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Aug 17, 2015

Guatemala’s Skewed Version of Events Reported

The National Security Council reiterates that, “assertion and maintenance of sovereignty over the Sarstoon Island and our half of the river is best left to the Belizean military and Belizean diplomats.” We wonder what the military and those diplomats are making of the Guatemalan version of the events on Sunday. As we showed you, there was a boat with Guatemalan military present, and today journalist Carlos Cruz, with Canal Antigua, aired his own story. As you’ll see, Belizean diplomacy doesn’t seem to have been making too many strides in establishing any sovereignty over the Sarstoon – river or island.

 

(Translated)

Between shouts, poor behavior and with voice of ownership, Belizean citizens came to claim the big island, as they call it, an island which lies in the middle of the Sarstoon River and apparently is Guatemalan property. The Naval command of the Caribbean did its job by asking the citizens, who entered Guatemalan territory in boats, to present their documents. The Belizeans indicated that they did not need to submit any documents as they (the Guatemalans) were violating the maritime laws and that they were in Belizean waters.  The Vice Admiral Carlos Thomas gave us a perspective into the situation.

 

Carlos Thomas, Vice Admiral

“This is a manifestation of a lack of knowledge of some Belizean citizens, by attempting to lodge themselves or a Belizean flag in Guatemalan territory. This historically, the Sarstoon River, the waters of the Sarstoon River, are internal waters which belong to the Guatemalan state. We acknowledged it as such, and the Navy, the national defense, recognizes its sovereignty and it is an important mission which we are carrying out here. Simply, we did a containment movement of this civilian population, which was poorly oriented, I would say, because of their aggressive and abusive approach. They intended to take possession of property which belongs to the Guatemalan state.”

 

Those who felt terrorized were the neighbors in the vicinity of Sarstoon River, especially the fishermen. This is what they told us.

 

Reporter

“Because if the river was for Belize, what would you do? They would not let you fish?”

 

Fisherman

“No, they would not let us fish. They wouldn’t let us fish. And because we have no other choice, only fishing, right? That is what we do.”

 

Reporter

“And you have suffered threats here?”

 

Fisherman

“Yes.”

 

Reporter

“By Belizeans?”

 

Fisherman

“Yes, exactly so.”

 

Reporter

“And what kind of threats have you all received?”

 

Fisherman

“Well, they have chased us, they have forced us into the bush and they have followed us a lot, various times, right? “

 

Reporter

“From which side. From…”

 

Fisherman

“From the Belizean side as well. We have hidden; well we have to flee, so that they don’t grab us.”

 

Reporter

“And do you know that this river is for Guatemala?”

 

Fisherman

“Well yes, it is known that that is the way it is, but they have always abused it.”

 

Reporter

“They do tours here?”

 

Fisherman

“Yes, they always have.”

 

Members of the O.A.S. came to the site, but they made it known that they were only there to represent the O.A.S. and that they would examine what would happen there. They were not there on behalf of Belize or Guatemala.

According to the neighbors of the Sarstoon, this instance was the third time that Belizean citizens came to that area to put flags on the island, as they call it.

According to the O.A.S. representatives, they hope that the two countries can remedy the situation so that it doesn’t escalate.

They also hope that this was not a political move by Belize.

 

From Izabal for Canal Antigua, a report by Carlos Cruz.

 

Interestingly, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales was in Belize recently, and at a press conference both he and Belize’s Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington maintained that Belizeans can, and have always been able to go to the Sarstoon Island.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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