About two weeks ago, we told you about a Guatemalan vessel that ran aground near Glovers Reef. Investigations revealed that there were two military vessels travelling from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, en route to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, on a training exercise. They were in Belize’s territorial waters, which extends outward 12 miles from Glover’s Reef but authorities have confirmed that the vessel experienced mechanical problems causing them to drift at the location where they ran aground. And while the vessel has been removed, the Government, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has assessed the damages caused and yesterday, the PM weighed in on the issue citing that they are preparing to send the damage bill to their Guatemalan counterparts….


deanPrime Minister Dean Barrow


“The people who were doing that assessment…I gave authorization for them to tell you. I think the damage is assessed at forty-six thousand dollars and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is therefore sending a note, but they want to send proper advice, legal advice as well, in terms of how you frame this because it is sovereign state to sovereign state. But the claim will go out now that the quantum of the damage done has been formalized.”


Reporter


“I know you have already pronounced yourself on it, but I would not be doing my job if I don’t ask you why it was that you asked the Coastguard on Sarstoon Island to back off and then if there is any update.”


Prime Minister Dean Barrow


“Ma’am, I’ve said to you. You’ve heard from the Minister of Foreign Affairs; you’ve heard from the C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Security and ultimately you heard from Commander Bennett who was there and who told you what happened. I refuse to have anybody try to get me to say something that might contradict what Commander Bennett said. I endorse what Commander Bennett said, as I must, because he was there. He told you what happened. I cannot add to that.”


Reporter


“But you had input; there was involvement on your part.”


Prime Minister Dean Barrow


“I cannot add to that…if there was involvement on my part diplomatically, in terms of what happened on the ground. I cannot add to what Commander Bennett said. End of story.”


It is of note that naval vessels from other countries are allowed to pass through Belize’s territorial waters under something called Innocent Passage, which “allows military vessels to traverse outside of the baseline of the country, as long as that transit is continuous and expeditious.”

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