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Mar 16, 2016

5 Years Later, Is Belize Retrogressing in Sarstoon?

Just a few years ago, Belizeans were able to use the Sarstoon and there was no question that half of that meandering river was ours. Today, Guatemalans say the entire river is theirs and obviously they are prepared to assert that claim using military force against not only civilians but also the military. To the casual observer it would seem that things have gone south recently, even as our diplomats claim that Belize and Guatemala are the closest they have ever been to a definitive resolution. But outside of those closed door official meetings and diplomatic discussions, are we moving backwards?


Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, Belize Defence Force

“I wouldn’t say we are going backwards; the thing is because of the additional people going into the area, waving their flags, Guatemala has actually taken a posture that is different from what we knew before. Up until last year, I wasn’t aware that they were claiming the entire river because the B.D.F. used to traverse the area unimpeded, uninterrupted. There have been instances where their boat had been intercepted previous times, but eventually we were not impeded from going to Cadenas and do our business. Civilians should also continue to work in the area unimpeded. But up until last year, I heard that they are claiming the entire river, which is different from what we believe. So the way forward now is to ensure that there is a protocol established to try and resolve this issue so that Guatemalans can use the river, Belizeans can use the river and the B.D.F. and the Guatemala Armed Forces can traverse and do their military operations unimpeded and uninterrupted.”


David Jones

Mike Rudon

“One major criticism has been that Belize has not been aggressive enough in asserting its sovereignty. For example, we have seen fishing camps which turn into thatch homes start to come up along the coast and this is within Belizean territory, between Sarstoon and Barranco. Is the B.D.F. aware of these homes, those fishing camps and is it in the plan to maybe address them a little more aggressively?”


Brig. Gen. David Jones

“We are not aware of any fishing camps in the area between Barranco and that area. And if there are any fishing camps in the area, the local authorities can go in there and deal with it immediately. As soon as the authorities want us to support them—the fisheries department and even the coast guard—to go and see what’s happening there, they can deal with it immediately. That area between Barranco and there is not an issue. Our authorities can go there now and deal with it.”


Jones says that where illegal fishing is concerned, on our side of the Sarstoon and north, the Fisheries Department would also need to be the responding agency, while the B.D.F. stands prepared to offer support.

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1 Response for “5 Years Later, Is Belize Retrogressing in Sarstoon?”

  1. Manuel Pinto says:

    Civiles y militares beliceños no tiene derecho de navegar por el río Sarstún, el río Sarstun es territorio de Guatemala, el tratado de 1859, no otorga a belice derecho de navegación. Es cierto que hace años se permitía navegar a los beliceños, por el río Sarstún, río dulce y río Motagua, pero era porque en la Constitución política de la República de Guatemala, se establecía que Belice era de Guatemala. Guatemala si tiene derecho de navegación sobre los ríos Hondo, Belice y Sibún, porque así lo establecen los tratados de 1973 y 1876, firmados por España e Inglaterra. Derechos de navegación sobre los ríos Hondo, Belice y Sibún que no han sido excluidos por tratados posteriores. Lean los tratados y luego comentan.

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