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Forward Operating Base to be built; politicians split on civilian defense role

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: In his Independence Day address Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed that a Forward Operating Base will be built on the north bank of the Sarstoon River, but gave no other details. DEAN barrow 1

This comes on the heels of the Belize Territorial Volunteers and other civil society supporters forcing the issue of security at the Sarstoon into the daily perspective and directly confronting the Government on its plans.

In his address, Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition, discusses the August 16 trip to Sarstoon Island by the BTV: “This spirit of unity and sense of purpose was on full display for all the world to see just a month ago on August sixteenth when a group of some two hundred Belizeans under the banner of the Belize Territorial Volunteers gathered in Barranco, Toledo and journeyed to the Southernmost boundary of Belize on the Sarstoon. This journey was a peaceful, powerful statement that Belize, all of Belize, from Rio Hondo to Sarstoon, from our cays and atolls to our Western Border is ours to protect and defend.”

Prime Minister Barrow hit back, shunning the BTV’s attempt to get involved: “This is a sovereignty that Government and all our security forces, as a matter of first principle and existential duty, will always wholly maintain. But we do not need civilians, however well-intentioned, to complicate matters. In flashpoint situations, preservation of the sovereignty and security equation must be left to our trained, professional, and highly skilled military; a military that has time and again demonstrated its ability to take care of business and perform at a level out of all proportion to its small size.”

The BTV has said it will continue its efforts along with partner the Northern Territorial Volunteers (NTV).

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