Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019. 10:25 am CST.
By BBN Staff: The Ministry of National Security today informed that it has reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), an incident on the Sarstoon River between the Belize Defence Force (BDF) and the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF), which occurred on July 23, 2019.
In this encounter, the GAF tried to impede access to the Sarstoon by a civilian vessel.
As a result of this recent encounter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is lodging a strong protest to the Government of Guatemala.
The Ministry of National Security has described this latest incident as “very disappointing and demonstrates bad faith at a time when both countries have made significant progress in moving towards a permanent solution to the long-standing unfounded territorial claim.”
After careful review, the Ministry of National Security has given details on the incident:
The Belize Defence Force Forward Operating Base (FOB) reported that at about 9:23 a.m. on July 23, a Belizean vessel with seven civilians, including Wil Maheia of the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) and Martin Cus of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIM), approached the FOB and requested an escort to proceed into the Sarstoon River.
The purpose of the trip was to conduct an investigation on information received that illegal activity was taking place in the area of Black Creek.
The group was being escorted by the Belize Coast Guard in a BDF metal shark type patrol vessel when they were approached by two GAF metal shark vessels, which intercepted the civilians and asked them to turn around.
The BDF patrol commander informed the GAF that they would not turn around and that the civilians were being escorted by the BDF.
The Belizean vessels proceeded along the river. Some four kilometers short of its destination, the BDF patrol vessel developed mechanical issues and had to return to base.
The Sarstoon FOB commander reports that the Guatemalan patrol vessels refused to let the civilian vessels proceed unescorted and insisted that they were to return, which they did.
This is not the first time that the Guatemalan armed forces have intercepted Belizeans in an attempt to block Belizeans.
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