On their way to the Island the contingent encountered Guatemalan military who tried to impede their progress.
Hipolito Novelo reporting…
“The group got on the boats and began heading to Sarstoon Island with the intention to circle around it in order to make a powerful statement, “the Sarstoon Island is for Belize.” Hundreds of yards away were Guatemalan armed forces including a gun boat but the Belize Territorial Volunteers pushed full steam ahead. As the Belizean group was making their way to the mouth of the Sarstoon River, the Guatemalan armed forces began to move heading toward the lead boat that Orlando De La Fuente was in. Their intention was to block passage and prevent Belizeans from traversing through Belizean waters. The argument continued but De La Fuente was not having it and he took over the boat and bravely drove past the two Guatemalan boats but he was quickly followed by one of them and the argument began once again. De la Fuente would not reverse because he was sure that he was in Belizean waters. With that in mind he would not take orders from Guatemalan armed forces that were also in Belizean waters. Once again De La Fuente managed to make his way through and he sped towards Sarstoon Island.
De la Fuente and those on the boat continued their way and so did we. The Guatemalan vessel followed de la Fuente. The fact is that the Guatemalan armed vessel felt it was necessary to escort Belizeans in Belizean waters around an island that as far as we are concerned is for Belize. All of what was happening was observed by both the Guatemalan media and officials from the Organization of American States, OAS.
“This is our island on the map and we have the Guatemalan Navy stopping us from going on our side of the river. They are on our side of the river trying to stop us from going to the island. The Belizean people need to understand that we are in our waters, this is our country they have no right to be here. They can’t tell us to put on a life vest unless we are in international waters according to the laws of the sea. They can’t tell us to go this way or that way as long as we are in Belizean waters and the Belizean people need to understand this and back up people like Mr. De La Fuente, and Will Mehia and all the people involved in this whole demonstration against the spinelessness of our Belizean government
Geovanni Brackett, President, COLA
“And when we have spineless men in government who are afraid to patrol these waters and who are afraid to defend our people this is the kind of thing. What you are seeing here is that local Belizean people have more testicular fortitude than our men in government and parliament. And so today what could have been a tragedy thank God it didn’t accelerate but what we have seen here is a need for our government to step up the level of the way they defend us in the diplomatic channels.
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News
And with that, the Belize Territorial Volunteers successfully circled Sarstoon Island and all Belizeans returned to Barranco Village unhurt and with no regrets that they were part of the expedition.