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Nov 25, 2016

No Protocol for Sarstoon – Yet

Central to the ongoing tension between Belize and Guatemala is the Sarstoon River.  For many years, Belizeans have freely traversed the southernmost waterway, enjoying unimpeded access to abundant resources found within the area.  That has since changed completely, replaced altogether by Guatemalan Armed Forces personnel who firmly demand that Belizeans, military or civilians, adhere to a protocol which only they seem to know exists.  When pressed about the reality of such an M.O., Foreign Minister Elrington insists that there is no protocol in existence.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“There is no protocol in place yet between Belize and Guatemala in relation to the Sarstoon, as there is in relation to the Western Border.  The intention is that we would hopefully be able to make one with Guatemala in December, that is next month.  And that is what we are working to, that was the promise that we had gotten from the Guatemalan Foreign Minister before the incident and we are hoping that we’ll be able to hold him to that promise and at that time we would enter into this arrangement.  The protocol is a big word, it simply means an arrangement, our intention is to ensure that if there are any incidents on the Sarstoon it can be dealt with peacefully by the parties sitting together, discussing it and resolving the issue and that it will not involve any kind of military action whatsoever.  That’s the intention, to deal with disputes on the Sarstoon in the same way in which we deal with them on the Western Border, you know, when there is an incident a representative from the O.A.S. goes and verifies it and then they give the information to both our countries, Guatemala and to Belize, and then we take the necessary steps to deal with it.  That is all we want to have done in the Sarstoon.  When the one was done on the Western Border the Sarstoon was not included, we are now trying to get one for the Sarstoon as well.  That’s all.”

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