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May 11, 2016

B.D.F. Commander Says Military Patrol Would not be Disturbed

As recent as March sixteen this year, we asked the B.D.F. Commander, brigadier David Jones if in fact the situation in the Sarstoon was regressing for the B.D.F., as well as for civilians. Now, we know that the recently enacted Sarstoon Law prevents passage by Belizeans to the river without authorization. That is in addition to the protocols demanded by the Guatemalan military on entering the river. This is what Jones had to say.

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, Belize Defense Force [File: March 16th, 2016]

“He had given assurance for our military not to be disturbed. Only the military. There is going to be a concern when civilians go in there. I also have objection to that because even if it is civilians we don’t want them to be intercepted. However, if you have a civilian vessel, and you are not properly identified as who is coming in here, they can suspect that there is some illegal activity coming into the river, so by all rights and by all means they should come in and intercept who is coming into the river. But as soon as they’ve established who they are and they’ve confirmed who they are, they should be left alone to continue on their journey because people from SATIIM or any other NGO should be able to traverse this river un-intercepted, unimpeded. But bear in mind that illegal activities happen along this river. So if a vessel is coming from the high seas it could be coming from Honduras, it could be coming from anywhere in Central America and coming here. It would not be professional of them not to intercept those vessels because they need to know who is coming through. It’s the same for us. If we see vessels coming from the seas, it could be coming from Honduras, it could be coming with drugs, it could be coming with illegal arms or trafficking in persons, so we should do the same, and that is why we want to have a protocol so that if anything is coming into the river, it is best that we work jointly. Belize and Guatemala need to work jointly in this area.”

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