Members of The Belize Territorial Volunteers and the Northern Territorial Volunteers had a brief encounter with Guatemalan armed soldiers today as they scouted the area at the Sarstoon Island before the planned trip this coming Sunday. The Belize Territorial Volunteers are at the lead in the August 16th expedition to the Sarstoon Island in Southern Belize. Members of the Northern Territorial Volunteers are assisting in the trip which, despite warnings and requests of desisting by government and BDF officials, the groups intend to make. Today, we spoke with member of the NTV Orlando De la Fuente, who told us that they had left PG early by boat to the Island this morning. Here is his account of what happened once there.


Screen_Shot_2015-08-12_at_8.15.35_PMOrlando de la Fuente – NTV Member


“Upon entering Sarstoon Island the Guatemalans have a marine base there and I personally think that we don’t have to check in with the Guatemala but it is customary that all Belizeans check in with the Guatemalan and the Belizean government has taken no step to stop that practice or to tell the Guatemalans to cease and decease and they insist that Belizeans both check with them at the Guatemalan base it is just a small pier.”


Shortly after arriving, the men had an encounter with Guatemalan armed forced. De La Fuente says that following this, they are now seeking escort from the BDF or the Belize Coast Guard for the trip.


Orlando de la Fuente – NTV Member


“The BDF commander had cautioned against us going to Sarstoon and I guess that place is the Guatemalans very much because they don’t want to stay either and after we had gone around the island looking for a suitable spot in which to disembark the group on Sunday they called us over to their side of the river on the boat we had a debate on whether we should go or not and finally the captain said we should go so we went to their side of the river and they called us over and they ask us again what we were doing on the river and we told them we were visiting the island and just on a familiarization trip knowing this part of Belize and they said for us to come closer and we went closer and then the officer asked me to throw the rope and I said no I am not going to throw the rope we had some questions for you and they kept calling us over and so I asked him what he wanted and he said that he need to question us about what our activities were and what were we doing there and I told him we can talk from here and I told you and we are around the island up the river a bit.”


De La Fuente says he hopes government heeds their request but up to today, the organization has not received any support whatsoever from the government. After today’s experience, we asked De La Fuente if he would still encourage members of the public to go on the trip.


Orlando de la Fuente – NTV Member


“Today we are writing the Coast Guard to request that they, for them to be present and for them to make sure that the expedition is safe especially from the area at Barranco Village to the island and back to check for the boat license and to check that everybody has the proper life vest but as of today they have not answered our request our letter for an escort.”


The group will be waiting for a response from Belizean authorities on their request for escort to the island on Sunday.

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