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Apr 29, 2019

Minister Elrington Speaks on Latest Sarstoon Incident

On Friday, the Ministry of National Security rejected claims made by Wil Maheia of the Belize Territorial Volunteers that three Guatemalan gunboats blocked citizens of Belize from entering the Sarstoon and stopped them at the mouth of the river.  Maheia claimed the Coastguard and the B.D.F. were not at the Forward Operating Base, but the ministry in a release maintained that the security personnel were present at the base and in response deployed a metal shark because the GAF had also deployed two metal sharks and a Colombian-type vessel to intercept the Belizean expedition. Maheia stuck to his story saying the patrol was in fact in Punta Gorda. Today, we got the opportunity to ask Foreign Affairs Minister, Wilfred Elrington, about this latest incident. Elrington’s advice is to stay away from the area.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“There are so many incidents taking place at the Sarstoon I can’t remember all of them.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Too much to remember.”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“Too much these days but I do know and I have cited that from months, months ago that so long that there are people in our country who will insist out of patriotism or whatever it is to in fact to go into the Sarstoon and towards the Sarstoon Island or whatever it is, that evokes a reaction from the Guatemalans. The Guatemalans take one position with respect to the Sarstoon. We take another position. We believe that our position is right. They believe that theirs is also right. While we do not condone the actions that they take towards our people in the Sarstoon we know for a fact that those actions can in fact lead to serious problems for our country, citizens of our country, for the security forces in our country. It is for that reason that I have made it very plain and clear months ago if not years ago that I do not think it prudent for our people to be going into the Sarstoon if it was not necessary. I personally can’t see any benefit accruing to our country by people going to the Sarstoon when we know for a fact that those adventures aggravate the Guatemalans. I can see no benefit accruing to our country from doing that kind of thing and I can see great danger befalling our country by so doing. My own counsel has always been if you don’t have to go there don’t do so.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“I believe that most of the trips down there to prove or to exercise our right of free movement and prove the sovereignty of Belize, would you dissuade Belizeans from doing so?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“I am saying that because that it is a contentious issue, because the Guatemalans have a different view and claim with respect to it, the prudent course is to stay away. That does not in any way indicate that I don’t believe that we own it. I know we own it.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“However though Guatemala continues to be in breach of international law by entering our waters and continues disrespect Belize’s sovereignty.”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“It is for that reason that we want to go to the International Court so the international court can pronounce on that issue.”


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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