Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017. 11:49 a.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: The Belize Network of NGOs (BNN) said today in a release that it is gravely concerned about the encroachment of Guatemalan Armed Forces into Belizean territory over the past weekend.
The BNN said that this act of belligerence by the GAF is unacceptable, and endangers the safety of Belizean citizens who have the right to move freely within Belizean waters.
The release noted that the eco-challenge done by the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) was done in an effort to bring awareness to the illegal and unsustainable fishing in the Sarstoon/Barranco area.
“The event included a canoe and kayak race from Barranco to Sarstoon Island and back. At all times, participants, safety personnel and organizers were within Belizean territory. But upon arriving at the mouth of the Sarstoon River, the Belizeans were confronted by five GAF gunboats. The Guatemalan gunboats moved back and forth several times in an apparent effort to intimidate the paddlers and the support boats,” the release explains.
According to the BNN, the Guatemalan authorities entered Belizean waters in the presence of the Belize military. Despite this show of unnecessary aggression, the paddlers continued on the race route and more than 75 Belizeans had an opportunity to visit Sarstoon island.
It notes that one Belizean boat was unjustifiably prevented from approaching Sarstoon island by the Guatemalan authorities.
According to the 1859 Convention and the 1931 Exchange of Notes, our southern boundary is defined as follows:
“Beginning at the mouth of the River Sarstoon in the Bay of Honduras and proceeding up the mid-channel thereof to Gracias á Dios Falls…”
The network says that this is a clear violation of our territorial integrity and sovereignty by the Guatemalan Armed Forces.
The BNN has requested that the government of Belize immediately send a strong protest note to the government of Guatemala, and to inform the international community and organizations about these continued acts of aggression by the Guatemalan Armed Forces.
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