PUP condemns Government’s response to Sarstoon Island expedition

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Updated: August 18, 2015

The People’s United Party called a press conference today to expand on their take on the expedition that more than one hundred Belizeans participated in. That expedition, led by Wil Maheia of the Belize Territorial Volunteers and Orlando de la Fuente of the Northern Territorial Volunteers, went to Sarstoon Island being disputed by the Guatemalan Government as being part of their country. To prove that it is not, the volunteers journeyed down south with the intention to circle the island with Belizean flags in hand. On their way, they were intercepted by Guatemalan armed forces which attempted to stop them from entering the mouth of the Sarstoon Island. However, Belizeans were able to pass through the blockage and circle Sarstoon Island. Today Leader of the Opposition, Francis Fonseca spoke of the situation.

Francis Fonseca, Opposition leader

“My friends today we are filled with two distinctly opposite emotions; pride and shame.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News

PUP Leader, Francis Fonseca, is speaking about the trip that more than a hundred Belizeans took to Sarstoon Island on Sunday and the statements that the Government of Belize had issued on it. “

 Francis Fonseca, Opposition Leader

“Pride in our Belizean citizens who on Sunday August 16th gathered in the beautiful community of Baranco in southern Belize and embarked on a journey of courage and determination in support of Belize’s territorial integrity and sovereign dignity. At the same time we experience shame, shame in our Belize government that failed in its most fundamental of duties, most fundamental of its obligations, the protection of its citizens and the protection and preservation of our nation state.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News

Fonseca called a press conference this morning at Independence Hall demanding that the Government of Belize insist on an apology from the Guatemalan Government. 

 Francis Fonseca, Opposition Leader

“We demand that our Belize government seek a full and unequivocal apology from the Guatemalan government by way of a diplomatic note for their military’s actions on Sunday. A full explanation of why they acted in the manner in which they did, a formal commitment that such actions and behavior will not be repeated and that once and for all this most recent practice of the Guatemalan military of stopping and questioning Belizean vessels in Belizean territorial waters that must be put to an end immediately.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News

Fonseca says, that the Forward Operating Base should also be built immediately.

 Francis Fonseca, Opposition Leader

“We demand of our government that they reassert control over the Sarstoon River. When is it that we lost control of Sarstoon River and control over our part of that channel? We demand that they build the forward operating base immediately, there should be no delay in that matter.”

Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News

After the volunteers trip, the National Security Council issued out a statement in which it that only did the volunteers not only transited the north but the south channel of the river and that quote, “assertion and maintenance of sovereignty over the Sarstoon island and our half of the river, is best left to the Belizean military and Belizean diplomats”.

 Senator Lisa Shoman

“We did go into the southern channel but be very careful. Half of the southern channel is ours. The midpoint of the southern channel marks the international boundary there is no way to go around the island without entering the southern channel which is the main channel of the river but at all times all the boats remained in Belizean internal waters.”

Sylvia Gillett

“And all the reporters that were there can verify this. We entered through the northern channel, we circled the Sarstoon Island and exited through the southern channel which we kept to our waters so at all times all our Belizean boats were in Belizean waters. So that National Security Council report is a total lie it really pissed me off and who wrote that I don’t have kind words for the person.”