The Chairman of Barranco Village, Dr. Joseph Palacio addressed some of the unexpected implications the new Sarstoon Regulations have had on the community. Implications that might have gone unnoticed in other parts of the country,drastically affected the lives of the Garifuna community in Barranco Village and other Southern Coastal Communities who depend on the Sarstoon River for their sustenance. Dr. Palacio, today spoke on the affected livelihoods of the people.
DR JOSEPH PALACIO
“Look at it as larger issues, immediate issues and often the rest of Belize is not aware and so we need to inform the rest of Belize about some of these situations that were there even before the crisis with Guatemala and have worsened with the current crisis. It isn’t only a place for fishing, it’s also a place that we would cross and go from one side to the other, earlier historically for farming purposes and also at this point in time to be able to get to Livingston Guatemala which is a Garifuna community where we have relatives; as many relatives that we have here in Punta Gorda. You have to keep in mind that the Garifuna are coastal and that they are one big extended family so from time to time we have to visit to all of that possibility now because of the closure or the fact Guatemala for all intents and purposes has taken over the Sarstoon has meant that the access that we had had earlier to the waters for visits has been closed to us. It’s something that increases the picture of sort of a dismal situation in the village. The government hasn’t come to the village to talk to us as a community and explain what is happening and what the solution is in the short term, the long term, these are all questions that people ask and so it’s all a part of this whole larger issue that we spoke about earlier so the Sarstoon leads onto something else.”
Dr. Palacio stated that while he cannot comment of the Government’s response to the crisis with Guatemala, consultation with Barranco residents, and other coastal residents, is imperative.
DR JOSEPH PALACIO
“The government reacts to crisis situations and in this particular case this was the response of our national government and I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the right thing to do and if it was not the right thing to do then what the alternatives should have been that I leave to the government because they are the ones who have all the information. As small communities we should be consulted, there should be a delegation of the national leaders coming to say “look this is what has been happening, this is the impact, we also know that you are an impoverished community and just give us some time so that we can look at alternatives” that kind of dialogue has not existed and it’s rather unfortunate.”
Dr. Palacio stated that the village local government is open for consultation with Central Government.