B.P.P./B.T.V.’s Wil Maheia Sounds Alarm on Guatemalan Aggression
The Belize Progressive Party is questioning B.D.F.’s Brigadier General David Jones over a most recent incident in the Sarstoon where a B.D.F. patrol was intercepted by a Guatemalan gunboat. They believe that Brigadier Jones is intentionally trying to cover the gravity of the situation. Today, the B.P.P. sent out a release condemning the Sarstoon confrontation in which the Guatemalan military blocked the B.D.F. from traversing the Sarstoon River. About a week ago, we asked the B.D.F. Commander about the incident and he chalked it up to lack of awareness of the protocol on the part of a new Guatemalan officer. Well, the B.P.P. describes Jones’ remarks as disturbing. We spoke with the B.P.P.’s Wil Maheia.
“We believe that these incidents happen and they try to sweep it under the rug. Here you are; you have the Guatemalan military preventing your troops from going up the Sarstoon which is rightfully, half of the Sarstoon belong to us. The Guatemalan military continue to block our troops from going up and continue to harass Belizeans, because as recently as a few weeks ago some Belizeans were detained by the Guatemala military. Yet, the General insist on calling them our friends. We find it really ridiculous or disingenuous on the part of the General for him to continue to call the Guatemalans our friends. The he tried to use the excuse oh well what is happening at Sarstoon probably they had a shift and the new guys there didn’t know the protocol or what they call protocol – the Guatemalan modus operandi- but if you look at the pictures it is the same general that has been there for over a year now harassing Belizeans. So, when he basically lied to the nation telling them that the Guatemalans had a change over and the communication wasn’t clear and that is the same general that was there when was the last time I was there which is months ago. So it was like he was almost apologizing on behalf of the Guatemalans.”
“Wil in that interview he had said to me that they are working right now on the formal document, the protocol, on how the forces operate in that area. Are you satisfied with that response from him? Basically, it is that with this protocol we are hopefully going to see fewer incidents like this one happening down in that area?”
On the Phone: Wil Maheia
“Okay. You recall months ago when this Foreign Minister was in Turkey was saying oh they gonna work on protocols and it is going to be okay for everyone to go. No. It is not going to be ok and there is no need to work on protocol because half of the river belongs to us including all of the Sarstoon Island. So, as long as we stay on our side we don’t need protocol. Yes, we need to live good with our neighbor but they must respect us. And we cannot continue to give in to them every time that they are talking about drafting up protocols and there must be something. Yes. I agree that we must talk to them but we cannot let them dictate the pace. We have to establish to them and let them know like look half of this river belong to Belize and we will use it how we see fit.”
“Okay. Wil when was the last time you were down in that area and what was your experience like?”
On the Phone: Wil Maheia
“I was down in that area just a few days ago and the experience continue to be the same. I didn’t push it because it was only four of us and it was only one boat so I didn’t really push it. But I can tell you that the Guatemalan military still has a presence there and their gun boat is still anchored at the mouth of the Sarstoon while yes it was on their side of the river, but it is still intimidating. Every time we go there they launch their vessel. It is intimidating to us. It is intimidating to the Belize Territorial Volunteers, to the fishermen that we in Belizean cannot move freely without being harassed by the Guatemalan armed forces.”
The B.P.P. says that it is calling on all Belizeans at home and abroad to urge the U.S. Government to stop arming GAF and urge the Belize Government to file complaints with all embassies and the UN Security Council.