Repair Delays at Forward Operating Base in Sarstoon Draw Concerns from Belize Territorial Volunteers
The High Court building is not the only infrastructure currently under repairs. The Forward Operating Base at the Sarstoon has been under repairs for some time now. As a matter of fact, the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) believes that the repairs have gone on for too long now. The group issued a release today calling on the government to restore a 24-hour military presence at the base. In its release, the BTV noted that the base’s infrastructural integrity was compromised from July 2022 due to erosion, and was subsequently deemed unfit to occupy. In December 2022, Minister of Defense, Florencio Marin Jr., stated that the renovations would have been completed within eight weeks to allow for the return of military personnel. That was some six months ago, and tonight the BTV Leader, Wil Maheia says the base is yet to be repaired and claims that military presence in the vital waterway has reduced significantly. Maheia explained that the BTV is now picking up the mantle and is preparing to commence voluntary patrols.
Wil Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteers: “By abandoning the FOB then we’re going back to the norm where there is illegal fishing and things like that taking place. Also, as you may have heard that recently the Guatemalan armed forces continue to be on the river on our side and they are claiming the entire river. It’s very important that we have a presence on the river. Recently, we have confirmed reports that the Guatemalan armed forces even tried to stop the military our BDF from being on the river and we have to put a stop to that. We as Belizeans, we are concerned, we don’t want to give up any part of our country and not the Sarstoon River nor the Sarstoon Island. So we believe by having a presence at the forward operating base that we will establish ourselves as Belizeans and that the Sarstoon Island and part of the Sarstoon River do belong to us.”
The Forward operating Base was first constructed in 2016/2017. It is located on the northern bank of the Sarstoon River in southern Belize.