Posted: Friday, September 22, 2023. 12:12 pm CST.
By Horace Palacio: In his Independence Day address yesterday, Opposition Leader Shyne Barrow took the Briceno Administration to task, not only for its governance but also for what he views as a serious neglect of Belize’s territorial integrity. Barrow minced no words in condemning the recent actions of the Guatemalan Armed Forces, who removed three national flags from Belize’s Sarstoon Island on the day commemorating the Battle of Saint George’s Caye.
“Instead of protecting our borders and preserving our territorial integrity, the Sarstoon has been neglected by the Government,” Barrow stated emphatically. “We are a peaceful nation that prefers to live in peace with our neighbors, including Guatemala, but we will never compromise our territorial integrity.”
Barrow highlighted that the actions of the Guatemalan Armed Forces constitute a “flagrant use of force,” violating international law and established confidence-building measures between the two countries. According to the Opposition Leader, this act explicitly contravenes agreements stating that “neither nation shall use force or the threat of force to pursue their position with respect to the Territorial Differendum.”
Shyne Barrow was critical of the Briceno Administration for what he sees as its neglect and abandonment of the Sarstoon forward operating base, and its failure to conduct constant patrols in the area. “The Briceno Administration must accept its share of blame for this latest violation by the Guatemalan Armed Forces,” Barrow said. He pointed out that the House of Representatives had approved $1 million a few months ago for the construction of a new Sarstoon FOB. “Some of that allocation should have been used to immediately construct a makeshift dwelling for our military to remain stationed at Sarstoon,” he argued.
The Opposition Leader concluded his remarks by calling for national unity and an immediate diplomatic response. “Let us unify as one nation in our call for the Guatemalan Government, the OAS, and the Group of Friends to ensure the Guatemalan Armed Forces refrain from violating Belizean Territorial Integrity in the Sarstoon,” said Barrow.
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