Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2018. 4:12 pm CST.
According to Saldivar, earlier this year, he issued a directive to the Belize Defense Force for them to provide escort for all Belizeans who have reason to traverse the Sarstoon River.
Saldivar says that it became necessary since it had become evident that there were elements of the Guatemalan Armed Forces stationed in the area who were determined to act outside of established international protocol and interfere with the free movement of Belizeans traversing the river.
Saldivar emphasizes that this action by the GAF is illegal and a contravention of international law.
“We therefore have consistently protested these actions through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have done so with respect to these latest incidents. However, realizing that this type of behavior by the GAF could persist we took the decision to ask Belizeans to check in with the BDF at the FOB before proceeding up the river,” Saldivar explained.
Furthermore, Saldivar stated that Belizeans are asked to check in with the BDF, not in deference to the GAF, but to afford the BDF forewarning to organize proper escort up the river.
Saldivar then accuses Wil Maheia of the BTV of not following protocol and proceeding up the river, whereupon, seeing no BDF escort, the GAF seized on the opportunity to harass the group.
“At that stage it could have become volatile had the BDF then intervened. That is why before it reaches this level, the BDF prefers to provide escort from the outset,” he said.
Saldivar questions Maheia’s motives since he did not check in with the BDF for an escort and says that the Sarstoon Island belongs to Belize as per the 1859 Treaty.
“However, there is absolutely no need to provoke armed conflict in that area. BDF escort has proven sufficient to ensure Belizean rights in the area and we will continue to assert our rights in this manner,” the statement ends.
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