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Apr 30, 2019

Belizean Flag is Removed by Guats from Sarstoon Island

The Sarstoon remains a hotspot in southern Belize because the Guatemalan Armed Forces has consistently behaved as if the entire island is under their control.  Now, today is the anniversary of the 1859 Treaty which is very significant in the resolution of the Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory.   The signing of the treaty took place on April thirtieth, 1859.  Will Maheia of the Belize Territorial Volunteers was not on a planned trip to the island today, but the leader of Belize Popular Front Nancy Marin was. The expedition to the Sarstoon served as a moment to reflect on the anniversary of the document that establishes the border between Belize and Guatemala.  B.T.V.’s captain Simon Sedasy took Marin and others to the island where they placed a Belizean flag to assert sovereignty on the Belize side of the Sarstoon. Soon after, however, the Guatemalan Armed Forces removed the flag and handed it over to the group. This afternoon, the Ministry of National Security confirmed the visit to the Sarstoon, but that the group was discouraged from placing a flag there. The release adds that the Patrol Commander at the Forward Operating Base reported that “after the group had gone around the Island and the escorting patrol was returning to the base, the visitors’ vessel returned hurriedly to the island and planted their Belizean flag. At this point a Guatemalan Armed Forces vessel, which had followed them earlier without interference, then proceeded to the Island, removed the flag and handed it back to the Belizean visitors. ” The release notes that on occasions where Guatemalans would place Guatemalan flags on the Sarstoon Island, the Belizean patrol removed them as well.

 

On the Phone: Felix Enriquez, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

“The civilians came to the forward operating base lead by Miss Marin and they wanted to go around the island and plant a flag on the island. We advised them against planting a flag because truth be told, if a flag is planted it will be removed. So after we escorted them around the island, our understanding is that they proceeded back and planted the flag and afterwards the Guatemalans removed the flag and gave them back.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Was there any report of confrontation between the civilians and the Guatemalan soldiers?”

 

On the Phone: Felix Enriquez

“No, no. They did give them back the flag as I have stated. If the conversation as confrontational, I cannot say cause I was not there. From the video that was sent to me, it was just them giving them back. When the Guatemalan civilians plant a Guatemalan flag on that island, our patrol will go and remove it. While we would not interact with the civilians, we would take the flag and give it back to the Guatemalan armed forces; their choice was to give it back to them.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Is this kind of activity in light of the tension between both countries regarding the Sarstoon frowned upon? Where does the ministry stand on that?”

 

On the Phone: Felix Enriquez

“We would prefer that at this time there would be minimal visits to the Sarstoon area because of what is going on. We can’t stop anyone from going there and we will continue to escort them if they advise us of their visit. We can’t stop them from going. We wouldn’t advise it but Belizeans are free to traverse the area. We expect that the Guatemalans will follow the vessels in there; that is their modus operandi. We just want to ensure that whenever Belizeans go there, they return safely home.”


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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