Because of the latest Guatemalan Armed Forces aggression against participants in the Eco Challenge kayak race last Saturday in the Sarstoon, the Belize Territorial Volunteers, the Belize Peace Movement, and the Northern Territorial Volunteers are challenging the Government of Belize to take action. In the event that they fail to do so, these organizations will be taking matters into their own hands. Bobby Lopez of the Belize Peace Movement explains
Bobby Lopez Belize Peace Movement: “ The Belize Peace Movement and the Belize Territorial Volunteers and the Northern Territorial Volunteers are planning to put that if our Government does not respond within seven days we feel that is enough time for them to do something. Lets see them do what they were called and elected to do and what they agreed to do and what have a right to do as a member of the United Nations. If they fail to do it then we are calling on all Belizean to join us in sending a petition from the people of Belize to the United Nations asking for the Security Council to kindly step in and deal with this situation and give us the free movement of our territory including the Sarstoon River; our half of the Sarstoon River.”
Lopez said that the Guatemalan aggression is a violation of the Confidence Building Measures, which was signed between Belize and Guatemala in 2000.
Bobby Lopez Belize Peace Movement: “We see this as a violation of those confidence building measures because certainly the aggression is not promoting good relations. In fact it is doing the absolute opposite. I mean for them to deny our sportsmen and women the right to participate in this activity is total aggression and in Belize and so the Belize Peace Movement joins the BTV in condemning and denouncing this act of aggression against our people. It is also a violation of our constitutional right to freedom of movement within all of Belize. We join the BTV in calling our Government to immediately send a notified Guatemala and the OAS of this incidents which violates the confidence building measures but we further call on our Government. This is an act of aggression by the Military of Guatemala and this is an incident that needs to go to the Security Council of the United Nations and so we call on our government please and in the words of the Assad Shoman who dressed the teachers in 2016 when the aggressions were starting he said our government needs to put a note and to lodge a complaint at the Security Council.”
Giovanni De La Fuente of the Northern Territorial Volunteers pointed out that a portion of Belize’s 8867 square miles is under siege by Guatemala. De La Fuente added that after receiving independence, our position as a sovereign nation has deteriorated in the face of Guatemala’s claim.
Giovanni De La Fuente Northern Territorial Volunteer: “As it relates to our boundaries and our sovereignty I would dare say that we are moving from a point of weakness to another point of weakness and we are moving from weaknesses to weaknesses. Let me briefly outline, 1981 when we achieved Independence; four days after Independence we were admitted. Belize was admitted to the United Nations as the 156th nation. We were the 156th Nation to enter the United Nations with 144 votes for and 1 against. At that time the boundary that Belize shares with Guatemala, our Western Boundary which approximately 150 miles long was clearly demarcated which means that there was open line. Today I would dare say that this line is only a memory. There is now no demarcation on our western boundaries, that occurred gradually after 1981. In the year 2000 we had the singing of the confidence building measures whereby we went from one point for strength to a point of what we would call weakness whereby our boundary was converted to an adjacency zone. That has been in effect since it was signed and then we started seeing the aggressions of the Guatemalans in the Sarstoon.”
The Ministry of National Security issued a statement claiming that the BTV failed to check in with the Forward Operating Base to notify them of their intentions to have a kayak race. They noted that such an encounter with the GAF could have been avoided if BTV had duly informed the BDF and received the escort. The release goes on to say that when the GAF had restrained the group, the situation could have become volatile if the BDF had intervened.