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Guatemala Tells CARICOM Sarstoon River Is Theirs

There has been much concern regarding the Belize/Guatemala matter over the years but as of recent, those concerns have increased especially since the Saturday, March 12 incident at the Sarstoon.  Since then we have been reporting on matters arising out of that incident including a statement from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) expressing its solidarity with Belize on the matter.  A portion of that statement from CARICOM reads, quote, “the Guatemalan Armed Forces entered Belizean internal waters and acted in an intimidating manner towards the Belizean forces at their Forward Operating Base on Belize’s mainland at the mouth of the Sarstoon River. The GAF claimed that the River belonged to them, although the mid-channel of the River was the settled and agreed border between the Republic of Guatemala and the United Kingdom long before Belize’s independence in 1981.  Since Independence Belize has always continued to assert its sovereignty over the area”.  End of quote.  It is a strong statement considering that CARICOM represents 15 countries and it is one that was not taken lightly by the Guatemalan authorities and they made certain that that was expressed in a release dated Friday, March 18, 2016.  In that release from Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry, they have reaffirmed that the Sarstoon River is Guatemalan territory.  The statement denies any provocation of sorts by the Guatemalan Armed Forces and all that was done by the Guatemalan military was to advise them to follow security protocols along the river.  As it relates to the statement from CARICOM, particularly the portion that refers to the southern border of Belize, the release says that the Government of Guatemala had denounced the Convention between the Republic of Guatemala and Britain regarding the borders of British Honduras.  The closing statement in the release is the most alarming as it goes on to say that the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs is once again reaffirming their ownership of the Sarstoon River and they will continue to do so until the matter is resolved at the International Court of Justice.