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Apr 25, 2019

The GAF Blocks the Mouth of the Belize Side of the Sarstoon

Earlier this month, on April fifteenth, we reported that the Guatemalan Armed Forces attempted to block the Belize Coastguard from travelling on the Sarstoon. Wil Maheia of the Belize Territorial Volunteers was leading a team of Belizeans on the trip on the Belize side of the river.  Maheia is the point man in Punta Gorda who helps Belizeans to travel on the Sarstoon. Well, reports are that the GAF is getting even more aggressive and attempting to assert further dominance on the Sarstoon.  At the time, the ministry said the incident marked a higher level of interference by the Guatemalans and was discussing an adequate diplomatic response. Today, Maheia reports that he set out at about ten thirty this morning again on an expedition with a teacher and Belizean diasporan, Leslie Rudon.  They did not go too far.  According to Maheia, three gun boats from the GAF menacingly blocked them at the mouth of the river.  The B.D.F. and Coastguard were not available and the situation became dangerous.  So while in the past, the GAF would follow the Belizean vessels, Maheia could not get pass the gun boats today and returned onshore. He believes that the Guatemalans were attempting to force him to their side of the river.  Maheia told News Five that today’s incident has amped up the aggression of the GAF since 2015. Here is how he described the incident:

 

Wil Maheia

Wil Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“We just got back from the Sarstoon area, not the Sarstoon Island and not even the Sarstoon River because this morning, as we approached the river, there were three Guatemalan gunboats—the biggest gunboat on the outskirts and two smaller ones blocking the channel where you enter the river. So we decided to call off our trip. There was no B.D.F. or coastguard in sight and we didn’t want to go there just by ourselves without the B.D.F. or coastguard around. So I can tell you right now that the mouth of the Sarstoon River is completely blocked for Belizeans. So Belizeans just can’t enter into the mouth of the Sarstoon right now.”

 

Following the April fifteenth trip, the Ministry of National Security said in its statement that “the Ministry notes that the Guatemalan military seemed to have been aware that Will Maheia was visiting the area and had boosted their resources in order to deliberately block his entrance. 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.”


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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