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PUP Wants Action from the Government Regarding Guatemala’s Consistent Disregard for Bilateral Talks and Agreements

The recent talks in Istanbul, Turkey had given hope to not only the leaders of Belize but to some pockets of society when it was announced that a formal agreement would be developed as it relates to the Sarstoon.  That hope, however, was short lived and has somewhat diminished when some fellow media colleagues ventured onto the Sarstoon last Friday and were turned back by the Guatemalan Armed Forces.  The Prime Minister had responded to the incident and expressed disappointment at the incident whilst saying that upon addressing the matter he was told that the Foreign Minister had not returned from his trip to Istanbul and perhaps the directive had not been handed down.  Prime Minister Barrow, however, told the media that the incident is unjustified and that both he and Senator Eamon Courtenay took away the very same understanding from the recent meetings.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not given an update since Friday but the People’s United Party has issued a release demanding that the Government of Belize address the incident as a matter of urgency whilst condemning Guatemala’s insistence at the illegal annexation.  The release states, quote, “The People’s United Party strongly condemns the continuing illegal annexation of the Sarstoon River by Guatemala, and demands that the Government of Belize act to re-establish full sovereignty and control over the Belizean internal waters of the Sarstoon River and of Sarstoon Island.   The prevention by Guatemalan naval forces of members of the Belizean media from free passage to and through the Sarstoon River on Friday, 27 May 2016; and the brazen presence of Guatemalan forces in Belizean internal waters is illegal and a blatant violation of Belizean dignity. This latest incident is evidence of Guatemalan bad faith which erodes the very limited progress achieved at the bilateral meeting between Belize and Guatemala held in Istanbul, Turkey on 23 May 2016.   Belize needs to adopt a more aggressive and urgent approach to the Sarstoon problem in order to guarantee full Belizean sovereignty and territorial integrity.”  The Opposition Party has made a four point demand to the Government of Belize including the adaptation of a comprehensive plan to restore full Belizean sovereignty and control over the Belizean internal waters of the Sarstoon River and of Sarstoon Island.  The PUP is also demanding that Ambassador Alexis Rosado be recalled for consultations and are insisting on a meeting between Belize and Guatemala under the auspices of the OAS, that will result in a signed protocol guaranteeing free navigation  in the Sarstoon  River in accordance with the 1859 Treaty and international law and also to appoint a National Team  to competently  manage Belize/Guatemala relations.