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Aug 8, 2019

GAF Crosses Over Into Belizean Waters at Sarstoon

Wil Maheia

Over the weekend, a trip to the Sarstoon by SATIIM was completed without interruption from the Guatemalan Armed Forces.  But it was not the case this morning when a small group of boaters, including BTV founder Wil Maheia, headed up the Sarstoon River to conduct a survey of gill nets being used within the waterways adjoining the river.  While they proceeded upstream without escort from the Belize Defense Force personnel, they were followed closely by members of the GAF.  According to Maheia, the GAF patrol clearly crossed over into Belizean waters as it pursued the vessel they were traveling in.

 

On the Phone: Wil Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“Okay, so this morning, a small group of us, one, two, three of us decided to do like a little river monitoring on the Sarstoon River because the last time we went there we saw a lot of gillnets in the tributaries.  The tributaries are small streams that empty into the river especially during the flood time.  So we decided to go up their and check on that and while we were going up there, first we did the normal, stopped in and checked in at the B.D.F. base, told them what we were going to do and then we proceeded.  We told the B.D.F. we were not going to be long so they said okay, that’s fine.  And as soon as we started going, five minutes after we started going, who did we see appear behind us was the Guatemalan Armed Forces.  But you know, like I said, it was just three of us so I told the captain we’re not going to get into any confrontation today.  So we checked the last tributary and then we turned the boat around and they just came right up on our tail and I told the captain okay, just put the boat in forward motion and let’s go and if they decided to stop us we will not because we’re not that far away from the forward operating base anyhow.  So we continued to come back towards the forward operating base and they were just like, right on our tails, clearly in Belize’s territory on the north side of the island, of the Sarstoon Island itself.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Was there any escort by the B.D.F. or folks at the forward operating base?”

 

On the Phone: Wil Maheia

“No, there were no escorts and those guys were very nice.  We told them we didn’t need an escort because we wouldn’t be long and we were not going to go all the way up.  So they were like okay and then when we came back we stopped and, well they saw what happened because when the GAF tried to, well they didn’t try to intercept us because we were in front of them and our boat was picking up speed.  But by the time they got to us we were clearly like almost at the forward operating base so they just eased down.”


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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