Saturday 15th August 15, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Sunday’s expedition by the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) will go ahead despite official disapproval from the Government of Belize.
The trip to Sarstoon Island, the last Belize-claimed landmass within our defined territory, is fraught with tension considering past encounters between the Belize Territorial Volunteers and Guatemalan military personnel.
The Government has steadfastly refused to provide official permission or protection for BTV-funded tours, citing security risks. But the Volunteers have accused the Government in turn of cowardice and selling out to Guatemala.
Neither the Belize Defence Force nor Coast Guard will escort or otherwise play a role in the journey, however, Admiral John Borland told reporters that they will keep an eye on the boats for possible overcrowding.
Nevertheless the expedition claims a blessing from a higher source – the Roman Catholic Church. Monsignor Dorrick Wright, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Belize, hosted the expedition co-leader Orlando de la Fuente in Belize City and offered prayers for a safe journey. An on-site blessing was scheduled, but due to health complications this will not be possible. De La Fuente thanked the Bishop and commended Senator Lisa Shoman for agreeing to attend and suggested that other political leaders are welcome.
As for the Church’s official position, Bishop Wright disdained the claim, saying “It’s going to hurt us in the end.” As for going to the International Court of Justice to resolve it, he did not come down one way or another but stated, “I support in a quiet way the move for them to leave us alone. Let us flourish as a country. Ask God to prosper the work of our hands in this country, but please leave us alone. No need for us to invade each other.”
He cited the late Pope John Paul II’s advice given while in Guatemala for the Canonization of Brother Pedro Bethancourt, namely, quote, “that we work things out peacefully, that the days are over when we do not invade one another and we do not attacked one another, but work things out peacefully with one another and I would suggest that that is the best way, so long as advantage is not taken of us or we take advantage of the Guatemalans.” End quote.
The group will leave from Barranco around 9:00 in the morning and should reach the disembarkation point, a sandbar in front of the island, about half an hour later. Those attending are informed that they will get wet as the area is mostly mangrove and swamp.
Belize Media Group will have on-site coverage throughout Sunday.
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