A group of Coast Guard officers were honored today for the part they played in an incident at Sarstoon Island last week. As we reported, a contingent of Belize Coast Guard personnel were on Sarstoon Island when they were approached by Guatemalan Naval Officers who ordered them to vacate the island. The officers stood their ground and remained overnight on the island. They left the following day after ensuring that the proper authorities were appraised of the situation. Today a special ceremony took place where the officers were recognized for their bravery and courage. Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, Admiral John Borland addressed the officers.
ADMIRAL JOHN BORLAND
“First of all I want to make it explicitly clear that we will defend this country with everything that God has given to us. We will steer upon the cannons mount, undoubted. We will fight to the last man, to the last bullet, to the last drop of blood. Withdrawal or retreat is just a phase in military operations just like the advance attack, defense, encirclement or break out the retreat. A connotation often associated with cowardice is a valuable tactic to be used by any sound military commander. Just like the viper must recoil or retreat before strikes or attacks so must an army make use of this tactic. You are not hostile, belligerent or aggressive. Instead you were the opposite. You were civil, calm but assertive, confident in your abilities, your leadership and command. You displayed nerves of steel to remain composed and mission oriented. Your display of courage and commitment and defiance is consistent with the Coast Guard core values. This was your define moment and is indeed the defining moment in every man’s life who puts on a uniform and swears to protect and defend this country. This country that we love, that has given everything to us that means everything to us, in the end we must trust our civilian leadership. We must let defense diplomacy and in the words of our Minister of Foreign affairs preventative diplomacy take its course and that is what happened and will continue to happen. We are one team, one fight and we stand as our motto says UTRINQUE PARATUS – Ready for anything.”
Minister of National Security, John Saldivar was also on hand.
“But I must at this time publicly commend the Admiral and the Commander who right on the spot, in the face of these challenges decided and had the courage to stand up to those who would bully us. I immediately joined the Admiral and the Commander in indicating that the official position of the Ministry of National Security is to complete our mission and not be deterred by those who would see us fail in that mission. But it was indeed a courageous moment and an act of supreme bravery on the part of those on the ground that we were able to stand firm and to complete our mission.”
Belize has lodged a formal complaint with Guatemala on the incident.