Belize Defense Force Soldiers Return to Sarstoon Forward Operating Base
Soldiers of the Belize Defense Force have returned to the Sarstoon Forward Operating Base. The base has not been operational since last year due to infrastructure damages caused by erosion. Soldiers were forced to vacate the FOB and were patrolling the area daily on boats. The government has since pledged funds to replace the building and construct a climate-resilient base. However, the Deputy Commander of the BDF, Colonel Velasquez, says that in the meantime minor repairs are being done to accommodate troops that have reinstalled at the base.
Colonel Anthony Velasquez, Deputy Commander: “The plans have been designed already however before that starts construction will take place but it will probably take a few months to maybe longer. However in the interim some of our officials from the ministry have went out there as well to see how we can renovate the building to make it more habitable for our soldiers. So the soldiers have been ordered back there as a result of the activities of the group Belize Territorial Volunteers so they have been ordered back to the building so we took some people out there, some carpenters and some contractors what we need to renovate this building right ? The funds will be released and the building will be renovated for the soldiers for the meanwhile until construction of the new building the new state of the art building for our soldiers to operate in that area because like mentioned the Prime Minister is onboard with this and the country of Belize and our leaders realize that that’s a potential flash point and we need to maintain the peace and calm until the ICJ.”
Colonel Velasquez further added that while all Belizeans are free to traverse the Sarstoon, they are encouraged to exercise caution in the area.
Colonel Anthony Valasquez, Deputy Commander: “The BDF has never vacated or moved away from the Sarstoon area. What happened was that the building that was there was deteriorating and is still deteriorated and there was a transition phase in terms of repairing or renovating that building and the soldiers were based at Barranco but they still conducted regular patrols in the area. That area is a potential flashpoint for our country with the Guatemalans and we must be very very careful how we operate in that area. Although all Belizeans are free to go anywhere they want in the country they must be very cognizant of the delicate situation between Belize and Guatemala. Both countries have taken this situation to the ICJ to be resolved. It will be resolved in a few years from now so for the meanwhile I would urge all Belizeans to be very delicate, to be very cognizant of the impact of operating in that area and potentially aggravating military personnel in the area between Belize and Guatemala.”
The FOB was constructed in 2017.