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Jul 27, 2016

What’s the Latest at the Sarstoon?

With so many things happening on the news front, the situation at the Sarstoon has been pushed somewhat on the backburner. But from official indications, while public attention has been elsewhere, serious progress has been made. At a training session this week, B.D.F. Commander Brigadier General David Jones confirmed that all is peaceful in the previously controversial river, and both sides have come to an agreement on shared access.

 

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

“The Guatemalan Armed Forces have not been trailing us for months now. Our soldiers go down to Cadenas unimpeded; they don’t interfere with us. We go and do our normal job and we don’t get touched by them. What we’ve ask our civilians whenever they go through, just inform us, the B.D.F. base, what they are going to do up the river and they can do whatever they wish and then come back. As long as they are not doing anything illegal, it is fine. But bear in mind that the river, there is joint shared access, equal access, to the river. So Belizeans can go in there and Guatemalans can use it freely as well. What the B.D.F. is doing there is mainly for the illegal activities that happen on the land. When we would go up the river and if there is any foreigners that go on the Belizean side of the river on the land, then that’s where our soldiers would investigate and then deter and probably arrest what is happening there. So when our officers would leave from the base, they would patrol up the river to investigate if there is anything illegal happening then they will deal with it.”

 

David Jones

Reporter

“But I am saying, is this something new? I don’t know if we are understanding each other. On many trips that we have been there as has the BTV, we see Guatemalans fishing. What would you say—it would be north…”

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“Yes, north of the river and clearly in Belizean side.”

 

Reporter

“Exactly that. It appears to be a change to us for B.D.F. to be doing all of this enforcement now; they weren’t doing it before.”

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“No, there is no change. If there is anything that looks suspicious north of the river, the members of the base will go and investigate and they have been doing that.”

 

Reporter

“Since when? How long?”

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“It has been going on for weeks. It is not reported in the media, but it has been happening.”

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