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Apr 20, 2016

What Does Dismissal of Sarstoon Proposals Mean for the Way Forward?

David Jones

While Guatemala was considering the proposals, or claimed to be giving them due consideration, Belize’s Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington claimed that there was an agreement between generals to keep the peace, without interference from either side. But that was last week, before Guatemala rejected the Sarstoon proposals. So what does it mean for the movement of Belizeans in the Sarstoon now? Will the B.D.F. be allowed to move freely without attempts to intercept them? Guatemala has requested a return to a mythical status quo which requires that Belizeans ask permission to enter the river. General Jones admits that it is a serious concern for the B.D.F. which must go into the Sarstoon to change shifts at Cadenas every week.

 

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

“Actually there was one that occurred yesterday and they went all the way to Cadenas and they did not intercept our military vessels. So he is a man of his word and he has shown that he indeed wants to work. Since the protocols have been rejected, I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I’m looking forward to speak to him whenever I get the opportunity so that we can discuss the way forward now. Since the protocols were rejects, what is next? Because since those have been rejected, he may get a different political directive of how their forces could operate here and that is my concern.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Which leads into this question…if we were to at this moment, right now decide let’s go around the Sarstoon; let’s take a circle around the Sarstoon Island, what do you think would happen?”

 

John Saldivar

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“Well I don’t know what the future would lie in regards to us moving in there, but I can tell you this, whenever we go to Cadenas, we go through the south. That happened yesterday and there was no interception for our military vessels. So they went around the southern yesterday and they were not intercepted so if we go through there, we do not expect them intercept us.”

 

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

“That was never sought by any authority in this country; that is their version of what they think the status quo was or is. It has never been the status quo for us here in this country; we will never have to seek any permission from any Guatemalan authority to use our own territory.”

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“You can see that the Guatemalans are inside Belize over on this side. We normally patrol the south and I have said before and our politicians have said before that they believe that this entire area belongs to them. So they will continue to be coming move on this side. As long as they don’t interfere with our soldiers, we are going to be fine and they shouldn’t interfere with our civilians as well.  And this is exactly what we were trying to prevent with those protocols so that there’s an agreement that we can both go on either side, because even in the agreement, in the proposal that was drafted, we agreed that our boats can go over on the other side as well and go and have discussion and talk with them and discuss matters of concerns. That was in the protocol, but they have rejected all of that. So it is something that we will have to start all over again. The O.A.S. was present when we drafted those protocol, they were present when we were in the meeting with them so they were present when they had no major objections to these protocols. So there was a third party there so we got to go back to the drawing board and think and decide what’s next. Something needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly because apart from the B.D.F. and the Coastguard and all our security agencies working here, there will be civilians who want to come in and traverse the Sarstoon River. And it is Belizean territory so they have all right to come in here. Unfortunately there is a different political directive from Guatemala so we need to sit down and negotiate to prevent tensions from happening here, but that has to be done at the political level.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “What Does Dismissal of Sarstoon Proposals Mean for the Way Forward?”

  1. mel says:

    The Guats will not changed their agression uless their is international presure from other countries like the USA and Britian, also from the OAS, Caricon, UN and other regional agencies. We have already lost the diplomatic struggle but GOB seems to not want to accept and change its policies.

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