Prime Minister Dean Barrow called a press conference today at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza where he apprised the media of the recent meetings held on the Belize/Guatemala issue. There was no great revelation coming out of today’s conference but Prime Minister did say, it was called in an effort to keep the country posted on the ongoing meetings and sessions surrounding the Sarstoon.
“The government of Belize regards the results of the Washington Meeting as something of a breakthrough. Of course there is still a lot of work to be done in order to achieve a satisfactory outcome to the Sarstoon negotiations that have now been mandated between Belize and Guatemala and we cannot rest content until those negotiations have been finally concluded and there is a formal agreement in writing. But there is no doubt that progress has been made and that progress vindicates among other things the recent actions of our government in placing a temporary ban on civilians going to the Sarstoon. We had made clear last Friday and again on Monday that we acted so as to forestall any possibility to damage to property or injury to persons occurring as a result of civilian entry into the cauldron of the Sarstoon. But we also acted so as to give our diplomacy a chance to work especially in light of these Washington meetings which we had been seeking. The fact that the meetings took place successfully on Tuesday and Wednesday is vindication of our strategy. We repeat though that the situation will remain tricky until we reach final agreement. There was a positive spirit as I understand it that informed the Washington meetings and that also animated informal exchanges with the Guatemalans, this makes us optimistic. In the circumstances we are especially concerned over any development that could undo the diplomatic start that has been made and it is in this context that we view the planned visit of the People’s United Party to the Sarstoon. That visit, if it proceeds, would very likely undermine the position reached yesterday at the OAS and all our painstaking work could go for naught. To our mind it is therefore imperative that no group should go to the Sarstoon before we would have had a chance in the remaining three weeks that the law is in force to conclude our negotiation with Guatemala. The PUP is the constitutional opposition of this country, the so called government in waiting. It has a particular role and responsibility far above that of any ordinary civilian organization, we would thus hope that the People’s United Party would stay it’s hand in view of what has happened in Washington so as to give the negotiations which we again invite them to be a central part of an opportunity to be finalized. I accordingly make a formal appeal to them to postpone their Sarstoon trip, rejoin the government in the negotiating process with Guatemala and help to secure the diplomatic result that Belize needs to guarantee its rights.”