Meetings to Begin on Sarstoon Protocol in Coming Weeks
Late last year, talk of signing a Sarstoon protocol with Guatemala was a hot-button issue that dominated the news. Well, as you would have noted, December has come and gone and there is not a lot being said about that signing. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred ‘Sedi’Elrington, had indicated to us that the relationship with Guatemalan counterparts had become strained because of the death of the fourteen-year-old Guatemalan boy in the Chiquibul. Today, when we caught up with General David Jones of the B.D.F., we asked him for an update and whether that signing is imminent or not. He said that there should be meetings held in the next few weeks, so he is hopeful and believes that it is necessary to help maintain peace on the ground:
Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.
“We were hopeful because we were in progress in regards to reaching that milestone, having the protocol signed in December. Unfortunately, a few months before that there was the incident with the young boy who was fatally wounded in the Chiquibul and the Guatemalans have taken a different stance and they wanted to hold back and wait on getting the protocol signed. We are still waiting for them to come to the table. We trust that they will do it soon. I believe there will be talks either this month or early next month; the Foreign Affairs of Belize and Guatemala in discussion on the way forward with the issues we have on our border and in particular what’s happening along the Sarstoon. After those discussions, I expect to hear when we will sit down and really discuss what’s happening in regards to signing that protocol. It is important that we sign that protocol; for both countries it will de-escalate tension and it will have both countries understand that we have to respect each other and each other’s sovereignty the way forward so we don’t have any tensions on the border. We haven’t had it as I expected in December, but I am hopeful that very soon we will move forward again and try to see if we can achieve that milestone.”
“So, you are hopeful that we are going to sign it this year; sometime soon?”
Brig. Gen. David Jones
“Well, I am hoping long before the year is up. Hopefully within a few months I would like to see it signed, so that both forces because the B.D.F. and the GAF on the ground things can really get out of hand; things can become chaotic if there isn’t a political directive on how we should operate in the Sarstoon, so the sooner that is done the better it is for both countries.”