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Jul 12, 2018

BTV’s Humanitarian Mission Disrupted by Guatemalan Armed Forces

John Briceño

A humanitarian mission embarked by the Belize Territorial Volunteers this morning got off on a bad start. According to Leader Wil Maheia, the group was intercepted by Guatemalan Armed Forces. Maheia says that they were first stopped by B.D.F. soldiers who sought clearance from higher-ups to allow the group to traverse up the Sarstoon River. Clearance was eventually granted and as they continued on their way, GAF intercepted the vessel as they headed to Graham Creek. The B.D.F. then had to escort the group, followed closely behind by a GAF vessel.  A Sarstoon Protocol, which would minimize conflicts in the area, was expected to have been agreed upon by both countries by now. But as Opposition Leader John Briceño pointed out this morning, there is no Sarstoon Protocol. Briceño says that the government is ‘not fighting hard enough’ to sign the protocol with the historical and international recognized boundaries. 

 

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“There is no protocol. What has happened is that the Treaty of 1859 is very clear. The border of Belize and Guatemala is the deepest part of the Sarstoon River and we have always respected that. All of a sudden like two, three years ago the Guatemalans have started to say that ‘the entire river is for us’. And they know that it is not so. I do not think that we have been fighting hard enough to ensure that Guatemala will sign a protocol to accept where is the boundary and secondly, to be able for us to accept how we can navigate the river. Both countries, historically, because you are in the deepest part of the channel sometimes that channel would go into an area that is for Belize , another areas in Guatemala in order to get from point A to point B. That is the unwritten protocol that we had. But the important thing is that we knew where the boundary for Belize is. Now Guatemala is trying to change that and we do not accept that.”

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