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Feb 19, 2016

Has Belize Lost Grounds in the Sarstoon?

Eamon Courtenay

In the past year there has been a perceived escalation in hostilities between Belize and Guatemala. That perception gained wings when thirty-seven Belizeans were basically kidnapped by Guatemalan military in Belizean waters and taken to Livingston. It flew higher still when Guatemalan military attempted to turn back Belizean vessels intent on circling Sarstoon Island. So did Belize lose a critical position of strength when it seemed to give way in the Sarstoon? Today Former Foreign Minister Eamon Courtenay, enlisted to make a presentation to the Bar Association, told News Five he doesn’t see it as Belize losing anything. But it does highlight the need for a continuous presence in the area.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Presenter

“The B.D.F. has within its mandate, as far as I can see, been discharging its responsibility in so far as the Sarstoon is concerned—and the Coastguard—in so far as the Forward Operating Base, the Brigadier General tells us that the reason it is being built out of wood and the way it is, is because of the terrain in which it is placed. We obviously would like to see a stronger building and a bigger presence there. These are small things that are being done; that must be done and must be continued.”

 

Assad Shoman

Assad Shoman, Presenter

“I understand very well when the Foreign Ministry says we have to be careful about these volunteers going along the border, crossing the border, etc. because they could be in danger. I understand that because it’s government’s duty to protect people and it doesn’t want to put people in danger. But I don’t understand if you say it’s because that is an area claimed by Guatemala because up to the Sibun is claimed by Guatemala, so we’re not to go anywhere south of the Sibun? No. Please don’t go there unless you go with protection because you might get hurt, but don’t refer to any claim. That land is our land and people have a right to be there.”

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