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Apr 15, 2019

Tensions at the Sarstoon! GAF Blocks Belize’s Security Forces

At around ten-thirty this morning, tensions were running high as members of the Guatemalan Armed Forces attempted to block the path of members of the Belize Coast Guard.  Video footage of the event captured by Wil Maheia of the Belize Territorial Volunteers clearly shows three Guatemalan gunboats in Belizean waters. Late this evening, the Ministry of National Security issued a statement in which it confirmed that the visitors were being escorted by Belize’s security forces at the Sarstoon Forward Operating Base when they were intercepted by three Guatemalan vessels that blocked their passage through the river. The Ministry says that after ‘making several attempts to outmaneuver the Guatemalan Armed Forces vessels to no avail, the visitors and escorts retracted from their attempts. This incident has been reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a strong protest is being lodged to condemn the actions of the GAF. The Government’s says that this latest act of Guatemalan Armed Forces ‘marks a higher level of interference by the Guatemalans and is discussing an adequate diplomatic response.’ In the following video clip, Belizean Rhenae Nunez explains what she is seeing during her first trip to the Sarstoon.

 

Rhenae Nunez

Rhenae Nunez, Belizean

“For me to witness this first hand. I’ve only seen footage. I’ve only seen video when you’ve been out there. I am witnessing this for myself because I can see across the entrance to the river. You can see these two boats audaciously or what we say in Belize Creole ‘facey’ came all the way across and now lingering in clearly what is Belizean territory. Folks what we are looking in front of us is the Sarstoon Island and I was trying to explain as we were approaching that it has a river forks but this is clearly Belizean territory. This is what I consider to be menacing. This is provocation and this is how Guatemala wants to pursue their claim by bullying us. This is bullying.”

 

Following that incident, the security forces at the Sarstoon F.O.B. conducted a routine patrol around Sarstoon Island and had no resistance from the GAF. The Ministry notes that the Guatemalans seemed to have been aware that Maheia was visiting the area and had deployed reinforcements to deliberately block his entrance.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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