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Mar 3, 2016

BTV to Protest Sarstoon Incident at House Meeting

It’s been over a year since thirty-seven Belizeans on an expedition to the Sarstoon were escorted by Guatemalan military to Livingston, Guatemala. The first anniversary of that event was to be celebrated by another expedition to the Sarstoon by the Belize Territorial Volunteers. But on Saturday, armed Guatemalan military vessels illegally entered Belize and blocked Belizeans from proceeding to Gracias A Dios as had been planned. The BTV will now be heading to Independence Hill on Tuesday where the House of Representatives will be meeting for the budget presentation. According to Wil Maheia, the BTV executive met on Saturday following the botched expedition and agreed that the Guatemalans disrespected Belize. With the requisite permit already acquired, the BTV is asking the unions and residents to participate in a peaceful and energetic picketing.

 

Wil Maheia

On the Phone: Wil Maheia, Founding Member, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“The executive decided that we have to take our message not only to the borders, but to the capital; we have to take it to Belmopan. The House is meeting on Tuesday so we need Belizean people…if you are not happy with what’s going on, you have to show that you are serious; that you take this Belize-Guatemala issue seriously and the fact that Guatemalans are putting themselves in front of the Belizean military base and nothing is being done, we need to government to understand and we need them to do something about that. For too long now Guatemala has bullied us and they are getting more and more—stopping us from going up the Sarstoon. I think that that’s the thing really causing us to come out. So the unions, the Teachers’ Union, the N.T.U.C.B., from Rio Hondo to Sarstoon…every teacher, every health worker, every Belizean come out on Tuesday and let the government know how we really feel. There will be buses leaving from every district so get in contact with us. The business community, they need to make this happen. Their business is being impacted by the Guatemala situation so we want the business community to come out, the Chamber come out and be a part of this, take a stand. We are expecting to bring out between five hundred to a thousand people.”

 

Duane Moody

“How effective do you think this is going to be? Why I say this is because there’s been outcry from many Belizeans about the issue down south; BTV has been the main group behind this apart from COLA. But how effective do you think this is going to be given the fact that it seems that this outcry is falling on deaf ears?”

 

On the Phone: Wil Maheia

“That’s why we are taking it from the border to the capital. We have to change our strategy. We are going to the border, we’ve gotten their attention, but they must pay more attention to the border situation. We are losing forests, we are losing biodiversity, we are losing our fishing communities because they are not paying attention. We are calling on the government to take a stand. Imagine, in front of our military base, Guatemalan military just brazenly put themselves there with no regards for the Belizean military. So we as Belizean people have to stand up for our country.”

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