“No” for now to removing Sarstoon restriction, says GOB

Posted: Monday, May 9, 2016. 2:38 p.m. CST

Sarstoon IslandBy Aaron Humes: While rejecting the demand made by the People’s United Party (PUP) for the immediate rescission of the Sarstoon Prohibition Regulation, the Government of Belize has announced that, quote, all non-political, legitimate Belizean civilian traffic into the restricted area will immediately be given lawful authority, under the Regulation, to proceed.

The only requirement for this, as stated in a press release issued this afternoon via Facebook, is that they check in at Belize’s Sarstoon Forward Operating Base (FOB) so that our military can confirm the legitimate nature of their use of the river.

Explaining its decision, Government states that it believes that its second objective in passing the regulation – to give an opportunity for Belizean diplomacy to work – has been reched with formal bilateral negotiations including, potentially, the Opposition, to start shortly.

While it also believes that military tensions regarding the Sarstoon are no longer as explosive as they were when the regulation was passed, it cannot guarantee that possible harm will not come to Belizeans going to the Sarstoon in organized numbers to make a political point due to high tensions with Guatemala, and until negotiations actually begin, it cannot comfortably make that conclusion.

The Belize Defence Force remains permanently at the base and also continues its regular rotation at Cadenas, most recently last Tuesday.

The Government says it also reserves the right to repeal the regulation before it expires if it sees that no sufficient further progress is being made.

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