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Nov 12, 2019

Ministry of National Security Says Guatemalan Squatters Have Ceased Illegal Construction

Jorge Espat

Espat wrote to the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pat Andrews on the issue of Guatemalan squatting on his land. Espat tells Andrews that he has waited four months for this issue to be resolved and does not see the end of it. While the land is privately owned, Espat recognized the implications that the issue might have internationally. Espat says that he has been patiently allowing it to be resolved in a diplomatic way to avoid a confrontation or cause tension between both countries. He says that if he didn’t hear from the Ministry then he will seek legal advice. On November eleventh, the ministry wrote to Espat. The three-sentence response says the ministry is “actively engaged in discussions with the Guatemalan authorities and with officials of the O.A.S. on the matter. We certainly have no objection to your seeking legal advice on it.”  In a press statement, the Ministry of National Security says that it has been actively taking steps to address the issue regarding the illegal settlements and encroachments by Guatemalans. According to the release, since becoming aware of this situation, high-level officials within the Ministry of National Security, the Belize Defence Force, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have made multiple visits to the area. A joint operation by the B.D.F. and the GAF was conducted to officially inform the settlers that they are illegally inhabiting Belizean territory and to provide a timeline for the voluntary removal of their belongings.  The ministry says that all illegal construction has ceased since that joint operation conducted in October 2019.  Espat, however, says otherwise.

 

Jorge Espat, Private Land Owner

“I had sent them a very good letter indicating to them that I had all the intentions and in good faith and in amicable way to try to and of course in the interest of our country in a delicate situation try to have it easy as possible and giving them time after time and setting a deadline and now with this deadline of end of October not being met with government I decided now to write them a letter. Since no positive response and sort of a none indication of perhaps interest I am seeking legal advice and a very brief letter of two sentences coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a minister. I mean two sentences.”

 

Reporter

“You feel that they are not giving it the priority it deserves?”

 

Jorge Espat

“No priority. Perhaps no interest. The letter just stated that they are working on it and I can seek legal advice. As easy as that. No interest. No indication. Unfortunately it is a sad story given the fact that yes it is a private property and I am in the belief that it is a national issue even though that it is private property. First of there is squatting. Second of all, with a reported given by me to the police station the Act of Immigration law should make it automatic kicked by first of all with the report, looking in the area and if they don’t have documents. They are illegal in the country.”


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