As for Guatemala’s presence inside Belize’s territorial waters during the inauguration of the forward operating base, Commandant of the Belize Defense Force, Brigadier General David Jones, described it as alertness on their behalf:


Screen_Shot_2016-04-20_at_8.19.02_PMBrigadier General David Jones – Belize Defense Force Commandant


“Well, it shows that they are on alert and they are going to continuously be alert and apart from the BDF and the Coast Guard our civilian forces also has to be aware that the Guatemalans are alert, this is an international border it shared between us and them so they are rightfully concern if any one comes in to the river that they may be going in to Guatemalan waters so I am not surprised that they are here I expected them here because that is what they should if there some activity occurring in their side and we would see a lot of vessels coming in to the river we equally be alert as well too to take a look and to be concern on what is happening in the river.”


Reporter


“These are not unknown and unmarked civilian vessels circling in the river, these are military vessels and I am absolutely sure that the Guatemalans new that would be the opening of the Forward Operating Base here today?”


Brigadier General David Jones – Belize Defense Force Commandant


“Yeah, despite that they should still be alert and as you know politically they claim the entire river so as far as they are concerned we don’t belong here unless they have approved it we are of a different view and that is going to be a continuous contention until there is some approval of some Protocol in this river, in this area, so there is still room for tension because there isn’t a political united front in what is happening in the Sarstoon, it is not like the Confidence Building Measures that we have along the western border, there is not such agreement or no such Protocol established for the Sarstoon, the proposals that we’ve drafted and given to them unfortunately they have rejected it so we still have to go back to the drawing board and see how we can operate with them because this is an international border so whatever goes in and out is of the interest of both militaries.”


General Jones added that he was disappointed that the proposed Sarstoon peace protocol was rejected by Guatemala.


Brigadier General David Jones – Belize Defense Force Commandant


“I wouldn’t way I was surprised, I would say I was disappointed that it was rejected because I sat down with the General and their Ambassador and we sat down at the table, we went through every paragraph on that Protocol one by one there was no major disagreement with any of those Protocols, they did not show that it is going to be any rejection of the Protocol but of course they did indicate to us that they need to go back to their Principal to inform them of the Protocol and they will review it and base on their recommendation then they would get back to us hopefully within a week or just after a week so when I heard the news actually on the television last night, the night before that it was rejected, I was really disappointed because the Belizean team sat down together, we drafted those Protocols, we believed they were designed with mutual respect and for cooperation so that civilians, both Belizeans and Guatemalans could traverse the Sarstoon area and the river without interruption from the military or any other civilians so when it was rejected I was rightfully disappointed but I am not going to give up I am going to continue working with them because we have to work with them, it is an international border so it’s on the interest of both countries to work together here, we believe it was fair, I believe and I know it was fair unfortunately it is up to the politicians in Guatemala to agree to something working in this area, they have absolutely a different view from what we were thinking, we were thinking it was fair, we believe in the spirit of mutual respect that we should cooperate and work closely with each other to reduce tension because none of us would benefit from any conflict or any tension in the area, we don’t want to go in the direction where eventually there is going to be blood shed because neither country would benefit from it.”


As for the Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, he is hopeful that the diplomats will find a solution to this issue.

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