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Apr 9, 2018

Guat Army Turns Back B.T.V./B.P.P.

As President Morales was touring the Peten area, the Belize Territorial Volunteers attempted to travel to the Sarstoon, where Belizeans now require permission from Guatemala to traverse. This weekend, the BTV hosted members of their allied political party, the Belize Progressive Party, for a strategic meeting in Punta Gorda Town. As part of that meeting, they attempted to make a visit to Sarstoon Island. But the Guatemalan Armed Forces were waiting and forced the party to turn back without incident, even as according to BTV leader Wil Maheia, they ignored the blatant appearance of Guatemalan fishermen in Belizean waters using such illegal equipment as gill nets. We spoke to him today.

 

On the Phone: Wil Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“We decided to take them down to Sarstoon Island, because most of them had never been to the Sarstoon or to Sarstoon Island before. So early in the morning we boarded the boat and started heading to Sarstoon Island. And even before we got to the Sarstoon, before we got to the Belize Defence Force’s forward operating base, we encountered at least twenty Guatemalans inside Belize waters, less than a mile from the Belize Defence Force base, illegally fishing, using gill nets with small meshes. That alone is illegal; it’s illegal for them to enter Belize and to be fishing in Belize without a fishing license as well. So there were so many offenses and they were operating like free for all. So we proceeded toward Sarstoon Island, past the B.D.F. base, and as soon as we passed the B.D.F. base, I could tell from the sound of the Guatemalan boat that they were putting themselves in motion and within a few minutes they were behind our boat, and intercepted our boat and told us we couldn’t go any further.”

 

Aaron Humes

“From what I saw of the video, short video, they’re basically saying you can’t go any further up the river.”

 

On the Phone: Wil Maheia

“Right. We decided to turn around. We didn’t have a back-up boat; we were just one boat. Usually if we have a back-up boat, we will push it, but also the guys needed to get back to the meeting as well. but the fact of the matter is that the G.A.F. is very active patrolling the river, on the Belize side of the river as well, and also tolerating a lot of illegal fishing in the area. So my question is, what is the role of the B.D.F. or the Coast Guard in that area because illegal fishing continues, or the Fisheries Department for that fact.”

 

Maheia says the B.T.V. is planning an end of the month concert in Punta Gorda to commemorate the anniversary of the 1859 Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty which Guatemala has repudiated.

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