Earlier this week we reported on the upcoming trip to the Sarstoon being led by the Opposition, Peoples United Party. Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno spoke to the media today on the trip which is slated for Saturday, May 21.
“Two weeks ago at the National Party Council meeting that we had here in Belize City the National Party Council voted unanimously that we need to do several things and one of them that we need to do is go and visit the Sarstoon and that we were to find an appropriate time that could work for everybody so we have been in consultation with the leadership of the party, by that I mean members of the National Executive and parliamentarians and the best time that we could have for the majority of the group to go down would be this Saturday. The Prime Minister is aware that we are going to travel to the Sarstoon, I have said it publicly, we have said it in our releases and just last week Friday when we went to support the teachers in their march to stand up for Belize I also made it clear once again that we are going to go and visit the Sarstoon so I am sure that he is aware that we will go to the Sarstoon river to visit.”
As Briceno said last Friday, the decision to take this expedition is not political mischief but rather, it is an educational trip particularly for their members and leaders.
“Our trip is not a political trip, our trip is an educational trip, it is very important for us in the leadership to be able to go down on the spot in the river, for us to have a better appreciation about what is taking place there so we are going on this education trip where we can be educated first hand to visit the area and see what is going on and then once we are in the Toledo district to talk to different individuals to see how they see all of this playing out. We can be in Belize City and Orange Walk but it is the people in the Toledo district and the front line of where all of this is happening so we are going, we don’t expect any problems. The Prime Minister was very clear last week when he announced the lifting of the total restriction to visit the area and that once you go and report to the Forward Operating Base of the BDF that they will allow you to go. We are going in peace, we are not taking any liquor we are not taking any kind of weapons or anything and we will stop at the Forward Operating Base, we will report and then we go onto the Sarstoon so I do not expect any problems on the part of the government or the police or the Prime Minister or anybody.”
With bilateral talks coming up between Belize and Guatemala, the media asked whether this trip to the Sarstoon will affect discussions slated to take place in the European region.
“I think that’s their problem what they want to think. We don’t think for what they want to do on their part in their area of their country, they can do as they wish, this is our country and we are having problems at the border, we are saying right now that the Guatemalans have been strong arming the entire Sarstoon river it is important for us to go down there and get a first-hand view as to what is happening and just like how we are going down south later I think we will also plan a trip to go on the Western border so we can see first-hand what is happening so as far as we are concerned it is an educational trip, it’s not a political one and as Belizeans we have the right to go to any part of this country.”
The People’s United Party is not leading a large delegation to southern Belize, contrary to popular belief or expectations. Briceno says there are limitations in logistics and for now, they are planning accordingly.
“What we said is that we want to invite them in the work that we are doing but it has been difficult to get boats. As you know many of the boat owners have been threatened, they are concerned that they may lose their licenses and they throw all kinds of obstacles on their hands so it’s difficult to be able to get boats that can go down south. We have secured just enough to be able to take the national executive and some other leaders in the party so what we want to do is that once this is finished and if we can plan another trip then definitely we want to be able to bring more people so they can see first-hand what is happening in the Sarstoon.”
Love News will be on this expedition and will give you reports on the trip’s outcome.