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Guatemala’s Defense Minister Says There Was No Deployment of Additional Troops But Admits to Encroachments

While the local authorities have now briefed the media and the country on where we stand in the current issue with the Belize/Guatemala territorial differendum, the reports from Guatemala keep surfacing and in a publication dated, April 24 in the Prensa Libre newspaper, there has been admission to encroachments in Belize by Guatemalans; an admission that has reportedly come from the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Martinez.  According to the article, there was a press briefing held in Guatemala surrounding the borders with Belize, in which Minister Martinez had confirmed that, quote, “the marked poverty in that area obliges residents to redouble efforts in trying to earn a living.  He also admitted the lack of projects or actions in that part of the northern department of Peten in order to reverse these kinds of situations.  He explained that the Ministry only has two officials to deal with all the issues concerning the area of the border with Belize and therefore, they cannot cover everything that happens there.”  End of quote.  Meanwhile, the paper has quoted Guatemala’s Ambassador the Belize, Manuel Estuardo Roldan Barrillas as saying, quote, “”The Court is the one that should tell where is the exact point of the boundaries between Guatemala and Belize, however, the inhabitants of those territories are aware of the places through which they cannot pass.  End of quote.  As it relates to the President’s announcement of deployed troops, the Prensa Libre publication wrote, quote, “the head of the Ministry of Defense Williams Mansilla said that after the crime that claimed the life of the minor Julio René Alvarado and wounded his father and younger brother, there was no deployment of new troops ‘but a reshuffling of the 3.000 soldiers who are permanently in Peten and Izabal to reassure Guatemalans in the area’.  End of quote.  The story went on to note that according to Guatemala’s Defense Minister, he had spoken with the head of the office of the Organization of American States in the Adjacency Zone and explained that the Army of Guatemala was not conducting an intimidation action or trying to cause an escalation of the situation.”  End of quote.