PUP Senator Lisa Shoman has written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and His Excellency the Ambassador of Guatemala to Belize Manuel Roldan Barillas requesting for necessary measures to be taken to ensure the safety of all those going on the trip to the Sarstoon Island over the weekend. In both letters Shoman clearly states that she is accompanying the Belize Territorial Volunteers quote, “in the capacity as a Senator and member of the National Assembly of Belize, as well as the Representative of the Leader of the Opposition on the Ministry team dealing with the unfounded Guatemalan claim to Belize, and as a Belizean,” unquote. Senator Shoman spoke with the media on her decision today.


Screen_Shot_2015-08-13_at_8.09.13_PMSenator Lisa Shoman


“The reason that I did so was because I became very concerned yesterday after listening to the declarations that were being made by the minister of national security it is clear to me that Sarstoon Island is a part of Belize and even if it is an area that Guatemala is claiming the point could also be made that Guatemala is claiming half of Belize and all of the Cays, that is absolutely no reason for people not to go to Sarstoon Island and I became very concerned that enough care and attention was not being taken and beside it that it was my responsibility since I have been a part of this process to take seriously the concerns that BTV particularly after the incident of yesterday and after some reflection, consultation with the Leader of the Opposition who I represent I decided that I would accompany the BTV and reach out to Mr. Wil Mejia and let him know that I am interested and receive his kind invitation to accompany them.”


For Shoman it was important to formally notify the government of Belize of her intentions due to a number of reasons.

 

Senator Lisa Shoman


“I am a member of National Assembly among other things and I think that it has to be taken very seriously when any member of the National Assembly is deciding to do something like this because I am well aware that the government is of the opinion that this is some kind of a dangerous move or an unwise move so I am letting them know formally that I will be accompanying the BTV.”


Reporter


“Is it your hope that the office you hold will sway them to take certain actions as it is the oath of the…”


Senator Lisa Shoman


“I would hope that the government of Belize would take this expedition seriously enough to provide the safety and concern of all those who are attending it is not a matter that my office is any special office to need more protection than anyone else but it is certainly my intention to highlight that Belizeans deserve the care and concern of their government on any part of their country from internal or external threat it isn’t that I am saying that there is an external threat I am saying if you are so concern that the BTV and others accompanying the trip will be safe then the smartest thing to do is to send the Coast Guard and/or the BDF along to ensure that we remain in Belizean waters and that no harm comes to anyone.”


Reporter


“Mom if I understand the concerns of the person who I’ve spoken on this matter is that with military presence along with BTV if there is any sort of confrontation the fact that military personnel are there, there could be the escalation…”

 

Senator Lisa Shoman


“That is utter rubbish for years there have been link ups along the adjacency zone and those are always notified prior, this is not the adjacency zone and there is absolutely no reason why the ministry of national security cannot inform their counterparts in Guatemala and even offer to do the kind of link up that we do along the adjacency zone, am saying that there is absolutely no reason to suppose that because Belizean military forces are in Belizean waters that there will any incident I am sure that if the Guatemalan army forces cross over into Belizean territorial waters that we have enough sense and prudence to speak to them calmly and informed them what we are doing which is simply Belizeans are going to a part of Belize to make a statement.”


Senator Shoman adds that the visit to the island will not aggravate the purported excellent working relationship of the Guatemalan armed forces and the BDF. But will her presence bring about a different result for that trip which may or may not see tensions or confrontations with the Guatemalan armed forces if she were not there?


Senator Lisa Shoman


“There is no doubt in my mind that Belize has complete and total sovereignty over Sarstoon Island, this move by the Belizean Territorial Volunteers is not going to cement any sovereignty, we already have sovereignty, what I understand the BTV to be doing and I don’t speak for them nor I am their spokesman is that they want to make a strong statement as Belizeans that this Island is not under dispute and that this Island is formally a part of Belize it isn’t going to change anything legally or internationally but it is a group of Belizeans who are determined to make a statement and I support their civic right to make that statement and that is rarely why I am going along, to demonstrate that they have the right to make the statement and that Belizeans should be assured that their government is concerned about their safety.”

 

The Senator concluded saying that there is no bigger duty to her than there is to any member of the Belizean public but that her presence is a clear statement that she supports as does the PUP Party Leader Francis Fonseca, the rights of Belizeans to go to the Sarstoon Island as she is also going as his representative on the unfounded Guatemalan claim.

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