caracol_2Tonight there are disturbing reports coming out of the west. Around ten this morning information surfaced that as many as three dozen Guatemalans from a small village along the Belize/Guatemala border came into Belizean territory armed with machetes and threatened workers and their escorts from the Belize Defense Force. The workers are building on an outpost at the Valentin Site near Caracol. It is further reported that the group threatened to burn the building which is for Friends of Conservation and Development. Our Colleagues at KREM News assisted us with interviews from the group’s Executive Director Rafael Manzanero and the Prime Minister. Here is what Manzanero had to say about the incident.


Rafael Manzanero- Executive Director Friends of Conservation and Development

“Some forty Guatemalans crossed from the village of La Recoya which is in the Guatemalan side of the border and they came in the area where they contribution post of Valentine is being constructed at the moment for the report that we got they came to threatened that they are not happy with the construction of that building there and that they are able to destroy that or that they would want to burn it so they practically were very adamant that they don’t feel happy with this conservation post that is being built in the Valentine Area.”


Reporter


“What was the size of the team that is deployed there to do this construction?”


Rafael Manzanero- Executive Director Friends of Conservation and Development


“Well, they were basically the workers of the company that is doing the work on the ground; these are carpenters and there were also some BDF that were assigned accompanying them.”


Reporter

 

“How many BDF were assigned?”


Rafael Manzanero- Executive Director Friends of Conservation and Development


“I know that there four that were sent in although I also recognize that there were a whole set of men that are very close by to that particular location so that is where we know in terms of the number of personnel around that particular zone.”

Reporter

“Did the team was forced to retrieve or have they remained there as construction continued or as it has been interrupted?”


Rafael Manzanero- Executive Director Friends of Conservation and Development


“I would hope that it would have been interrupted only for that particular time, I think we are still trying to gather more about the kind of situation on the ground, I know that the Guatemalans have left already from the location so pretty much I think the idea would be for us on the ground’ contractors and BDF to ensure that VCP is been finalized, construction is just starting so we are expecting that the worker remain there for the next 20 to21 days.”


According to reports, Prime Minister Dean Barrow received word of the incident while he was at a meeting with the churches at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City. When that meeting concluded he commented on the matter.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow


"I spoke to the CEO in the ministry of national security. He and the commander of the BDF has just done a fly over of the camp in a link helicopter. They didn't see the presence of the Guatemalan civilian invaders and so their senses that these people have now gone away, but it is quite clear that their earlier presence was in furtherance of a threat that the villagers in the nearest adjacent village had made that they will burn down the observation post or the conservation post. Reinforcement from the incisive gallop exercise are being dispatch to the area and our general has spoken to his Guatemalan counterparts telling them that they need to get a handle on the Guatemalan villagers, so that we can avoid an incident that will result in the spilling of blood. Hopefully it's under control now, but it is still fluid. They know what they are doing when they come into Belize and they know exactly where they are when they come into Belize. So really it is outrageous that not only do they come across and do the horrible damage that they do to our resources, but that when now we seek to construct an outpost to help us to better patrol and protect our national territory, that they should be so facey as to think that they can prevent us from so doing. Well that's not going to happen. The BDF will do what it has to do, but really, I think it is high time that the Guatemalan authorities step up and discharge their responsibility to get a handle on their people to place some controls on these vilalgers.”


The media also stated to the Prime Minister that there seemed to be little urgency given to the issue at hand and the PM responded.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow


“If you don’t feel a sense of urgency I can’t account for that. I have told you what the position is. The outpost is being fortified. Reinforcements are being sent to the area. The fact that these villagers came across and made threats is very worrying. We’re trying to put ourselves in a position where if they try to implement those threats they will be dealt with. Any attempt at force on their part will be met by a response that will show them equal or in fact greater force.”


We understand that extra reinforcement was sent to the area this afternoon.

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