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Dec 21, 2016

Guatemala Map Validates Steady Encroachment by Fishers in Belizean Waters

Tonight, there are two developments on the territorial claim to Belize that could explain Guatemala’s aggressive behavior for months. A map released by the Guatemalan government has surfaced showing that fisherfolks from that country are free to fish well within Belizean waters including the Sarstoon River where, as you know, Guatemala maintains a strong military presence and is essentially exerting sovereignty over the area. Belizean authorities however say they are unaware of the contentious map. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala, ensuing from a centuries-old unfounded claim by the republic, remains a fluid issue.  The latest controversy arises from a maritime map delineating the Bay of Amatique into three zones.  Those sea spaces include an area which extends from Punta Cocoli to Punta Gorda Town, with permission presumably being granted to Guatemalan fisher folk to operate within our territorial waters.  That vast expanse also encompasses the Sarstoon River.  This is information coming from Guatemala’s ministry of fisheries and aquaculture.  According to Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, he’s unaware of the existence of such a chart but isn’t surprised given the nature of the claim.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I’m not aware of the chart you are talking about.  I haven’t seen it, neither have I heard of it, but it would not surprise me that there exist such a chart because as we have been saying all along, the Guatemalans are laying claim to all of the country. And if they lay claim to the entire country that could also involve claim to maritime waters. So if that exists, it doesn’t affect our claim one way or the other.”

 

Brigadier General David Jones, Commander of the Belize Defense Force was equally unaware of the map and was caught flatfooted by the question of its existence. From a military perspective, he is of the firm position that if indeed there is truth to the presence of the diagram it won’t bode well for both countries.

 

David Jones

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.

“That doesn’t sound right.  That will not go down well.  I don’t, I’m speechless about that.  I just heard about that, but that is not right and I’ll have to speak with our Ministry of Defense if they’ve heard about it as to what steps we’re going to take to do something about it.”

 

That concern is also shared by the Foreign Minister.  As it stands, Guatemalans have been caught on various occasions fishing in Belizean waters.  He believes that an increase their presence in areas in front of Punta Gorda will create conflict with Belize’s coastguard.

 

Wilfred Elrington

“What could possibly happen is that if in fact there is an increase in the presence of Guatemalans in the area of Punta Gorda fishing, they could come into conflict with out coastguard who in fact patrol that area and then that could run the risk of a potential problem.”

 

The matter is of particular concern since it raises a national security issue.

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“That will be troubling if it is true, assuming it is true. But it will not go down well internationally if that is a stance taken. We do have a diplomatic problem with them and if that is so true, our Foreign Affairs I suspect will have to deal with it immediately. And that needs to transcend to the Ministry of Defense as to what we are going to do with it because this is a national security issue. This is our country and they shouldn’t be that close within our territorial waters.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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4 Responses for “Guatemala Map Validates Steady Encroachment by Fishers in Belizean Waters”

  1. True Belizean says:

    Dear Belizeans,

    Which sane mind on this planet sees intruders in his backyard and covers his eyes and says; “they are not there, it is not true, it is not happening”. later they coming into your house, open your fridge, and eat in your kitchen!!

    Can we still say nothing is going on? Are we so blind? Guats are raiding our rivers and taking food away from our kitchen. Let alone the moral effect of them intruding. And our defenders, in this case GOB, are sitting there saying relax, it is okay, we have it under control. Makes you remember the wolf in Granma’s clothes!!

    Jones and the BDF or the coast guard cannot and will not do anything because of many reasons. But mainly they cannot do anything if not instructed by GOB via their ministry of defense..

    Open your eyes Belizeans, demand honor and civic pride!! Demand the GOB that we all put in Belmopan to do their jobs. They are employed by us not the other way around!! It is time for Belize to say enough is enough!

  2. joe says:

    It is time we put our nation and people safety first. GOB is always the last one to know what is happening at our boarders and waters. I question what do they know? The felling that they are not taking this Bull S#*t of Guatemala serious is troubling. I ask our “Belizean, true to our way of life” to stand and demand more actions. Its time to stand up People let your voices be low. Our Democracy is in danger, think about your children’s future, a free nation.

  3. Uncle Benji says:

    Beat the war drums! On January 21st 1962, a bunch of Guatemalans (Sagastume and gang) invaded Belize, tore up the Union Jack flag, burned two Belizean villages to the ground. We did not pretend that we did not know (Sedi). We did not act surprised (Jones). We brought out the war drums, and war it was.

    We captured the Sagstume gang and end of story. This time many of us will die, but we cannot continue to live like sheep. Guatemala is a bully. Beat the war drums. Belizeans from far and near, friends of Belizeans and lovers of justice will respond and are willing to die defending the Jewel. Beat the war drums. Let them resonate in Cuba, Russia, Africa, Caribbean, Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia, but beat the war drums.

  4. Manuel Pinto says:

    Guatemala debe ejercer pleno control sobre la costa de Punta Gorda, porque es territorio de Guatemala, el artículo 5 del tratado de 1786, establece que los cortadores de madera tienen libertad de carenar sus naves mercantes y pescar para su subsistencia en el triangulo frente a la costa comprendido a 8 leguas de distancia del Río Wallis o Belice, 7 leguas de Cayo Casina o Cayo San Jorge y 3 leguas del Río Sibún. O sea los leñadores de Belice no pueden pescar en las costas de Punta Gorda, porque están excluidas de conformidad con el tratado de 1786, porque son parte del territorio de la República de Guatemala.

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