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Oct 16, 2014

Joint Belize-Guatemala Commission Discusses Security and Environmental Protection

As we reported earlier this week, a high-level delegation led by former C.E.O. Alexis Rosado, including representatives of the Opposition, the Belize Defense Force and the Police Department, left for Guatemala City last Friday where a meeting of the Joint Belize-Guatemala Commission was held.  The purpose of the gathering, which saw the participation of the General Secretariat of the O.A.S., was to discuss security concerns that have arisen in the wake of the murder of Special Constable Danny Conorquie within the Caracol Archaeological Reserve a few weeks ago.  The meeting also resulted in an agreement between both countries on a framework for negotiations and confidence-building measures.  While Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington was absent from the meeting, he has since been briefed on its outcome.  Today, he told News Five that among the twelve conclusions reached, the issue of security, environmental protection and natural resources is foremost.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

“At the meeting it was agreed as follows: to include existing patrols and include joint coordinated military patrols.  So there have been ongoing military patrols on both sides of the border.  The Guatemalans patrol on their side, B.D.F. patrol on our side and then they meet up periodically.  This agreement now was to improve those patrols and then to conduct joint coordinated patrols so that they work closely together in patrolling the border.  You will notice also from this release that in fact it was decided as early as 2005 that our two countries could work together to combat illegal activities and transnational crime because it was contemplated from those days that in fact given the border situation there will be transnational crimes and illegal activities along the border. They also agreed that Belize and Guatemala would improve cooperation in the areas of security, environmental protection and natural resources.  Those are the areas that we are most concerned with, the environment, the security and the natural resources and we will both work together more closely to see how we could patrol it.  I will tell you that the Guatemalan side has been seriously denuded by the Guatemalans and the authorities there were not able to stop their own people from deforesting their own forest.  So it’s a problem, it’s a problem both in terms of the people’s needs and the absence of resources of governments to in fact properly deal with those needs and so we have these problems.  It’s not unique to Belize, it’s not unique to Guatemala.  We share the same problems and so we are trying to find solutions, common solutions that we can work on together to resolve.”

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