Territorial Volunteers Organize Eco-Challenge and Peace Concert

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Updated: September 14, 2016

The Sarstoon Island Eco Challenge and Concert for Peace has been scheduled to take place this coming Saturday in Barranco Village. The event was organized by the Belize Territorial Volunteers and will have three activities- a peace concert, a five aside football marathon and the most concerning of them all- a kayak and dory race which will lead competitors  to  Sarstoon Island. Hipolito Novelo reports.

HIPOLITO NOVELO

“More than twenty groups have signed up to participate in the first annual Sarstoon Island Eco Challenge. The challenge, slated to take place on Saturday, will begin in Barranco Village and paddlers are expected to enter the Sarstoon River and make their way around Sarstoon Island. This is where the concern lies. Both the island and river are being aggressively claimed by the Guatemalan Government. The Belize Territorial Volunteers is spearheading the event and its Leader, Wil Maheia, says it will be peaceful.”

WIL MAHEIA

“It’s going to go from Barranco into the Sarstoon River, around the Sarstoon Island which as we all know belongs to Belize and back to Baranco.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO

“Do you feel you will be agitating the situation?”

WIL MAHEIA

“I don’t think that I am agitating any situation given the fact that that area is undisputed, that island belongs to Belize, it is part of the Sarstoon Temash National Park.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO

“In the recent past we have seen where Guatemalan navy officers have prevented Belizeans from entering the river.”

WIL MAHEIA

“If that happens our military is there, the Guatemalans will then be illegally crossing into Belize, we all know where the border line is at, the Sarstoon Island is clearly inside Belizean waters as is established by everybody and all the maps in the world clearly show that so we would hope that if there are incursions from Guatemala that our immigration officers would be there to stop them, our military would be there to arrest them if the Guatemalan Military crosses into Belize because they are violating our sovereignty and they are breaking our laws by having weapons inside Belize’s territory without a license.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO

“BDF Commander Brigadier General, David Jones, compared the BTV to a Guatemalan group that has carried out two excursions to Sarstoon Island recently. According to Jones, both Guatemalans and Belizeans should be able to access the island without any problems.”

DAVID JONES

“I don’t have any complaints in regards to these people because it is an area of dispute, it’s not settled yet what is going to happen ,both governments of Belize and Guatemala are still negotiating trying to reach a settlement and also trying to at least establish a protocol in the Sarstoon River. Until that is done I’m not too concerned with what is happening because the military and the Belize Defense Force are working closely with each other to ensure there is no tension in the area between civilians as well. Belizean and Guatemalans should have equal access to the river and respect ecological and maritime laws that should be in either international boundary or local waters for any forces.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO

“How would you answer to criticism that someone may have that everything has been so tranquil in the Sarstoon over the past few months and that you guys are just kicking up dust?”

WIL MAHEIA

“Well if everything is tranquil we will prove to the nation that it is tranquil and that is how we would like it to be but we can’t have people telling us it is tranquil but you can’t go there.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO

“And the reason they are going there this time is to promote the use of  Sarstoon Island and river by Belizeans in an eco-friendly and sustainable fashion”

WIL MAHEIA

“My idea is to highlight what is taking place in that area which is the illegal fishing and in the Sarstoon Temash National Park illegal logging and illegal cutting of the palms. So the eco part of it so that people can get first-hand experience of what is really happening on the ground there, not to mention that the amount of garbage that is coming in from Guatemala and Honduras that is washing up on the seashores there it is just amazing the amount of garbage that has washed up there recently. So hopefully we will bring awareness to all of these ecological problems that we are now experiencing in the area.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO

“More than twenty five groups have signed up for the competition. First place will take home one thousand dollars. Busses will leave Jalacte, Silver Creek, Punta Gorda and San Ignacio on Saturday morning. If you are interested in going you can contact, Mario Lara through his Facebook page. Reporting for Love News, I am Hipolito Novelo.”