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Mar 16, 2016

Will B.D.F. Changeover at Cadenas Continue Unimpeded?

David Jones

The Belize Defense Force is shortly due to make its weekly shift-change run to Cadenas via the Sarstoon, or is it? Has that strongly worded note from the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry issued after Saturday’s incident changed things? In the note, Guatemala insists that the Sarstoon is theirs, and they will continue to assert sovereignty as they have been doing. Now the last word from the Guatemalans on Saturday to B.D.F. soldiers at the base was that they would not be allowed back into the Sarstoon. We asked Jones for some clarity about the real on the ground situation for the B.D.F. in the days ahead.

 

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

“In absence of the protocol being established we still expect to have our change over going over; we still expect our force to provide the protection for the forward operating base there. The troops are going to operate there as normal; they are of course always on alert; they are always prepared for any eventuality because they are opposing political directives so they got to be prepared for anything. So they are going in there with calm minds and sensible minds and ready to reason with whenever the Guatemalan force comes over to speak with them. We both want the same thing. We understand it is a political problem that can cause issues on the ground, but our troops are able to go there with the right temperament and if they are approached, they will just be taking notes—taking information as to what they are told, relay it to us so that we can find a solution to the issue. But the Guatemalan general is resolute that he wants peace in the area and he has given his word that the direction is passed to his troops so as to deescalate any tension that is there until our political leaders meet. But we both agree that it needs to happen now—if not this week, at least by next week. We need to sit down and come up with a protocol on how we are going to operate in the Sarstoon.”

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