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Jun 11, 2015

Guatemalan Coast Guard Vessel Runs Aground Near Glovers Reef

What is a Guatemalan naval gunboat, unauthorized at that, doing in Belizean waters? That was the million dollar question after reports surfaced early this morning. Coming on the heels of an incident in the Sarstoon two weeks ago which spawned much anti-Guatemalan sentiment, conspiracy theories ran rampant. The Guatemalan naval vessel, reportedly navigating international waters en route to Mexico, has ran aground in Belize’s littoral waters near Glovers Reef.  The beached coast guard ship was traveling along a northerly course when it lost its bearings and wandered onto the reef where it remains lodged.  The patrol boat flying the Guatemalan standard was transporting crewmen and cadet officers to Isla Mujeres and is a sixty-five foot Cutlass.  The extent of the damage to the reef is yet to be determined, as a team comprised of environmentalists and other relevant personnel is being organized to conduct a thorough assessment of the destruction.  A News Five team is just back from the site of the grounding and we’ll have a comprehensive report later in this segment.  Earlier today however, we spoke with C.E.O. George Lovell of the Ministry of National Security and he detailed what reportedly transpired off the coast of Dangriga.


George Lovell

Ret. Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

“At about 1:30 this morning, the coastguard were informed that there was a vessel on our reef off Glovers Reef in the vicinity of Middle Caye.  Immediately our coast guard officials sent out patrols into the area to confirm the reports of this grounded vessel which was confirmed that there is a vessel, a Guatemalan coast guard vessel with markings GC651 on that vessel.  We also, when we went on the ground, observed that there was a second vessel that was in close proximity to where this vessel went aground and we were then concerned, we got in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who in turn got in touch with our Guatemalan counterparts and they informed us that the vessels were destined to go to La Isla Mujeres in Mexico.  Our coast guard that were on the ground had an opportunity to speak to the crew of the Guatemalan coastguard vessel and they confirmed that yes they were heading to Mexico.  They claim that they had lost steering and that they drifted onto the reef.”


Isani Cayetano

“Is there a reason why they were passing through our littoral waters, as opposed to international seas?”


Ret. Col. George Lovell

“My understanding, according to them, is that they were within the international waters, there’s a twelve mile limit and they were in the international waters when they experienced difficulties and they drifted into our reef.”


Isani Cayetano

“As is customary I am assuming that the Department of the Environment would get involved in terms of assessing the damage to the reef.  Ordinarily there is also a fine for any private vessel that runs aground in Belizean waters.  What do you foresee would be the measures taken against the Guatemalan coast guard as a result of this incident?”


Ret. Col. George Lovell

“Well, first of all, as we speak we are putting together a taskforce that will be deployed out into the area.  The taskforce will be made up of all the relevant agencies that normally deals with these types of groundings.  Based on any certification that they give to us, in terms of what they experience out on the ground, claims will obviously have to be made for damages against the Guatemalan coast guard and the Guatemalan government.”


Isani Cayetano

“How does that work in light of the ongoing dispute between both countries, the territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala?”


Ret. Col. George Lovell

“Well this is the first and for me to say how it works, we will just see.  Time will tell.  But we will make a claim just like we will make whenever there is any damage to our reefs.”

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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