Belize Asserts Sovereignty Amidst Recent Border Tensions with Guatemala

Belize Asserts Sovereignty Amidst Recent Border Tensions with Guatemala

It’s been a little over two weeks since members of the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) had a confrontation on the Sarstoon River with the Belize Defence Force. The GAF had come into Belizean waters and demanded the BDF leave the area on April 25. Minister of National Defence and Border Security Florencio Marin Jr. spoke on the incident, saying that the government is still working on getting an official meeting with Guatemalans.  He emphasized that amicable relations with Guatemala is important, but that Belize will not be ceding any territory.

Florencio Marin Jr, Minister of National Defence and Border Security: “It is extremely important because I mean we do share a border, that will not change, so it is essential that we both are able to do our activities together and it would be even better if we can coordinate how we try to maintain security in the Sarstoon. They have been increasing patrols how they do their operations and that’s not one of our issues. But we will never cede sovereignty, the Belize Defence Force, the Ministry, this government have never compromised on sovereignty of Belize so we do our work.”

While Minister Marin says there is yet to be an official meeting, we can tell you that there has been a meeting between the Belize and the Guatemala Foreign Ministers.  Minister Francis Fonseca was in Guatemala earlier this month where they both agreed that the Sarstoon Protocol remains crucial and urgent.

According to Marin, one of the burning issues raised was the continued confrontations with the GAF was the need for verification exercises conducted by the Organization of American States (OAS). Commander of the BDF Brigadier General Azariel Lorea says that the OAS has been hindered in their work due to the need for military protection by both countries. Minister Marin says that Belize has made sure to keep in close dialogue with the OAS regarding verifications. 

Florencio Marin Jr, Minister of National Defence and Border Security: “We are always in communication with the OAS for these verification. This is essential to us. It’s all part of the confidence building measures so certain areas particularly within the adjacency zone we have to get the official verification on them. So we will always continue on these operations. We also working with the OAS informing them to be able to get quick verification. Sometimes yes they are not as fast as we would like but we need the verification.”

Following the encounter Guatemala said that it would increase its presence in the Sarstoon and maintains that it was the BDF that ventured into their territory.

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