Ambassador of Belize to Guatemala explains Adjacency Zone

The illegal entry by Guatemalans into Belizean territory has been a longstanding problem along the Chiquibul. The vast expanse has been a challenge to fully monitor given the limited resources of the Belize Defence Force. Recently, there have been frequent and dangerous confrontations between the B.D.F. and poachers on this side of the border. The terms “adjacency zone” and “confidence building measures” are commonly heard in discussions on the Belize/Guatemala dispute. This morning the Ambassador of Belize to Guatemala, Fred Martinez, explained the significance of the adjacency zone and confidence building measures, which are important initiatives in the keeping the peace between the neighboring countries.

Fred Martinez, Ambassador of Belize to Guatemala

Fred Martinez

“We must not confuse the adjacency zone, which was something that was specifically put into place in the year 2001; one kilometer within Belize and one kilometer within Guatemala. It’s on both sides. Many people think it’s only in Belize, no it is on both sides. The reason it was done was to try to account for all the illegal settlers that had come in from Guatemala into Belize and had set up themselves along our border line. We managed to get all of those people out in 2001 with the beginning of the confidence building measures and the International Organization on Migration, the OAS and everybody literally bought out these people, gave them money and moved them into the Guatemalan side. All of this occurred in 2001 so I think we need to refresh our history. These confidence building measures then set out the rules of how to handle people: one, that you have found living in the one kilometer strip prior to the year 2000, how do you deal with these people after the year 2000. There are protocols that were set; any incident that happens beyond one kilometer from the border, we don’t have to ask the OAS to verify. Sometimes it’s doubtful as to where it occurred and we would say okay, go in and find out. But this is well within Belize, you have nothing to do in here because the OAs only looks along that one kilometer line on either side. How do you expel people out of Belize? That is there. What do you do when you find a new structure built by some illegal entrant into Belize? Well, the protocol says you find it, you destroy it. You don’t have to ask for a verification. Now if it is found within the one kilometer you ask the OAs can you come in and verify that this is really six hundred meters within Belize. And they will—yes it is? This man was not here, this man has to come out.”

Channel 5