The incident between members of the Belize Coast Guard officers and Guatemalan Naval officers near the Sarstoon Island in southern Belize has been an issue of concern for many and while Belize’s Ministry of National Security has contacted their counterparts in Guatemala regarding the issue and are still awaiting a response, Love News spoke to Vice Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, Commander Elton Bennett on what the Coast Guard officers were doing on the island.
“As a part of the Coast Guard strategic development we saw the need to establish a forward operating base at the entrance to the Sarstoon; this would have been a joint operating base along with the Belize Defense Force and this is just on the territorial boundary between Belize and Guatemala. So the Coast Guard was tasked to conduct a reconnaissance in the area in order to site the most suitable location to erect the forward operating base and this was what the Coast Guard patrol was doing in this area. The Forward Operating Base will guarantee national presence twenty four hours in the entrance to the Sarstoon. This will be able to address cross border issues in terms of illegal fishing, contraband, illegal migration and also territorial stands on Belizean territory so it will a multi task forward operating base, an initiative of the Government of Belize to address those issues that are developing in the southern area of the Sarstoon.”
Commander Bennett says that while he cannot and will not comment on the incident with the Guatemalan naval officers, he can say that his officers did remain on the island to complete their task and had departed from there at around noon on Thursday, May 28.