As you heard earlier in our newscast Prime Minister Dean Barrow stated that both countries will be working on a protocol for the Sarstoon River. Meanwhile the Belize Territorial Volunteers have indicated that they will take an expedition to the Sarstoon this Saturday. Once again the Government is asking the BTV not to embark on the initiative. Prime Minister Barrow said the climate is not right for such an undertaking. He added that personnel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the security forces will meet with representatives of the BTV to dissuade them.
“President Morales in committing to working with us, to develop a protocol for the Sarstoon agreed that such a protocol should govern as well civilian traffic on the river but he and his foreign minister were exercised and as you know they’ve put their position in writing by way of the various diplomatic notes, they continue to be exercised by what they see as the provocation caused by the territorial volunteers. I am on record saying that I perfectly understand that the volunteers act out of a sense of patriotism and who can quarrel with that but I am telling you those actions however well intentioned are utterly in my view and terribly misguided. Heretofore that’s just been a matter for debate and for a difference of opinion. In the current circumstances where we just went through an absolutely harrowing weekend, the entire country, all of us sitting at this table, where we have come through unscathed and where our diplomacy and the face to face meetings with Guatemala have produced this resolve to de escalate tensions and to find a way rooted in peace and mutual respect forward in those circumstances for these people to maintain that they will still go to the Sarstoon on Saturday would in my view be utterly unacceptable.”
Prime Minister Barrow said the Belize Territorial Volunteers would not only be putting themselves at risk should they proceed with their plans this weekend.
“You know how we now have a forward operating base at the mouth of the river if they go and the Guatemalans as the Guatemalans will seek to intercept them our people who are there will have to react. Hopefully in a way that would not cause the situation to get out of control but that could potentially provoke just that occurrence. The territorial volunteers would the not just have put their own lives at risk but the lives of the Belizean Security personnel. I am saying that there is a commitment on the part of the Guatemalans bolstered by the expressions of interest, hope and optimism from the international community to work something out with that. I am appealing to the territorial volunteers, give peace a chance, allow us to work this thing out, come up with a protocol.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Commander David Jones who said there is the need to allow for the protocols to be put in place.
While there was no time table placed on working out the protocol, Prime Minister said they hope to conclude the discussions in the shortest possible time.