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Aug 7, 2015

B.D.F. Commander Says Nothing Stops Belize from Building F.O.B. in Sarstoon

Moving to another hot-button issue…In late July, the Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Carlos Raul Morales, said during a press conference that in the Confidence Building Measures, both Belize and Guatemala had agreed not to “increase the military bases in the vicinity of both countries.” Morales was answering a question in respect to Guatemala’s objection to the proposed construction of a forward operating base on the Sarstoon.  That statement prompted a swift reaction from former P.U.P. Foreign Ministers who were involved in the two instruments of the Confidence Building Measures in the ten year period between 1998 and 2008. They signed off a statement denying any such decision in respect of the military bases. Today, B.D.F. Commander, Brigadier General David Jones, also supported the former ministers. Jones says there is no agreement that prohibits Belize from constructing a forward operating base near the Sarstoon.

 

David Jones

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commandant, B.D.F.

“In the confidence building measures, it doesn’t specifically say that we are restricted from conducting military bases along the border. What I do recall is in the confidence building measures is that the other nation, each nation, is not supposed to be expressing or showing that they are exerting their sovereignty over the other, but it doesn’t restrict us from actually constructing other bases. The measures primarily addressed the western portion of the border from up Arenal down to south where Cadenas is, but it did not really specifically address the area of the Sarstoon, which is the southern border with us and Guatemala. But just out of a matter of courtesy, if we are going to do anything similar in regards to the confidence building measures on the west, if Guatemalan patrols are near the border or if Belizean patrols are near the border, we do inform each other. But it wasn’t expressly so for the Sarstoon, however, out of a matter of courtesy, we do consult with each other.  I wouldn’t be able to say that he misled the people. That would have to be answered by him. He read the confidence building measures; he probably has a different interpretation from what we have here in Belize. From what we interpreted it, we are aware and I am quite sure it didn’t specifically say that we are restricted from constructing military bases on either side. But just as a matter of not exerting sovereignty, it is just a matter of discussing with each other.”

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