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Mar 2, 2015

Guatemalan Military Detains Thirty- Seven Belize Territorial Volunteers Overnight

On Saturday news spread like a toxic cloud over the nation…thirty-seven Belizeans, part of an expedition headed to the southern-most border marker, had been detained by Guatemalan military and taken to Livingston, Guatemala. The detained individuals were mostly from Orange Walk, since the trek was organized by the Northern Territorial Volunteers. The mission plan was to go to Gracias a Dios, paint the marker and install a plaque with the name Belize. That mission was successful, but the expedition went awry at between four and five o’clock on Saturday, as the group headed back home. There’s a lot to report on tonight, and we start with the return to Belize via the Punta Gorda Customs dock. Mike Rudon was there and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Early Sunday morning a small crowd started to gather near the Customs compound in Punta Gorda. The occasion was the return of thirty-seven Belizeans aboard the skiff “Dore.” They had been seized by Guatemalan military at the mouth of the Sarstoon River on Saturday at around four thirty, but released without charges. The reception committee included members of the B.D.F. and C.E.O.s from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Security, the media and a small crowd of Belizeans…even Ozzie the Clown.

 

At around nine, there was word that the group had left Livingston, Guatemala, en route to PG. Wil Maheia is the head of the Territorial Volunteers, and had led many expeditions to the border points. He wasn’t on this one…but he was concerned, and very angry.

 

Wil Maheia, Head, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“Just before the engines rolled, I got off the boat, wished them well. We had a very festive send off, horns were blowing, flags were waving, and it’s very regrettable that it had to end in this situation because the people travelled all the way from Orange Walk to come to Punta Gorda, to go to Gracias a Dios and this is what they ended up with…being kidnapped, because I can tell you that these people were on the Belize side. Guatemala had no right to come into Belize waters and take those people.”

 

Wil Maheia

At exactly ten-thirty-five we got our first sign of the Dore heading in over very choppy seas. It was escorted to the left and right by boats from the Belize Coast Guard and the B.D.F.  And at exactly ten fifty-eight, the Dore docked at the Customs pier, to an overwhelming welcome. It was an emotional moment for this group of Belizeans and for those who had prayed for their safety, and welcomed them home.

 

Wil Maheia

“This never had to happen. I believe it was the O.A.S. or some other international agency that had given Belize and Guatemala money to build outposts at the mouth of the Sarstoon. The Guatemalans have built theirs, the Belizeans have not. We take security lightly in this country. We have to stop that. We have to be concerned about our borders.”

 

That fight is ongoing, but for today, this group of thirty-seven…wet, tired and bruised from the heavy seas, is just happy to be home. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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3 Responses for “Guatemalan Military Detains Thirty- Seven Belize Territorial Volunteers Overnight”

  1. Jorge says:

    It is very disturbing to me to see the recklessness of these aspiring politicians in putting a crowd of Belizeans in extreme danger, only for a little bit of recognition.

  2. CEO says:

    Jorge you are as untutored as one can be! Ok let me help you to understand the importance of this: assuming that you own property in Belize somewhere and say one of your neighbours tell you that you cannot come to one of your property line that is well surveyed and staked because you would be encroaching on his property; would you cower down and stay away? Exactly my point!

    Politicians have been successful so far because Belizeans for the most part are cowards and do not know how to assert themselves and their civil and territorial rights. Even the leaders of our country charged with the security of or boarders and out citizens preach this gospel of cowardice and Jorge seems to well schooled in this doctrine.

    Things will never change until Belizeans find something about their country that they are willing to die for. The politicians will continue to do the crap they do and our neighbors will continue to tell us which part of our yard we can play in until we get enough and say enough is enough!

    There has never been any significant change in this world that was sparked by politicians. The citizens were taken advantage of until they stood up and spoke truth to power: read some history about MLK and Rosa Parks. They because fed up with the status quo and stood up (in Rosa Parks case -sit down) and were willing to die for what was right.

    Wil please continue to educate our people and show them how to stand up for their rights.

  3. NYorker says:

    I concur with Jorge. Individualism and Nationalism are often abused by politicians for selfish reasons. The action was provocative and incendiary on both sides. Guatemala and Belize will forever be neighbors connected culturally, socially and geographically. Neighbors should treat and have respect for each other and celebrate and exchange culture, sports, and other festivities instead provoking hostilities because of nationalism. Peace is always better than war. love is better than hate. Diplomacy is better handled by experts not vigilantes saber rattling fools. I have always respected Will and admire the environmental work he is doing, but he is playing with fire on this territorial issue. I seriously question the end game of the so called border crusaders.

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