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Apr 26, 2019

Did Guatemalan Gunboats Block the Entrance of the Sarstoon River?

The Ministry of National Security has issued a release essentially rejecting a claim by the BTV’s Wil Maheia in respect of his attempted visit to the Sarstoon on Thursday. According to Maheia, three Guatemala gunboats were blocking Belizeans from entering the Sarstoon. Maheia also said that there was no presence of the Belize Coastguard or the B.D.F., so the Belizean expedition, which included a teacher and Belizean diasporan, returned onshore to Punta Gorda. Now, the release from the ministry says otherwise, asserting that a joint patrol of officers was stationed at the forward operating base and completely aware of the events that occurred around ten-thirty on April twenty-fifth. It states that it spotted a civilian vessel coming from the direction of Punta Gorda approaching the mouth of the Sarstoon and that Maheia’s expedition stopped about one point five kilometre from the Belizean base. While Maheia contends that the GAF blocked their path, the Ministry says that upon seeing the boat coming, “the Guatemalan Armed Forces base deployed two Metal Shark vessels and a Columbian-type boat towards them.” The release adds that the B.D.F. and coastguard also deployed one of their Metal Shark boats towards the civilian vessel, but would soon after realized that it had turned around and was heading back towards Punta Gorda. Late this evening, Maheia responded to the ministry’s release, saying “I can say that we BTV have witness that B.D.F. metal shark never left the dock at F.O.B. and the coastguard boat was in P.G. during the time BTV was at the mouth of the river.  The only boats around were GAF boats.”

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