Wednesday June 17th, 2015. BMG: Tecum Uman, the Guatemalan gunboat that was stuck on our reef, has been allowed to travel back to its country without having to pay for the damages it caused.
The vessel reportedly experienced mechanical problems before crashing into the reef just outside of Middle Caye and was unable to move. This incident occurred on Wednesday of last week and the Guatemalan vessel remained lodged on the reef in Belizean waters until Saturday when a Guatemalan tug boat was able to pull it off and tow it back to Puerto Barrios.
Despite it being removed, Belizeans are not standing idly by. Many concerned individuals and conservation organizations have asked why this Guatemalan vessel was not detained and allowed to leave Belizean waters without paying for the damages it caused to the reef as per normal procedure.
Audrey Wallace, C.E.O in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had some answers when she spoke to the media yesterday, saying that a final assessment of the damages was being conducted and would have been completed by yesterday evening, after which the findings would be turned over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for further action.
Wallace went on to say that there appears to be minimal damage to the reef and that the Guatemalan Vessel was protected by “sovereign immunity”, hence the reason it could not be detained or arrested. International laws permit vessels to pass through our waters without announcement and furthermore, the Government saw no need to detain this vessel.
In regards to paying for the damages caused to our reef, Wallace said: “What we did was serve notice of our intention to seek compensation for the damages once the assessment is complete and so we await that assessment and as we get that we will act on it with the Guatemalan authorities.”
An official release from the G.O.B has not been issued about the incident as yet.
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