BTV Visits Sarstoon; Boycott Efforts Continue Against Guatemala

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Updated: May 24, 2016

While the top foreign affairs officials from both Belize and Guatemala were making their way to Turkey for these bilateral meetings, a handful of Belizeans had ventured out onto the Sarstoon on Sunday.  Head of the Belize Territorial Volunteers, Wil Maheia led that small group including Bobby Lopez of the Belize Progressive Party.  According to Maheia, the military presence and aggression had tremendously eased at the Sarstoon.

WIL MAHEIA

“We continue in the belief that we should not be restricted in moving within the country and so far for the past since they signed this SI we can’t go beyond Baranco so yesterday we were just lucky or something but yesterday there were about over 100 military people in town, today while all of them cleared out we just put the boats in the water and pushed out. We went by Barranco and there was not even a military person, no coast guard, no BDF and we drove all the way to the mouth of the river. When we got to the mouth of the river we decided that it’s only four more days let’s not break the law that we don’t agree with so we decided to just hold on for the next three days until the law expires. Today was uneventful, we went there clearly no BDF, no police, no coast guard boat nothing we could have gone all the way. What we were surprised about was that we did not see a BDF boat at the Forward Operating Base. Maybe it was there and we didn’t get close enough to it but we didn’t see any.”

As you heard, there was an influx of law enforcement officers in Toledo on Saturday and it is suspected that that was in preparation of the expedition that the People’s United Party had planned as Maheia told Love News.

WIL MAHEIA

“Clearly they came here to block the PUP, unfortunately the PUP did not show up but clearly I counted at least six military boats, BDF and Coast Guard and hundreds of policemen  and special police units and people who work in the enforcement agency in the government so they were here for that. Last night I get that they pulled out, we put our boats in, we went south and not even a police asked us where we were going.”

The PUP expedition, however, never occurred as late Saturday night it was called off on the grounds that the boat owners were reportedly being intimidated and subsequently had feared that their boats would be confiscated; the other reason given by some within the party was that the mission was called off since John Briceno’s father was critically ill.  Maheia spoke to the cancellation of the trip by the PUPs.

WIL MAHEIA

“As far as them not making the trip I understand it is a situation where I understand John’s situation but lots of people around town big talking well there is a deputy and there are other people. People would have understood if the leader didn’t make it but there are other people and as far as boats are concerned the PUP have enough members with a lot of boats but so that is no excuse but any how a lot of people that are disappointed that they did not make the trip because a lot of people showed up hoping to at least see them making the trip so that was very disappointing to a lot of people.

As we reported earlier”, the Statutory Instrument is looking to be rescinded and there will be free movement in the Sarstoon.  But aside from that free movement and the formal agreement that the two countries are looking to formulate, there are other ends that remain out there; primarily, the public campaign to boycott all products and services by and from Guatemala.  It is a campaign that has taken on a life of its own as vendors in the neighbouring Peten, Guatemala are protesting to their Government since they have been losing revenue due to the boycotting efforts by Belizeans.  As is a tradition of sorts, the mechanical rides are in Belize from Guatemala and there is a campaign to not support the rides whilst explaining to the children the rationale behind not taking them out to the Hour Bar Field.  Jose Luis Uc Espat was part of a two-man show on Saturday holding up placards appealing to Belizeans not to go on the rides.  Love News met up with him over the weekend.

JOSE LUIS UC ESPAT

“I’m out here because it’s inconceivable how come our Mayor and our government will concede to the permission to the Guatemalan companies that bring these rides to our country, giving our economic and financial state that this country is in at the moment, given the situation with the continuous aggression on behalf of Guatemala and Belize has never step foot on Guatemalan ground but it’s a bigger picture that the Belizean Citizens need to understand. The power of our money is something that we have yet to understand. Right now in Petén and Melchor they are feeling because Belizeans are no longer going to buy. Tomorrow as I  speak here they will station a march in Melchor against their own Guatemalan Government because the Belizeans are no longer purchasing and they are feeling the cramp. I try to reach out to every single Belizean out there, please support the boycott against Guatemala; we need to let these people understand that we are no pushover.”

In recent conversations with some Belizeans, Love News was told that with the new school year coming up, they will be opting to purchase uniform material in Belize City and have them sewn by local seamstresses.  This will reflect a major economic blow for businesses like Little Melchor and the other stores that carry the Guatemalan manufactured uniforms.  Meanwhile on social media, there is a page that lists several products imported from Guatemala coupled with an appeal to not buy them.