Belize protests Guatemalan incursion at Sarstoon Island
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
Thursday, August 20th 2015.Aaron Humes Reporting: The Government of Belize says it has taken action over the fact that armed forces of the Guatemalan navy entered Belizean waters in order to prevent unarmed Belizeans, members of the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV), from attempting to access Sarstoon Island on Sunday last. A protest note was sent to Guatemalan authorities by the Government following today’s meeting of the National Security Council in Belize City.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that based on the initial reports by the Chief Observer from the Organization of American States (OAS) Magdalena Talamas, who was with the Belizean vessels, to Belizean Ambassador Stewart Leslie, the Guatemalans’ actions overrode any of our own inadvertent ones. Their navy entered Belizean waters at the mouth of the Sarstoon River in a clear attempt to head off the Belizean vessels.
However, the Government continues to appeal to the BTV not to return to the area, saying that their point has been made and that their patriotism is inspirational, and that they should not continue to put anyone in danger. The Prime Minister said that “it could not be right” to have women and children in the center of a potential tinderbox such as might be occasioned. Once was enough; the BTV, he said, should not tempt fate a second time. However, in the event they did, the Government would do as it did this time: employ diplomatic and non-military channels to keep an eye on the expedition.
Going back to the report, we asked Prime Minister Barrow why it was necessary to only provide a summary and why the entire report could not be made immediately available. He told us that subject to a check with the diplomats that could be made so, but he is of the opinion that it will not provide any clearer view of who was where at what time on Sunday.
And even in the face of what happened in the Sarstoon on Sunday, the Prime Minister insisted to us when we questioned whether a “no-go” zone had been established that whatever portion of the river is Belize’s is free for travel and exploration, not just for the BTV, but for all Belizeans.
The Prime Minister said he would be meeting with members of the BTV’s northern arm, the Northern Territorial Volunteers, on Thursday.
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