Screen_Shot_2015-09-01_at_8.15.33_PMThe Belize Territorial Volunteers were back on the water today as they headed off to the Sarstoon Island, led by Wil Maheia. Last week the group left after the Belize Defense Force who left an hour earlier than the usual time probably because they had gotten word that the BTV would be going on the trip.

This week, Maheia says they planned things differently and set out a lot earlier than they did on previous trips. The objective was to verify if the BDF were indeed patrolling the area on Tuesday’s as announced by the Prime Minister and Commander of the BDF. According to Maheia, today there was no sign of the BDF in the area, even after they waited for hours to catch a glimpse of them.

Wil Mehia – Belize Territorial Volunteers

“This week we decided we will leave even earlier to our boat because there was only one boat today and we were on our way and as dawn came we were at the mouth of the Sarstoon and we hang around there for quite a few hours we would be the BDF would show up and they never did and we knew that according to the Prime Minister they were, they say that they go every Tuesday and out of the last three Tuesdays we only witness one and we would like them to tell us you know what is going on when it comes to Sarstoon Island and the Sarstoon River because it seems that we just cannot go to Sarstoon Island but we can’t even go to the Sarstoon river and this is something that we need to really need to address as Belizeans.”

As on other occasions, the BTV saw Guatemalan soldiers stationed in the area and also witnessed the continued exploitation of Belize’s natural resources.

Wil Mehia – Belize Territorial Volunteers

“As we were about to enter the river, well we even get to the river but we saw the presence of the Guatemalans Military Boat and because we only had one boat we didn’t really push it, when we made our push towards like going into the river they pushed towards us as well so because we only had one boat we didn’t want a confrontation and so when we kind of slow down our boat they slowed down their boat and we never interacted but every time we attempt to go the attempt to comes as well but what was very interesting is that there were still many Guatemalan fishing vessels inside Belizean waters as if they entered with the protection of the Guatemalan military, so our question to the Belize government is if the Guatemalans care about the mouth of the Sarstoon river why our military do the same at the same time protect our peace because now it is getting exploited.”

Maheia reiterates that their objective is to assert Belize’s sovereignty and also show that the government has been lax in protecting Belize’s borders.

Wil Mehia – Belize Territorial Volunteers

“Our thing is to get the government of Belize to do its job; to patrol our border, to maintain our border integrity, to have Belizeans move freely to whatever part of this country we so choose to go and we can’t be acting like if we are giving up a piece of our country so we at BTV we want to make sure Belizeans aware that the fact that the government is falling down in not patrolling our borders that Guatemalans continue to incur in Belize territory and exploit our national resources so these are things that we need to pay attention, we are blessed with all this wealth and we are just allowing Guatemalan to just take it away from us, Belizeans are at home this week because they cannot afford to go to school so we really want to highlight the fact that our government has been so lack to protect our borders. We could it as long as we possibly can but of course it all comes with a cost and we are appealing to Belizeans to make some monetary donations so we could buy fuel which is our biggest operating cost and we encourage Belizean if you have ten dollars to buy a gallon of gas buy it for us an you can deposit it at the Belize Bank account Belize Territorial volunteers at anywhere in the country if it is ten dollars we will appreciated it.”

The contingent that went to the Sarstoon this morning was much smaller and included only four people on the boat. Maheia says they purposely planned the trip that way. Also taking part in the latest visit were representatives of COLA and Krem.

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