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Nov 26, 2019

2 Guatemalan Families Have Settled Illegally on Belize’s Side of the Border

Commander of the Belize Defense Force, Brigadier General Steven Ortega confirmed that two Guatemalan families have illegally settled on Belize’s side of the border in Benque.  The Barrio el Juda squatting problem continues to be an issue not only for private landowner Jorge Espat, but for the government as well. Ortega says that the O.A.S. has confirmed that two permanent structures have been built on this side of the border and the Guatemalan encroachers have been informed that they need to be relocated back to Guatemala. But it is a sticky situation that requires skillful diplomacy to avoid an international incident since both countries are heading to the International Court of Justice for settlement of the claim to Belizean territory.  According to Ortega, the Guatemalan squatters have not resisted relocation but the responsibility falls on the Guatemalan government to speed up the process in accordance with the Confidence Building Measures. 

 

 

Steven Ortega

Brig. Gen. Steven Ortega, Commander, B.D.F.

“We discovered the structures in Belize and we passed it up through our chain of command meaning the patrol on the ground discovered it, pass it up to fore headquarters. We passed it up to our Ministry. They forwarded it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office. From there it goes to the O.A.S. office and they have a verification team that goes out and sites it. But because this area is so close to the border their G.P.S. readings they had to send it further to geospatial unit to Mexico City and when it came back, it verified that yes they were in Belize just about ten to fifteen feet or about five meters there about.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“How many families?”

 

Brig. Gen. Steven Ortega

“There are two structures and we believe two families.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Have they showed any resistance in relocation?”

 

Brig. Gen. Steven Ortega

“No they haven’t. We have done a combined patrol with the Guatemalan military and I am sure that the diplomats on both sides have visited as well. But I can only speak from the military portion. We did a patrol there with the Guatemalan army and they have explained to them that they are in Belize and the people understand that yes they are in Belize and they will have to relocate back into Guatemala.”


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