Tonight all indications are that Guatemala is sticking to their word when they said that they never agreed to an unofficial agreement for Belizeans to have untrammeled access to the Sarstoon, during talks that took place last month in Istanbul. The reason we say this is because earlier today leader of the Belize Territorial Volunteers, Will Maheia and a crew from Channel Five News decided to test the waters at the Sarstoon to verify if Belizeans in fact have access to the river. So….do we? No we don’t. As the group made their way up the Sarstoon they were intercepted by Guatemalan Armed Forces who out rightly declared that the group was on Guatemalan waters.
According to Will Maheia, the group made their way into the Sarstoon at about 6:30 this morning, with their main objective being to corroborate GOB’s ratification that Belizeans are free to navigate the Sarstoon. Although the group made it past the Sarstoon Island, soon after they were approached by a Guatemalan boat consisting of 9 members of the Guatemalan Armed Forces who seemed particularly aggressive and keen at stopping them from navigating through the river even though they were clearly on the Northern Channel.
Will Mejia – Leader of Belize Territorial Volunteer
“By the time we entered the river, we saw the Guatemalan military getting into their boat and we went pass the island and by the time we got pass the island their boa was there as well and they followed us up the river for about half a mile and we decided to turn back and when we turned back they pulled up on the Belize side because firstly they were on their side of the river and when we pull around they turned around on our side of the river, and they tried to stop us and they were nine of them inside their boat with their guns and we said no this is Belize you can’t stop us and they said no stop the boat and I was saying no we are not going to stop the boat so I instructed my captain not to stop this boat and we continue to proceed towards the mouth of the river and they insisted on stopping out boat what happened is that they tried to cut us off and I tell our captain to give it more gas and what happened is that they had a boat similar like ours almost same horse power but they had their boat overloaded with military people so that gave our boat to be a little bit more faster than theirs and that was the reason why we got out of the river without them trying to block us because they were trying to block us we were in our Belize side clearly but we were fortunately enough to prevent them from doing that and we told them look this is Belize’s territory and he keeps saying Respto al Protocolo and I keep saying like cual Protocolo no hay Protocolo and then he keep on saying ask your government and finally we kept going and we were side by side tha they were coming very close to us and I keep telling them that their it is dangerous for their boat to be so close to our boat because if you check the footage you could see that their boat was so close to our boat.”
According to Maheia, GOB must internationalize this most recent breach made by Guatemala to Belize’s sovereignty by stopping a Belizean vessel from navigating through Belizean territory.
Viewers may recall that on Tuesday’s newscast we showed you a note of protest sent by the Embassy of Guatemala in Belize to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that the only agreements reached at the meeting’s in Istanbul were, their commitment to peace and good will and that the existing Territorial, Insular and Maritime differendum should be resolved by the International Court of Justice, once approved by the required referenda.
Also agreed upon was the recognition of the urgent need for and committed to working on the design and development of a mechanism for cooperation in the Sarstoon River, and the need to avoid incidents between the two countries that affect the process of confidence building.
In this letter Guatemala denies ever agreeing to an informal agreement to allow Belizeans access to the Sarstoon.
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