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Sep 2, 2015

B.D.F. Commander Meets with Guatemalan Vice Admiral on Sarstoon Incident

When the Belize Territorial Volunteers led a mission to Sarstoon Island on August sixteenth, at least one vessel carrying members of the organization came into direct contact with the Guatemalan navy along the winding tributary.  While footage of a brief verbal exchange was later broadcasted by the local media, leading the charge on the other end was Vice Admiral Carlos Thomas.  The Commander of the Guatemalan Naval Forces minced no words in claiming the Sarstoon River, including the island in question, as part of Guatemala’s territory.  That baseless assertion was also published in a skewed report by the Guatemalan press.  As fate would have it, Vice Admiral Thomas would later meet with Brigadier General David Jones in Cartagena, Colombia where both commanding officers discussed the sequence of events that played out on the Sarstoon River.  Here’s what General Jones had to say today about the meeting.

 

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

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“While I was in Cartagena I met with Vice Admiral Thomas and Colonel Garcia.  Those are the two gentlemen that are particularly involved in what’s happening inside the Sarstoon.  We discussed what has been happening, we discussed some of the incidents that occurred and we had discussions in regards to the way forward and how we can communicate easier to prevent situations from escalating.  They have agreed to cooperate with us and we have agreed to cooperate with them with whatever issues that are occurring within the Sarstoon.  Of importance is the fact that there’s a lot of illegal activities that do occur there and it’s in the regional interest, it’s in Belize’s interest, it’s in Guatemala’s interest for us to have a base in the area and to work jointly with them.  They’ve expressed that their view remains the same that the Sarstoon River in its entirety belongs to them.  We’re of an opposing view but that’s something that should be solved at a political level.  We, as military men, we’ll just continue to work as we have been doing for decades.  So they have no issues with us working in the area, we have no issues with them working in the area and we’ll continue to cooperate and try not to have any situation escalate into conflict in the area.”

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