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May 18, 2015

Territorial Volunteers Treks West to Garbutt Falls

On Sunday the Belize Territorial Volunteers made one of its regular treks to Belize’s border monuments, this time at Garbutt Falls in Benque Viejo del Carmen. It was the largest expedition we have seen to date, with support from the Northern Territorial Volunteers based in Orange Walk. And as it always is, the message on Sunday was that our border is not artificial, and government needs to wake up and smell the threat from our neighbour, Guatemala. Mike Rudon was at Garbutt Falls and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The largest border expedition in our recollection, at least two hundred Belizeans, trekked along this much used contraband path which meanders along the Mopan River, just outside the chain link fence surrounding the official border station. It connects Belize directly to Melchor without having to go through that inconvenient Immigration checkpoint. On Sunday morning the brisk contraband trade was inconvenienced further, at least for a couple hours, by these Belizeans who came to pay a visit to the Garbutt Falls monument, a leaning cement pillar which lies directly on the border line between Belize and Guatemala.

 

Giovanni de la Fuente, Head, Orange Walk Territorial Volunteers

Giovanni de la Fuente

“I don’t know what happened to the people of Orange Walk. We only sounded the call and they started signing up, paying their ten dollars and coming over. We had to close off at four buses because we are on our own and we were concerned about security and so we closed off at four buses. I noh know…I think it’s something in the water.”

 

Alfredo Ortega

Alfredo Ortega, Member of NTV Expedition

“This is my first time over here getting to know this monument and I think it is very important not only for me but for all of us that came for the first time here. This gives us the opportunity to see where our markers are, that we don’t have an imaginary line, but we have a border.”

 

Wil Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteers

Wil Maheia

“I applaud everybody that came out here today. It really motivates us at the Territorial Volunteers to really continue doing what we’re doing. Belizeans are waking up, and especially when we have a Foreign Minister that continues to make reckless statements like this. I think that those statements are the things that motive people to come out and show the world that yes we have a border. Right in front of me is Garbutt Falls. How can you mistake that and say that you don’t know where our borders are? On this side is Belize and the other side is Guatemala. It’s clear, it’s defined…it is written in the law. It is in our Constitution, so for us to neglect this area is a shame on the government of Belize.”

 

With machetes and paintbrushes, these patriotic Belizeans cleared away some of the encroaching bushes and painted the marker. Any clearing around this pillar, or leading to it, is not by any initiative of Government, but rather by Guatemalans who use the path to freely traverse between countries.

 

Alfredo Ortega

“I believe that the government, any party in government, shouldn’t wait until there is a move of the people. I think that they should be clearing our borders all the time. I think our border should be clear all the time, because when we have our own land and you don’t have your markers, any person can come in and invade your area that you have.”

 

These symbolic gestures are meant to draw government’s attention to the border, but there is a wider position which resounds with the volunteers. They are against going to the International Court of Justice and angry because they feel GOB is not standing up as it should for our territorial integrity. And they are angry because of the latest revelations that Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington is travelling to Guatemala to sign an amendment to the Compromis.

 

Wil Maheia

“I think that the Belizean people need to turn the pressure up. I hope that the Foreign Minister gets his wits about him and cancels the trip. I think that it is absolutely ridiculous that he will leave, go to Guatemala and sign something that is going to affect every Belizean, and no Belizean was consulted. And don’t give us this garbage that it is not a big deal. If you are leaving this country to go all the way over there to do something that will affect the lives of every Guatemalan and every Belizean, how are you going to tell the Belizean people that it is not a big deal? It is a big deal.”

 

Giovanni de la Fuente

“The Northern Territorial Volunteers are clearly against going to the ICJ. And I believe that the efforts you will see from the Northern Territorial Volunteers will be vigorous in their campaign against going to the ICJ. Like we have stated before, going to the ICJ is similar to taking your land title to a group of five or seven foreign judges and asking them to determine, to make a ruling between you and your neighbor and this ruling that they will state is binding. So it’s like you are taking your title, going to the judge and seh…here is my title, take it, you all decide what you will do with Belize and whatever you decide we will agree.”

 

The issue has taken on political undertones, perhaps more so because the Opposition has just released a firm position on not going to the ICJ. But for those who travel to the sites with the territorial volunteers, or at least for most of them, it transcends politics.

 

Yvette Lui Torres, Member of NTV Expedition

Yvette Lui Torres

“I am a Belizean, and as a Belizean we need to know the different parts of our country. And this is a historic moment where we are experiencing and visiting a site which is very important in our country. And we pray that our government continues safeguarding and seeking a peaceful, constructive relationship whereby we live nearby our neighbors and we can live together as one nation, as one people together with our neighbors…that we can come together and compromise and live together as one.”

 

The group departed just after midday, no doubt a relief to the contrabandistas whose trade we disturbed for that little while. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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2 Responses for “Territorial Volunteers Treks West to Garbutt Falls”

  1. annoyed says:

    I am a proud Belizean and like Will, I applaud these people. It takes people like this to bring across a message to the government because they obviously dont give a damn about this. They are only concerned about the Petrocaribe money. When our land is being raped by xateros and Guatemalans that are slowly creeping onto our territories and taking advantage of our natural resources. I just cannot comprehend how this can be undermined. Elrington is an idiot, arrogant, and jack ass. He is not putting the priorities of our country as an urgent matter. God bless Belize always and protect us from our enemies! ( Because this UDP government does not give a shit, and it bothers me because I’m labeled a UDP and yes I voted for them. Only to be disappointed over and over again.)

  2. De says:

    Wilfred Elrington is being paid to sell out the country; Wilfred Elrington is being paid to sell out the country; Wilfred Elrington is being paid to sell out the country; Wilfred Elrington is being paid to sell out the country; Wilfred Elrington is being paid to sell out the god damned country!!!
    And Dean Barrow will say nothing because he is getting his cut.
    When will the people of Belize wake the hell up and understand what’s going on?!! When Guatemala cut the country in half and stuff all of you in Orange Walk and Corozal? Or when you all wake Guatemalans one day?
    Belize is Belize! From the Rio Hondo to the Starstoon and Guatemala needs to understand and accept that fact!
    There should be no negotiating with Terrorist!!!There should be no negotiating with Terrorist!!!There should be no negotiating with Terrorist!!!There should be no negotiating with Terrorist!!!There should be no negotiating with Terrorist!!!There should be no negotiating with Terrorist!!!
    Guatemala needs to understand that Belizeans will not continue to be Terrorized by them!!!
    This is terrorism what the Guatemalans are doing and the UDP condones it!!!

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