With the soldiers doing their best to carry out their duties and maintain peace and civility at our borders, there is a concern regarding the territorial volunteers who have made several trips to our border areas and have continued to do so. As a matter of fact, they are planning a trek to the area of the Sarstoon Island for Sunday, August 16 but the head of the Belize Defense Force, Commander David Jones, is advising against their plans.
“If they would ask my advice I would advise them not to go. The reason for this is because the border between Belize and Guatemala and the country of Belize has a territorial dispute with Guatemala. They have professed that almost half of the country belongs to them at times, at times they profess that the entire country belongs to them and that area in particular near the Sarstoon they are contesting that the island has never been in dispute. Our version of what we know is that the Sarstoon Island belongs to Belize, they have a different view. It doesn’t make sense to have a confrontation over the issue, it is better for the foreign affairs to foreign affairs try and work out that problem. The Belize Defense Force has a long standing relationship with the Guatemalan Armed Forces we have excellent relations with them. When we do operations along the border we discuss it with each other, we share intelligence, we share information and at times we even work jointly. Now having the territorial volunteers go out there will only aggravate a situation with the Guatemalan Armed Forces because their foreign affairs contest that the Sarstoon Island has never been in dispute; we are of a different view but it doesn’t make sense for them to go there to try and aggravate a situation to the point where they may want to see a military confrontation; it doesn’t make sense. It’s better for the people who have been elected to deal with such a situation and don’t have our own civilians put our security forces at risk trying to escalate a situation for our military to have military to military confrontation it doesn’t make sense. They will only put our security forces at risk and will jeopardize the relation that our foreign affairs have had with Guatemala and also jeopardize the relationship that military to military we share with each other. We are working well with each other without having anyone trying to aggravate the situation or trying to escalate a situation or a media event to try to see if it goes to the point where there may be a military escalation, it doesn’t make sense. So I would advise them not to go there but to sit and discuss it with us privately and perhaps they could listen to our advice.”
“Has anybody from the volunteers requested your accompaniment?”
“No, recently they have not.”
But basically the force will be on alert for when they do go to the Sarstoon Island?”
“Well, not really because that is an issue for Foreign Affairs. It’s a border dispute between two countries. It doesn’t make sense to put military there to show force against the Guatemalan military it doesn’t make sense. You can do things in a smarter way than having them go over at the Sarstoon Island, I don’t think, is the best way to try and resolve that issue because our civilians going there will not change the mind of the Guatemalans in regards to the dispute that has been there for over 150 years.”
Love News understands that the group of volunteers planning to go the area of the Sarstoon Island next week is from the Belize Territorial Volunteers. A public invitation has been issued on social media for volunteers.