Belize protests Guatemalan aggression on the Sarstoon River

By on July 25, 2019

Belize Flag.

Punta Gorda, TOLEDO. Thursday, July 25, 2019. Guatemala’s aggression on the Sarstoon River in the Toledo District has been out of the headlines for months now.

But on Tuesday (July 23) an incident involving a civilian boat which was being escorted by the Belize National Coast Guard took place which has prompted “a strong protest to the Government of Guatemala” by Belize.

An official release from Belmopan explains that the excursion up the Sarstoon River included representatives of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) and Belize Territorial Volunteers.

The civilians, according to the official release “was to conduct an investigation of information receives that illegal activity was taking place in the area of Black Creek.”

That investigation never took place, however, because the Guatemalan Armed Forces prevented the excursion from being completed.

The official account of the incident notes that “the group was being escorted by the Belize Coast Guard in a BDF metal shark type patrol vessel when they were approached by two GAF metal shark vessels, which intercepted the civilians and asked them to turn around.

The BDF patrol commander informed the GAF that they would not turn around and that the civilians were
being escorted by the BDF.”

But about four kilometers away from the intended destination for the excursion, the official release says that the BDF vessel developed mechanical problems and had to return to base.

That was when the “Guatemalan patrol vessels refused to let the civilian vessels proceed un-escorted and insisted that they were to return which they did.”

The protest note from Belmopan to Guatemala City expressed disappointment at the attempt by the Guatemalan Armed Forces to impede the Belizeans access to the Sarstoon.

The Belize Ministry of National Security says it views Tuesday incident as “very disappointing and demonstrates bad faith at a time when both countries have made significant progress in moving towards a permanent solution to the long-standing unfounded territorial claim.”

Belize and Guatemala have submitted the centuries old claim by Guatemala to Belize’s territory to the International Court of Justice for final resolution.

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