested last weekend, and our normal flow of passports and CRBAs.  Additionally, today was Take Your Kids to Work Day, so we had 20 kids in the section for 45 minutes this morning.  At lunch today, I discovered that my rear passenger window had dropped into the door and wouldn't roll up, so I had to take my car in to the shop (they rigged the window to keep it up, but I have to order the part and they will install it later).

After lunch, we got a call from an American with severe medical issues.  In order for her to receive blood from the blood bank for her surgery, she needed to have friends or family donate an equal amount to the blood bank (this is apparently normal procedure in Belize) and she did not have anyone here to donate.  We worked on her case most of the afternoon, as three emergency passports came in.  One of these was easy, but the other two were adults who had never had U.S. passports (this is very unusual).  They both wanted to leave tomorrow, but we could not confirm their citizenship and won't be able to do anything until we return from our three day weekend on Tuesday.

Finally, half of our consular officers are out of the country and we are short one FSN (out of five total) and this made for a very difficult week.  The rest of the staff has really pitched in and I owe a great deal to them.  FSNs really are the lifeblood of an Embassy and without such a great staff I would not have been able to make it through this week.  Here's hoping next week is quiet so that we can catch up on all the paperwork that this week has generated.

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