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National Security Minister comments on recent Sarstoon Situation

Earlier this week, the Belizean public were shocked that the Belize Defense Force and the Belize Territorial Volunteers were still receiving hostile treatment from the Guatemalan Armed Forces in the Sarstoon. Yesterday, the Government of Belize issued a press release in which they said they are lodging a strong protest note to their counterparts in Guatemala, and that they were disappointed in the actions of the GAF considering Belize’s recent vote to go to the ICJ. Today, Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, said that he doesn’t believe that the decision to confront the BDF is one made by the country of Guatemala, but instead by the individual commander.

John Saldivar – Minister of National Security: “We are very concerned about it and our release states that we have again made a complaint via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It caught us a little bit I would say by surprise because things have been relatively calmed down there since the ICJ Vote but we will continue to resist any attempts by the Guatemalan Army to take control or to deter us from doing what we need to do in the area. We have lodged a strong complaint and hope that that deters the Guatemalans from any  further such action. I believe in this case the decision was made to turn back which may have been the better decision at the time to avoid any conflict but no we are not giving in to these sorts of behaviors from the Guatemalan army. I continue to think that it is based on the individual who is up there. It is not a collective decision by the Guatemalan Army itself, I continue to believe that until proven otherwise. Hopefully, we can get the matter solved once our general speaks with their general. I don’t think we have always backed down, that has not always been the case . I can certainly tell you that once it is military to military and there are no civilians involved then we do not back down, we carry out our mandate. The decision is made on a case by case basis, when civilians are involved we have got to think about the safety of those individuals. We don’t necessarily want to get into a military conflict whilst we have civilians on board so it is a case by case decision but I can say categorically that the army when it is on its own, our BDF when it is on its own conducting our patrols, we have never allowed the Guatemalans to deter us.”

Saldivar also mentioned that the OAS will also be receiving a copy of the letter that GOB sent to Guatemala./////////////