Earlier in our newscast we told you of several Guatemalan fishing vessels in our waters when we arrived at the Sarstoon this morning. Whilst there, we learnt that this is the norm on a day to day basis and in trying to change that situation in a peaceful manner, the protocols came about.
“We have seen fisher folk operating in this area for decades, these people, as you may notice on the other side of the river there is a village there, as long as they stay within their waters we don’t interfere with them because in the past when we passed here and they were inside the Belizean side we would ask them to go back over but we try to create a friendly relationship with them and working with the Guatemalan Military which is the reason why we were drafting those protocols for them to establish with us. The Military want to work with each other because there are Guatemalan Civilians and Belizean Civilians who should work and live in this area peacefully so we try to maintain a relationship with them. As long as they’re not breaking laws then we don’t interfere with them.”
Love News asked Commander Jones if he feels that the recent rejection of the protocols by Guatemala will affect their performance at the Sarstoon.
“It won’t affect our duties, we will continue to enforce Belizean laws here. It is sad that it was rejected but that is something political. Our wish, both militaries, we would all wish that the politicians would come to an agreement and find a resolution or even to agree on a protocol in this area because in the absence of a protocol there is going to be tensions because militaries work on the directives of their political leaders and if they are directed to create some sort of intervention or tension in the area it’s going to happen. We will have to continue working closely with the military over there to try and ensure that there is peace and tranquility while working in this area.”
As we told you in a previous newscast, when Guatemala rejected the proposals they recommended that the status quo be maintained, which by their definition is that Belize is to seek authorization to enter the Sarstoon as they had declared the 1859 Treaty null and void. Commander Jones says they will not seek permission and Guatemala’s definition of the status quo is inaccurate.
“As far as we are concerned there is no such status quo, there is no such new protocol as they have alluded to. We’ve been operating in here for decades going all the way to Cadenas and we’ve never had to ask permission to go into this international river and we are not intending on doing that either. We know the territory is divided in half and we have equal rights of operating in the Sarstoon so it’s not going to deter us from doing our functions here in the Sarstoon.”
Love News understands that Belize will be responding to Guatemala on their rejection of the proposals.