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Apr 28, 2016

Threat to Torch Western Border Offices Explained

Following the shooting death of thirteen-year-old Julio Alvarado Ruano last Wednesday, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced that the western and southern borders with Belize would be militarized.  As tensions built up over the sudden movement of troops to communities near the Adjacency Zone and the Sarstoon River, someone from the Guatemalan press forwarded an electronic message to Ambassador Said ‘Badi’ Guerra who is a contact from the Foreign Ministry for issues along the border area. The text via Whatsapp simply read that the offices at the western border, including the customs and immigration departments, as well as the nearby police booth, would have been torched overnight.  Wasting no time, Guerra says he immediately notified C.E.O. Lawrence Sylvester and a plan of action was quickly put into effect.  Fortunately, nothing transpired last Friday and by the time we got there business had resumed at the western border.

 

Said ‘Badi’ Guerra

Said ‘Badi’ Guerra, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“It’s true; I did get a message via Whatsapp saying that the border was, the Belizean border was going to be burnt down.  I informed my C.E.O. who immediately took action, my ministry indeed took action and I must applaud that initiative and I was dispatched to the western border to meet with the relevant authorities.  By that I mean the officers in charge of immigration, customs, police to take the necessary measures should in case, you know.  If it was a game or whatever it was we couldn’t take it lightly, we had to take it seriously due to the situation that we were living.  But I must say that nothing happened, I spent the whole day at the border actually moving from one side of the border to the other, by that I mean from our border to the Guatemalan border to see how the atmosphere was.  And I must say that nothing happened, nothing has happened.  Commerce is still going on and people are still crossing the border and the relationship has continued.  So from that day onward everything has been just normal. Our authorities did ask that we should probably meet more often to discuss issues that affect both of us.  By that I mean both Belizeans and Guatemalans that live near the border of Benque and Melchor.  For many years, many years, even before I was born Benque and Melchor people have lived a wonderful, have had a wonderful way of living and that’s what we are trying to maintain and hopefully at some point in time, my mayor has been calling a meeting with the mayor of Melchor and so we are going to try and see how we can work it out so that these confidence building measures continue to take place.”

 

When News Five arrived at the western border last Friday, traffic was noticeably slow.  Only a few vehicles were crossing over, including school buses ferrying Guatemalan students to Benque Viejo for classes.

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