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Sep 20, 2017

Foreign Minister Wants Verification of Sarstoon B.T.V. Incident

The issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity are ever present in the minds of Belizeans at this time. This morning, the Foreign Minister of Belize, Wilfred Elrington, met with visiting diplomats from countries friendly to Belize, before departing to address the United Nations in New York. We caught up with him before he dashed away and got his reaction to a slew of recent issues. First, there is another case of harassment of Belizeans on our side of the Sarstoon River in the south. The Belize Territorial Volunteers were on their annual Eco-Challenge canoe race when they were harassed by the Guatemalan military. In the wake of the thwarted competition, numerous images have been uploaded to social media and the encounter has been widely reported.  But the Foreign Minister says he knows nothing about the incident because an official report is yet to reach his desk.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I have gotten no report thus far on what transpired at the Sarstoon over the weekend.  Normally I would be in a position to comment on it only after I would have received official word from our agency.  I made inquiry, brief inquiry yesterday afternoon because I was told that C.E.O. Enriquez had been interviewed on the matter and I was also told that he himself had had no formal report on what had transpired.  Unfortunately, that is still the situation.  I don’t know what transpired.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“There is a claim and it is supported by some video evidence that the Guatemalan Armed Forces pursued the members of Territorial Volunteers and the participants in the eco challenge well into Belizean waters which, in a sense, perhaps constitutes an encroachment of sorts.”

 

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“If that were the case it would constitute an encroachment but I don’t know if that were the case and I wouldn’t want to preempt any kind of inquiry that is taking place but clearly if that were the case it would have been improper and once we have verification that that is so, we will lodge the usual protest that we do.  However, it would not surprise me that that Guatemalan Armed Forces would have reacted to the presence of Belizeans in the vicinity of the Sarstoon or on the Sarstoon, largely because they, like us, are very sensitive to activities on the river, whether it’s on our side or their side.  So there is always the tendency for them to want to react in one way or the other.  So that would not be surprising.  That would be the norm rather than the exception.”

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