Tonight, the Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) is calling on the government to take a stance against the recent incursions by Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) into Belizean territory. The group wants the Briceno Government to lodge a strong protest to the Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. More than that, the organization suggests that Belize make a report to the international community about the incidents of (GAF) troops trespassing in the Adjacency Zone. The FCD believes that the incursions are an act of intimidation and provocation providing ‘fuel’ for local Guatemalan villagers to believe that this part of the country belongs to them. Executive Director Raphael Manzanero says that in all his years of experience, the GAF have never ventured this far into Belizean territory.
Raphael Manzanero, Executive Director: “Since the Jimenez family have been operating in the area for quite some good years certainly we thought that organizing the operation in there was going to be highly improved. We knew that there could have been some level of hostility from those members of the Jimenez family in that region and as how it basically evolved. We were able to see that indeed the Guatemalan civilians were basically I guess apprehended with apprehensions that the joint forces were destroying the crops and the fences in that area that they claim of course belongs to them. But this is something that needs to be verified and confirmed in the situation along there which basically was done. So in reality the OAS and in fact the Jimenez family have been informed over the years that they technically have been within the Belizean territory and so it really shouldn’t be anything new to them. So we have been recommending for years now about that farming activity that has been advancing within the Chiquibul National Park for some years. The remoteness and the ruggedness of the terrain had basically halted to the extent of doing strong deterrence in that region. So we saw then the civilians but to our apprehension then to us we saw also the Guatemalan Armed Forces that I would say from my experience in the Chiquibul it is the first time that we’re seeing the entry of Guatemalan Armed Forces up to that extent within the adjacency zone three hundred, four hundred meters and that is something that for us it marks a red light that it needs to be very much clearly indicated and described because as we all know incursions from Guatemalan people have been ongoing for many years not only in the Chiquibul but in other regions as well but to our dismay having the Guatemalan Armed Forces coming one day, Friday and then the second day into Belizean territory is something that should not be taken lightly that is pretty much our concern.”
Manzanero also noted that the FCD remains present in other parts of the country, where Guatemalans have been illegally occupying and cultivating land.