Eight Belizean fishermen are being held by the Guatemalan Navy tonight. The Belizean Embassy in Guatemala has learned that they were arrested when they were found getting out of their vessel at the Punta Manabique Beach in Izabal, Guatemala. This is believed to have happened sometime in the last 24 hours.
Now as these maps show, that is the northernmost tip of Guatemalan territory jutting out into the Amatique Bay - which is in the Gulf of Honduras. It's diagonally across from Punta Gorda and juts out north of the Sarstoon boundary.
The Guatemalan Navy reports that seven of the eight had Belizean fishing licenses, but no boat registration nor "zarpe" which is a Guatemalan port authorization document. All eight are now in the hands of Guatemalan Immigration and they have been transported to Guatemala City for processing.
The Belize Embassy in Guatemala has been in contact with the eight to confirm their wellbeing. The Government of Belize says in a release that it "has engaged Guatemalan and OAS representatives in this matter."
Now, if the details as outlined in a late evening government press release are accurate, and these fishers were illegally in Guatemalan territory - it will be a cause, again, for national concern, since as we have show you very many times, Guatemalan fishers freely use and abuse the Belize side of the Sarstoon without penalty or persecution. We'll keep following this story very closely.
Belizeans Fishermen Arrested in Guatemala for Illegal Entry
There is another developing story. It is well-known that Guatemalan nationals illegally enter Belizean territory for illegal activities. Most recently when the Sarstoon law applied, their fishermen routinely traversed into Belize to fish while the local fisher folk were barred from entering the Sarstoon. Now, on Thursday night, a total of eight Belizeans were detained by the Guatemalan navy and today were taken over to Guatemala City to be processed for illegal entry by Immigration officials. The group of fishermen were detained on the beach of Punta Manbique. According to the brief details we have received, the Guatemalan navy claims that seven of them possessed fishing licences, but the eight fishermen did not have license or any sort of identification. Their vessel also did not have the required navigation license. They are Jeffery Gongora, Manuel Flores, Antonio Pop, Simeon Batun, Isidro Tamai, Jorge Tamai, Bartolo Jimenez, and Ernesto Megan, who did not have an identification document. As we said they are to be charged with illegal entry into Guatemala. Shortly after six this evening, government confirmed the detention of the Belizeans. According to a release, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Belize Embassy staff in Guatemala, since receipt of this information early this afternoon, confirmed the identities of those detained and have been in communication with the individuals to confirm they are in good health. Government officials will continue to engage with Guatemalan and O.A.S. representatives in this matter.”