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Dec 16, 2016

Defence Minister restates position on Sarstoon access

At the August House meeting, area representative for Fort George Said Musa asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington whether citizens of Belize can now freely travel on the Belizean side of the Sarstoon River without let or hindrance. During Friday’s meeting, area representative for Corozal Southeast Florencio Marin Junior asked Minister of Defence John Saldivar a slightly similar question – whether soldiers of the Belize Defence Force and Belizeans have unfettered access to the Belizean side of the Sarstoon and if not, what impedes us from our sovereign territory. Saldivar replied that the occasional shadow Guatemalan Armed Forces patrol and check-in at the Belize Forward Operating Base is the new order of the day.

 

John Saldivar, Minister of Defence

John Saldivar

“The B.D.F. continues to conduct regular patrols at the Cadenas observation post and they do so without regular distractions. Regular patrols conducted along the entire Sarstoon River are ordered by the B.D.F. and is a requirement given by the Ministry. Belizeans also have free access to the Sarstoon however, due to Guatemala’s position with regards to sovereignty over the entire area our civilian are asked to check in at the Belize Forward Operating Base located by the mouth at the north of the river. Civilians may go in without being question or followed by GAF patrols to ensure they are not doing anything illegal or that the B.D.F. F.O.B. is aware of their presence in the area. We continue to exercise our sovereignty in the area by having our military patrolling and conducting operations along the river and our aircraft conducting air presence along the river. Our civilian interest groups are also able to conduct patrols in the river and may be questioned in the area and maybe questioned of their activities only and not to their legitimacy to being there. We do share the river with Guatemala.”

 

Saldivar noted his recent tour of all B.D.F. installations, including those in the South and along the borders, and issued his thanks to the brave men and women on the ground confronting their Guatemalan counterparts and in the air in the newly acquired B.D.F. helicopters.

 

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