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May 24, 2019

AG Not Sold on the Idea of Occupying Reclaimed Territorial Waters

Opposition Senator Eamon Courtenay suggested during a meeting of the upper house on Tuesday that Belizeans, including civilians and members of the armed forces, begin to utilize the twelve miles of territorial waters allowed under international law.  The notion comes with the amendment of the Maritime Areas Act which initially allowed Guatemala access to the high seas by reducing Belize’s territorial waters to three miles.  However, the idea does not sit well with Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte who is wary of inflaming an already tense situation with Guatemala.

 

Isani Cayetano

“I notice that in the Senate on Tuesday you were rather guarded in your response to the suggestion that we have reclaimed the full twelve miles of our territorial waters that we should be able to make our presence known and this suggestion came from Senator Courtenay that perhaps the coast guard and artisanal fishermen, Belizeans on a whole should be able to enjoy that extra twelve miles freely.  You were a bit guarded on that.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General

“Well I was only a bit guarded with that because then we also want to make sure that we don’t do anything to unnecessarily provoke a situation.  That’s our maritime area, that’s what we’ll be enforcing, that’s what the B.D.F., coast guard and everybody will be patrolling to make sure that we maintain the integrity of the border; however, at the same time if we don’t have to get into any unnecessary wrangling or quarrel with the Guatemalans then why do that?  Why do that when we have a court matter that will go and that we are very confident will come down in our favor.  We don’t need to quarrel when we know that the law and righteousness and everything is on our side.  So while he is correct in the sense that now that we have re-declared it officially, by law, naturally we’re going to enforce it, but you don’t want to give the impression that oh, all of a sudden now because we have declared that, we will cause any unnecessary trouble.”


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