Orlando de la Fuente is one of the leaders for the Northern Territorial Volunteers and had joined his brother Philip de la Fuente in taking a group to Garbutt’s Falls on Saturday, April 30. Their trip was also aimed at commemorating the 157th anniversary of the signing of the 1859 Treaty. Their expedition, however, didn’t garner as much attention as did the one to the Sarstoon. Garbutt’s Falls is the border point in the west that separates Benque Viejo Town from Guatemala’s Melchor De Mencos and with an update on how that trip panned out.
ORLANDO DE LA FUENTE
“I did not go to Garbutt’s falls my brothers did. It was refreshing to see seven Belize police constables were there waiting for the group and escorted them to the monument but it was also disheartening to see that on the other side there were nine fully armed Guatemalans hiding amongst the trees. So the Mr.Lewis Wade pointed out to the OAS and only after he started recording that the Guatemalan Forces retreated and their presence was no longer seen. They were hiding right across the border line above some trees on their side of the border. There were about eight or nine soldiers fully armed watching and recording the ceremony at Garbutt’s Falls. Our group had the police escort and it was refreshing and we hope that it won’t be the last of the police escort that the Government grants to u because maybe this is a baby step but it’s a big deal for us to visit the border region and have government provide police escort for us. I think we have to keep the pressure up on all ends.”
While the Statutory Instrument signed late last week was in an effort to deter civilians from traversing the Sarstoon, Orlando says that in the meeting held with Foreign Affairs and National Security, the officials were also attempting to dissuade them from going to Garbutt’s Falls.
ORLANDO DE LA FUENTE
“Last week we had a meeting with the CEO, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and General Jones of the BDF and Rear Admiral Borland and at that meeting the CEO Lauren Sylvester stated that they are not only asking us to not visit the Sarstoon but she said also that Garbutt’s Falls and the Aguas Turbias Monument were off limits and they didn’t want us to visit those monuments and that was a shock to us because we never thought those were off limits. But then General Jones intervene and he said he didn’t see a problem with visiting Garbutt’s Falls.”
This month marks one year since the Northern Territorial Volunteers first visited the Garbutt’s Falls monument, marking their 7th expedition since their existence.