Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2018. 1:19 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) conducted their third annual Sarstoon Kayak Challenge on September 15, 2018.
While in the previous two years, there was no resistance from the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) during the races, there was resistance this year.
The Ministry of National Security today issued a statement explaining what occurred between the BTV and the GAF.
According to the Ministry, the Belize Forward Observation Base (FOB) Patrol Commander reported that on September 14, a vessel with five men and two women passed near the FOB.
The patrol recognized that one of the men on board was Wil Maheia of the BTV but noted that the vessel did not stop at the FOB as has been publicly advertised and is advised for all vessels.
The commander reported that the persons onboard shouted that they were not going far. The commander also reported that the seeming intent of Maheia was to plant a flag on the Sarstoon Island.
The Ministry says that checking in at the FOB is required of Belizeans, not in deference to the GAF, but to afford the FOB forewarning to organize properly and to adequately account for the safety of those onboard.
On the matter of the kayakers being intervened by GAF and prevented from circling the Sarstoon Island on September 15, it is important to recollect that elements of the GAF, many times act without restraint towards civilians and interfere with Belizeans traversing the river.
According to the Ministry, this action is illegal and a contravention of international law.
The Ministry, therefore, consistently protests these actions, and through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has done so with respect to this latest incident.
In addition to protesting, Belizeans are repeatedly advised to check in with the Belize Defence Force at the FOB before proceeding up the river.
The FOB has on several occasions gone as far as escorting civilians that are in the area doing legitimate business.
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