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Nov 15, 2016

Without Guatemala, Can Belize Hold on to Sarstoon?

Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington appears to have thrown his hands up in the air in relation to getting a Sarstoon Protocol, admitting that he has been unable to reach his Guatemalan counterpart, Carlos Raul Morales. Under the presidency of Jimmy Morales – who is no relation – the Guatemalan Foreign Minister has been adopting tough talk – and his military leaders are following suit, strictly enforcing Guatemalan hegemony in the Sarstoon River and controlling Belizean access. Most recently, patrols from the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) have been denied access to the national southern boundary, and even the Belize Defence Force has only been travelling with Guatemalan escorts. It is a distressing situation and today Opposition Leader John Briceño said that Belize is now paying a hard price for not planning ahead in countering Guatemalan aggression.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“Now here we have no other than the Foreign Minister, who, yes, considers himself a good friend of Carlos Raul Morales, the Foreign Minister from Guatemala; you see them hugging and smiling and every minute very touchy-touchy; and now announcing that his very best friend refuses to take his call. And now we have the Guatemalans coming into our river, preventing our people to go up the Sarstoon River, putting aside decades of understanding how we use the Sarstoon River – you on your side, we on our side, respecting one another; but this is happening because we have no plan. What do you think? If you can’t go into your house at will, and you have to ask your neighbor permission to go into your house, does that house belong to you? That is what happening to us right now with the Sarstoon – that it seems we have to be asking permission from the Guatemalan military to get in to use that river. And because of our lack of a plan, it has emboldened the Guatemalan military to be able to come into our waters, and basically tell us, “You are only going to pass through when I tell you, you can;” but we haven’t been doing anything, ladies and gentlemen. And because of that lack of planning, that lack of direction, that lack of attention to what has to be done, now we are facing a neighbor that has become more aggressive, and is now preventing us from actual use of the Sarstoon River.”

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