In today’s press conference, Prime Minister Dean Barrow allowed the issues surrounding the Sarstoon River and the relations between Belize and Guatemala to be discussed. The first question regarding this subject focused on where we are in terms of access to the Sarstoon and our negotiations with Guatemala. Here was the Prime Minister’s response.
“There is no doubt that progress has been made, we cannot be satisfied until we get that so called cooperation mechanism in writing and I believe that the efforts to do just that are fully under way. Ambassadors Rosado from our side and Roy Dan from the Guatemalan side are to take the first stab at reducing what has been discussed to writing with a view to producing this protocol. In the meantime it was by expectation after that 21st meeting my expectation as a consequence of that meeting was that our people would be able to traffic the Sarstoon unimpeded. Now the Guatemalans have not formally said this and therefore I have to be careful not to attribute anything to them that is not an official position but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and as far as I know since that meeting people have gone, people have gone again, well not Mr.Vasquez his reporter without let or hinderance so I have to consider that progress. Predating the question of civilians going for a while now there has been no difficulty in terms of our soldiers going up what we consider to be our side of the Sarstoon to replenish the people and do the rotation at Cadenas. So to repeat we cannot rest content until we get a commitment in writing, until we get a formal protocol that is agreed and disclosed to all the world but in terms of what is taking place informally so far so good and I repeat that there has been progress.”
We will have more on today’s press brief which was held at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in our newscast tomorrow.