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Jun 16, 2016

GAF Stops News Five from Traversing Our Side of the Sarstoon

Can Belizeans go into the Sarstoon – at least on our side of the river? That’s been the million dollar question since our news team was stopped on May twenty-seventh. Our government says that we can based on an informal understanding reached in Istanbul, Turkey.  The Guatemalans have said that there is no informal or formal understanding; they said so in a diplomatic note sent to the Foreign Ministry on May twenty-eighth. But as recently as Wednesday, both Belize and Guatemala have talked peace and joy at the O.A.S. General Assembly with Guatemala calling for a resolution to the dispute at the ICJ. So what’s the deal? Are we best friends as Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington continues to indicate? Mike Rudon and cameraman George Tillett found out today when they travelled into that controversial river. Here’s the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Bright and early this morning, we headed to the Sarstoon, or at least the portion of the Sarstoon which we are told belongs to Belize. It should have been an uneventful trip, since we were told by the most reliable source that we can, without any problem, traverse the Sarstoon – untrammeled access, according to G.O.B.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs [File: June 14th, 2016]

“My understanding as of today is that we continue to use it without let or hindrance, and in the meantime we are working on a formal mechanism so that in the event of any untoward incident taking place we have a way to resolve it harmoniously.”

 

So far so good. As we entered the river there was no military activity at the B.D.F. Forward Operating Base or the Guatemalan Armed Forces base across the river. The only movement came from Guatemalan fisherfolk. Then, as we continued down the northern channel, we saw GAF soldiers in a grey naval vessel move off from their base. But it kept to the Southern channel, so no problem. We continued on past Sarstoon Island, maintaining our course near the northern bank. The Guatemalan military vessel also kept its course, in their territorial water.

 

Nothing happening, so we turned back, confident that G.O.B. was telling the truth and there was, indeed, untrammeled access to our portion of the river. But then, the boat started approaching. As you can see, there were nine soldiers in the small vessel. One of them was on his phone. It quickly became clear that he was asking for instructions, and he got them. You can see for yourself what happened next.

 

Guatemalan Military Officer

“Hey, stop. Alto. Stop. Espere! Stop! Alto! Take it Easy.”

 

Wil Maheia

“We are in Belizeans waters.”

 

Guatemalan Military Officer

“No, this is Guatemalan waters.”

 

Wil Maheia

“Belizean water…let’s go. Over there is Guatemala.”

 

Guatemalan Military Officer [Translated]

“Sirs, welcome to Guatemala. What is the problem? Why are you guys here? What is the problem?”  

 

Wil Maheia

“No problem, no problem.”

 

Guatemalan Military Officer

“This is water for Guatemala; welcome to the river of Guatemala.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Over there is Guatemala; this is Belizean waters.”

 

Guatemalan Military Officer [Translated]

“Respect the protocol.”

 

Mike Rudon

“There is no protocol.”

 

Wil Maheia [Translated]

“What is the protocol?”

 

Guatemalan Military Officer [Translated]

“Respect the protocol, sir.”

 

Mike Rudon

“But there is an agreement that we can come in here. No man, there is an agreement that we can come in here.”

 

Guatemalan Military Officer [Translated]

“What’s the problem?”

 

Mike Rudon

“There is no problem.”

 

Guatemalan Military Officer [Translated]

“Ask your authorities. Leave and go to Belize. Bye.”

 

As you can see, we decided not to engage with them and headed for the B.D.F.’s Forward Operating Base. They would have stopped us, but their boat couldn’t keep up.

 

We headed back to Punta Gorda, point made on both sides. We proved that there is no untrammeled access to the Sarstoon despite what our government is saying. The Guatemalans proved that the Sarstoon remains under their control. End of story. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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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2 Responses for “GAF Stops News Five from Traversing Our Side of the Sarstoon”

  1. Belizean Pride says:

    Sedi thought we Belizeans believe his crap, every time he says we are having a harmonious talk with the guats, that’s his word all the time. He taught we wouldn’t have brave Belizeans to really try he lies thrown to our face like that, while all the guats know the real truth he thinks we won’t find out. Now what can he say, dumb *&^%*^^& sedi.

  2. Manuel Pinto says:

    Quienes corrieron los límites entre Belice y Guatemala, que establece el tratado de 1859, son los beliceños, al este los beliceños lo corrieron de la costa a las islas que están frente a las costas; al occidente los beliceños lo corrieron de los Raudales de Garbutt del río Belice a los Raudales de Garbutt en el río Hondo y ahora pretenden correr el limite sur al querer apoderarse del río Sarstún que es el límite sur únicamente de Belice, porque de Guatemala es parte de su territorio.

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