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Jun 15, 2018

More Boots on the Ground in Otoxha to Ward of Guatemalan Poachers

John Saldivar

There has been an increase in military presence near the outskirts of Otoxha Village, in an area adjacent to the Guatemalan border.  The need for B.D.F. patrols to be deployed into the fringes of that southern community follows a report from villagers that there has been clearing taking place in the nearby forest in Belizean territory.  Those open spaces, they say, aren’t the work of local farmers operating within the area.  It is strongly believed that Guatemalan ranchers are behind the clearing.  As a result, the Ministry of National Security has taken a keen interest in providing support to villagers, in an effort to deter incursions and other illegal activity within the area.  According to Minister John Saldivar, a trip has been scheduled for him to visit the location.  News Five also spoke with B.D.F. Commander Stephen Ortega, who says that his officers will be stationed in Otoxha on a more permanent basis.

 

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

“We are out there, our presence is there and we are working on, again, as I said, trying to deter the Guatemalans from coming over.  We have observed what has been done so far and I believe we’ve been okay in arresting it at this point.  I should be traveling there, if not today, at some other point to review what is being done and see if there are improvements that can be made.  We want to work along with the Alcalde association; we want to work along with the villagers in securing the territory done in that area.”

 

Stephen Ortega

Isani Cayetano

“What is the situation on the ground insofar as the B.D.F. being there and trying to keep incursions at a minimum?”

 

Stephen Ortega, B.D.F. Commander

“Well, as you know, there are reports and it has been confirmed by us of clearings that have been done, we suspect by Guatemalans, because we haven’t found anyone in the area, but the villagers say it’s not them so we suspect it’s Guatemalans.  To deter that we have deployed a patrol out there on a permanent basis to ensure that they arrest any situation that is happening out there and to ease the population and to remind them that this is Belize and we are there to protect them. Down south in Otoxha, we’re very grateful for the villagers that they’re taking the interest in their area and they have informed us of the encroachments that were happening there.  And so that gave us a chance to get out there and to arrest that situation as well, so we encourage the population, if you see something wrong report it.”

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