In an interview today with the media Brigadier General David Jones condemned the planned visit of the Northern Territorial Volunteers at the Sarstoon Island in southern Belize on August 16th. He says the trip can jeopardize the relationship between both countries something which we can’t afford at this time. Here is what he had to say.


Screen_Shot_2015-08-07_at_8.09.12_PMBrigadier David Jones- BDF Commander


 

“If they would ask my advice I would advise them not to go. The reason for this is because the border between Belize and Guatemala and the country of Belize has a territorial dispute with Guatemala. They have professed that almost half of the country belongs to them at times, at times they profess that the entire country belongs to them and that area in particular near the Sarstoon they are contesting that the island has never been in dispute. Our version of what we know is that the Sarstoon Island belongs to Belize, they have a different view. It doesn’t make sense to have a confrontation over the issue, it is better for the foreign affairs to foreign affairs try and work out that problem. The Belize Defense Force has a long standing relationship with the Guatemalan Armed Forces we have excellent relations with them. When we do operations along the border we discuss it with each other, we share intelligence, we share information and at times we even work jointly. Now having the territorial volunteers go out there will only aggravate a situation with the Guatemalan Armed Forces because their foreign affairs contest that the Sarstoon Island has never been in dispute; we are of a different view but it doesn’t make sense for them to go there to try and aggravate a situation to the point where they may want to see a military confrontation; it doesn’t make sense. It’s better for the people who have been elected to deal with such a situation and don’t have our own civilians put our security forces at risk trying to escalate a situation for our military to have military to military confrontation it doesn’t make sense. They will only put our security forces at risk and will jeopardize the relation that our foreign affairs have had with Guatemala and also jeopardize the relationship that military to military we share with each other. We are working well with each other without having anyone trying to aggravate the situation or trying to escalate a situation or a media event to try to see if it goes to the point where there may be a military escalation, it doesn’t make sense. So I would advise them not to go there but to sit and discuss it with us privately and perhaps they could listen to our advice.”


Today we asked one of the members of the group about their views on the lack of support to the group’s initiative. This is what Phillip De La Fuente, a member of the NTV told us.


Phillip De La Fuente


“We know is a bit risky, according to our officials Guatemala has a dispute with Belize, Belize does not have a dispute with Guatemala and that dispute is the Western Border, the dispute is not the Southern border  being as that is you know we will be going on this expedition on the 16th of August and we are going strictly to the Sarstoon Island and according to our governments Guatemala and Belize they are at peace and they had never had a better relationship so I don’t see any reason why we should be in any trouble if we go and visit our island, it is our island, I would love to hear any Belizean government supporting a group that is trying their best to show to the rest of the Belizean populace the beauty of their country, I would to see any government supporting any group and is patriotic and wants to go and visit whatever part of their country they are trying to visit.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“Could you briefly tell us what will be the purpose of this visit and how far you planning to reach?”


Phillip De La Fuente


“The purpose of this event is to go and visit Sarstoon Island we have a lot of Belizean who want to go that have never visited the island and we want to pass by Barranco Village, I personally have only seen pictures and it looks very beautiful and am looking forward to this visit.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“Basically, are you planning to be putting any monuments or any flags when you set foot?”


Screen_Shot_2015-08-07_at_8.09.21_PMPhillip De La Fuente


“We will be singing the National anthem and raising the Belizean flag on the Sarstoon Island and as our government said before you know we don’t have a problem on the Southern border and our countries are not at war, it will be a very short visit and we are inviting one and all, and all the authorities have been invited and already know that we are going there so if we have a Belize defense force we should be able to be protected in our country, if we have a Belize Coast Guard they should be able to protect our Coast so we are hoping for the best.”


De la Fuente says that they want to familiarize themselves with the island and will be singing the national anthem and raising a flag on the island once there. It will be a short visit he adds.

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