Exclusive : BDF Commander speaks on the June 13 detention of five Belizeans

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Updated: June 24, 2015

On June 13, news surfaced of five Belizean men who were detained by Guatemalan authorities after the men were on Guatemalan territory without being processed by immigration. While the men admitted they did not have documents, they denied the reports that they were misbehaving whilst under the influence of alcohol.  When the incident occurred, Commander of the Belize Defense Force, Brigadier General David Jones, was out of the country on business and was unable to comment on the issue.  Jones recently returned and spoke to Love News spoke on the incident.

Brigadier General David Jones, Commander, B.D.F.:”When the coast guard went out there we weren’t asked to go with them so the BDF on our part we weren’t aware that the coast guard was out there, that was probably the directive they got I can’t comment on the directive they got but from what transpired and what I have heard clearly we believe they were in Belizean soil. The Sarstoon Island as far as I am concerned that Island belongs to Belize however the Guatemalans also have the belief that the island belongs to them even though there is an international boundary. The maps that we have clearly have the island inside Belize. Perhaps the maps they have clearly have it inside Guatemala so there is a dispute there. There isn’t a need for any serious confrontation to happen on such an issue the best thing is to dialogue and to discuss it. If we intend to do something there its cordial that we inform them that something is happening there and then we do it in a professional manner. If there is about to be any confrontation that can lead into  military to military confrontation its best to avoid such a situation if it’s not absolutely necessary. Its best that the people from foreign affairs deal with such an issue because it’s a territorial dispute between both countries. It doesn’t make sense to try and solve it militarily because that is the last resort. If there is way to solve it diplomatically and amicably its best to do that. So I believe that is where our government is now trying to solve it between foreign affairs to foreign affairs. For the BDF we have been in dialogue with the Guatemalan armed forces and they are aware that we intend to put an observation post in that area so the BDF will continue that venture and we will have an observation post stationed at the mouth of the Sarstoon river in the near future.”

The men were processed and fined before being released.  Love News understands that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written a letter of protest to their counterparts in Guatemala but to date we have not been apprised of any forthcoming response