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Sep 26, 2016

Finally! Foreign Affairs Minister Takes On Guatemala At United Nations

Wilfred Elrington

Today, Minister of Foreign Affairs addressed the United Nations in a spirited speech touching principally on the Belize-Guatemala dispute. In his address to the seventy-first General Assembly, it was the first time that Wilfred Elrington finally took on Guatemala’s hostility against Belize. Elrington used some choice words and said Guatemala was “impeding the peaceful ingress and egress of Belizeans both military and civilians.”

 

Wilfred Elrington, Foreign Minister, Belize

“Regretfully, though not unpredictably, in the last eighteen months, there have been hostile incidents between civilian and military personnel of both Belize and Guatemala in the Sarstoon River, our southern border. Guatemalan naval personnel repeatedly impeded the peaceful ingress and egress of Belizeans both civilian and military on the River, wrongfully claiming the river to be theirs.  However, as the northern side of the river is Belizean territory, the unimpeded use and enjoyment of that side of the river is the right of every Belizean citizen.  Belize therefore promptly and properly protested each such attempt. Additionally, we engaged our Guatemalan counterparts in dialogue, under the good offices of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States with a view to putting a speedy end to that potentially perilous practice.  Simultaneously, the situation along our Western Border was also vexing. Continuous illegal entry by armed trespassers from Guatemala persisted despite the valiant efforts of our border patrol to deter them.   The trespassers engage with impunity day and night in the panning for gold, the hunting for wild game and birds, the pillaging of Mayan temples, illegal logging and the cultivation of crops including marijuana for commercial purpose. In the process our priceless forest is being decimated, our waters both potable and sea compromised and our coral reefs choked to death by sediments that run off the denuded mountainsides after each torrential downpour.   Being fully cognizant of the devastating environmental impact which these practices are having in neighbouring countries and further afield Belize cannot afford to let the same happen to us.”

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