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Mar 17, 2016

COLA Says Government is Finally Seeing the Light in Sarstoon Dispute

Geovanni Brackett

Across the country, much has been said in the wake of the most recent bout between Belize and Guatemala over access to the Sarstoon River.  Since the standoff at the estuary made headlines on Monday, politicians, government officials and even laymen have all chimed in on the heated conversation.  On Wednesday, grassroots organization COLA issued a release on the latest incident.  While COLA acknowledges that government has finally realized the magnitude of the Sarstoon fiasco, President Geovanni Brackett maintains that there is much more that can be done to bring international attention to the ongoing territorial dispute.  According to Brackett, the time for strongly worded protest notes have long expired.

 

Geovanni Brackett, President, COLA

“We believe that the latest incident at the Sarstoon between our B.D.F. forces with the Guatemalan Armed Forces is an indicator of the escalation of the tensions between the countries.  I believe that out of this it has revealed only, and confirmed, what the BTV and others have been saying, who have gone on these excursions, that the Guatemalans are in fact asserting themselves in a way that is unprecedented on the Sarstoon, the entire Sarstoon.  They’re not only claiming it but now they’re exercising force and power.  I think that this also has brought to light that there are legitimate reports that have been made in the B.D.F. that from 2003 that there have been ongoing official reports of Guatemalan aggression by their armed forces.  I think that this has been swept under the rug and that was a very wrong thing to have done.  But locally, the prime minister and his cabinet have given the indication that they are taking this seriously, describing it as hostile and threatening.  However, our second point is that the meeting at the OAS between Belize’s representatives and the Guatemalan representatives.  We would have thought at COLA that there would have been, that our representatives would have actually used that opportunity to internationalize and highlighting what has been done within that area of the Sarstoon and the Guatemalan aggression.  But we were very disappointed that once again the foreign minister, and I hate to sound like an alarmist, but again they have gone there, this time with representatives from the opposition to basically say that there has been really no serious incidents and we have had people who have died at the border.  We have had our, B.D.F. have had to defend themselves, killing their civilians, our people were kidnapped or were taken over to Guatemala.  There are enough incidents to highlight that there is serious tension and already ongoing violence and I believe that if the government continues to sweep this under the rug and continue to speak out of both sides of their mouths, that this can only lead to a further bigger problem where there might be mass casualties and that is not farfetched because you are telling the people one thing but there are actually very different things happening on the ground.”

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