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Jun 3, 2015

Coast Guard Personnel Extracted from Sarstoon Island Following Lengthy Standoff

Elton Bennett

As we said, there seem to be varying accounts of the directive given to the coastguard unit by the Ministry of National Security.  Vice Commander Bennett categorically maintains that the coastguard held its ground firmly until the mission was completed and personnel safely then “extracted” from the area because it would have been cowardly to withdraw or retreat.

 

Elton Bennett, Vice Commander, BNCG

“First of all the coastguard was never ordered to retreat.  We were given a mission to conduct a reconnaissance, including reconnaissance on the island.  That was accomplished.  We were given an order to extract after that reconnaissance was completed so the mission, as it relates to the reconnaissance, that was completed.  So to start with we were not given an order to withdraw.  We extracted under the conditions that the national security ministry, along with foreign affairs would continue to dialogue with the Guatemalan counterparts to deal with the issue.”

 

Reporter

“Isn’t that just a technical or a word difference that you are using here?”

 

Elton Borland

“No, it’s a big difference.  Withdraw or retreat, you do so as a coward.  The coastguard did not withdraw or retreat, the coastguard held its ground and after the mission was completed it then extracted from that location to another location.”

 

Reporter

“Sir is it a matter for you, is it a concern that you are intending to prepare to put a facility there and this area seems to be under question as to how far you’re allowed to go?”

 

Elton Bennett

“No.  I believe we, as seen, the coastguard and the military forces we have that authority and confidence to move anywhere within Belize Territory and if it means establishing an operating base within that area we are confident that we have the freedom of movement and the authority and support of the Government of Belize in doing so.”

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