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Apr 12, 2016

Do Belizeans Need to Consult Guatemalan Army to Traverse Sarstoon River?

Since we had the experts in the room, News Five also asked about the mysterious current protocols governing the Sarstoon. We’re referring to those purported protocols which dictate that Belizean military and civilians who wish to enter the Sarstoon must first go over to the Guatemalan base there and ask permission. Guatemala has stood by those protocols which they consistently accuse Belizeans of breaching. But who came up with those rules, and when?

 

Assad Shoman, Opposition Representative

“The truth is that you know sometimes when you go into a negotiation, you don’t want to talk necessarily about things that would really only embarrass the other side because there are no such protocols. And so these are inventions of some people which have no legal basis. So if there is no need to go into that and ask them about it, then why do it. What we did was very clear; this is what we want, this is based on law and this is the kind of agreement that we want. And as we said, the reaction as not negative from the committee so we are hoping that they will agree to that and then we would not have to worry about this idle talk, I would say about protocols that just don’t exist.”

 

Mike Rudon

“In the immediate future, because we have said that we might get a resolution in a matter of days, but we might not…I mean this could stretch out over a period of time. Was there any discussion, maybe even goodwill, in terms of what happens on the ground between the B.D.F. going to Cadenas for example or maybe a SATIIM boat passing through? Is there any immediate agreement perhaps between the generals to say you know what until this thing is resolved, we’ll share courtesy that you all won’t have to stop in, we won’t agree your people; that sort of thing?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“There was an understanding to that effect even before we left Washington the last time we were there. These are mature people; the generals they are mature and they are prepared to work together to ensure that we don’t have any disturbance, any negative incidents occurring to the extent that they have the authority to ensure that there is no interruption, disturbance, increase of tension. They will do all in their power to ensure that that is the case. They have to be guiding by the instructions which they get from their principals, but outside of that, they are mature people, sensible people; people who loathe war, the thought of war…they don’t want to get into conflict. And so they agreed that they will do all in their power to ensure that tensions would not in fact continue to be raising in the region. That was agreed to even before we left; I think that is correct Assad.”

 

Assad Shoman

“You must understand, and please I don’t want the minister to be misinterpreted; he is not promising that there will be no incidents. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. But certainly the sense that we got is that they will do their best at that level. The generals, between themselves, they spoke to each other and they gave us that sense of security. Will the Guatemalans abide by it? Time will tell. If they don’t, we have to take measures, but let’s hope they will.”

 

Assad Shoman

Mike Rudon

“Well I was going to point out that that agreement was the last time you all were in Washington, but the SATIIM incident just recently happened after this agreement. So there must be some sort of communication gap somewhere or misunderstanding somewhere.”

 

Assad Shoman

“That was spoke about, I think minister, when the Guatemalan general said he has to make efforts to ensure that the chain of command—or something like that he said—gets right down to the level of the people there. So I think that was a way of recognizing that there is a need for that.”

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