Thursday, August 20th 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: There are many dimensions to the handling of the incident in the Sarstoon and one of them concerns military relations between Belize and Guatemala. Prime Minister Barrow told today’s gathering that one of the reasons why the BTV’s intervention was not needed is that the military, facing severe pressure, are more trained and capable of defending that portion of Belize.
But if that is so, why were the Belize Defence Force and Coast Guard leashed from escorting the BTV’s boats? Rear Admiral John Borland, the Commander of the Coast Guard, insists that while their presence may have escalated affairs, they were never far away. They oversaw the maritime safety and travel aspect and in fact had contact with the BTV at their staging point in Barranco, where they stayed posted. He later said that the Coast Guard have not come into contact with any Guatemalan counterpart in their sphere of administration within Belizean territory.
As for the BDF, Commander Brigadier General David Jones says the weekly relief of his soldiers at Cadenas in the west was put off to next week and he has spoken to his opposite number to ensure no trouble. But on the issue of the forward operating base planned for the area, the General now says they may consider other options on the mainland rather than at Sarstoon Island, which was checked over earlier this year and which provoked the first stand-off between the two countries. It appears there are logistical concerns with a permanent base at the marshy, swampy island or even nearby on the mainland, and so caution is being exercised moving forward.
On the matter of the base General Jones says they welcome a quick end to the settlement of the issue as they do consider it to be important strategically.
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