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Apr 7, 2016

PM Barrow Speaks on SATIIM Incident in Sarstoon

A meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Belize and Guatemala scheduled for this Friday has been postponed for sometime next week. It would have discussed the new stance by Guatemala in the Sarstoon where it is exerting control over the island. Guatemala, it is known, does not want to discuss the Sarstoon nor does it want to include the O.A.S., but tensions are building up around this very critical matter. On Tuesday rangers from the N.G.O. SATIIM were aggressively intercepted by a Guatemalan patrol boat in the Sarstoon. Those rangers, on a routine patrol, had informed the B.D.F. at the Forward Operating Base that they would be in the Sarstoon, but the Guatemalan military accused the Belizeans of breaching protocol by not asking them permission. There’s that mysterious protocol again…the one which Guatemala has cited on multiple occasions of late, as they have approached and intercepted both civilian and military vessels in the area of the Sarstoon. Belizean officials, at least publicly, disparage any notion of such a protocol, but that hasn’t seem to make it go away. SATIIM on Wednesday fired off a letter to Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington reporting the incident and requesting a clarification on that protocol, or any protocol governing the Sarstoon. Today in the Cabinet Room Prime Minister Dean Barrow told the media that the report comes as no surprise.

 

Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

Dean Barrow

“I’m sure that the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be carefully considering that report. All I will say is that I’m not surprised. We said to the public that the Guatemalans are clearly taking a new and absolutely aggressive stance with respect to the Sarstoon. We have to continue to maintain that we are sovereign over our portion of the Sarstoon and therefore if the documentation offered by SATIIM is accurate, what the Guatemalans have done is wrong, and we must protest it diplomatically. We cannot allow for any suggestion to arise that we are sleeping on our rights, but of course how do we assert those rights…by protesting, by letting the international community know and by trying finally to engage the Guatemalans so that we might be able to work out some sort of a protocol. In terms of this sort of an issue we keep our friends the Americans completely briefed. We know that they have to play the role of honest broker, but we know that their interest in regional security must mean that they too will have a concern if there are these flashpoints. Clearly they have occurred with increasing frequency over the last couple of weeks and now there is this SATIIM development. But I have to continue to be hopeful that the Guatemalans will agree with us some method of proceeding. They’re not going to abandon their formal position which is that the entire Sarstoon is theirs. We sure as hell won’t abandon our position. We will push and push and push but clearly two countries in this position must be able in this modern day and age and in the context of the larger Central American picture, must be able to work out some type of understanding as to how we’ll proceed.”

Top ranking military officials of both countries were expected to participate in the now postponed meeting which is being billed as a bilateral meeting.

 

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2 Responses for “PM Barrow Speaks on SATIIM Incident in Sarstoon”

  1. Concern Citizen says:

    We seem to be loosing the Sarstoon Island to the Guatemalans but how about Belizeans going to the Casino and Freezone here in the North they have to Stamp their Passport as if they are exiting the counrty giving the impression that the Mexicans already own this piece of land as the Mexicans do not have to report to Immigration none at all. Where is Will Mehia and the territorial volunteers??????????????

  2. Jek says:

    Well you must not be a Belizean at all or you must be the stupidest person, that’s why it’s called a Comerical Free zone. Read about it and inform yourself so you don’t look stupid with that comment you posted here.

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