In response to the incident on the Sarstoon on Saturday, March 12, between the Guatemalan Armed Forces and the Belize military, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has expressed solidarity and support for Belize. The statement from CARICOM reads, quote, “The Caribbean Community expresses its grave concern over the incident which took place at the Sarstoon River, the southern boundary of Belize with the Republic of Guatemala, between Belizean Security Forces and Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) on 12 March 2016”. End of quote. The statement went to say, quote, “the Guatemalan Armed Forces entered Belizean internal waters and acted in an intimidating manner towards the Belizean forces at their Forward Operating Base on Belize’s mainland at the mouth of the Sarstoon River. The GAF claimed that the River belonged to them, although the mid-channel of the River was the settled and agreed border between the Republic of Guatemala and the United Kingdom long before Belize’s independence in 1981. Since Independence Belize has always continued to assert its sovereignty over the area”. End of quote. In its statement, CARICOM said “although the incident ended peacefully following contact at the highest level between military and political leaders on both sides, CARICOM notes with grave concern the tension caused as a result of the incident. The Caribbean Community restates the importance it places on respect for international law and the sanctity of treaties and deeply regrets any actions of the GAF which violate the sovereignty of Belize and attempt to change the status quo prior to the submission of the Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory to the International Court of Justice in accordance with the Special Agreement ratified by both parties.” The 15-member state organization, which includes Belize, added that it was reiterating “ its strong and unequivocal support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize and calls on the government of Guatemala to agree to Confidence Building Measures, in conjunction with the Organization of American States, to ensure peace and stability along the southern border of Belize with the Republic of Guatemala”. Love News asked Prime Minister Dean Barrow, if CARICOM was one of the entities that he had sent a letter to on the Sarstoon issue as he did state that he had sent correspondence to the US and the UK among others.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow continues as Chairman of CARICOM up until July 2016.