So, to the status of Belize's use of the Sarstoon River. As we told you, immediately after the Istanbul talks, the Prime Minister's Office announced that there was an informal agreement between the Belizean and Guatemalan delegations that Belizeans would enjoy "untrammeled access" to the Sarstoon. That news came after a joint statement was issued by both Foreign Ministries which only mentioned the Sarstoon in passing.

A few days later Channel 5 and Krem tested this informal agreement, and they found that the Guatemalans behaved pretty much the same way they did before the talks, by blockading the Belizeans from free movement through the river.

It appeared that the Guatemalans supposedly agreed to one thing in the meetings, and did exactly the opposite of that. So, for the first time since he returned, we asked Elrington for an explanation of what happened with that media blockade. He said that that the Guatemalans' position is that the message had unfortunately not arrived to the Guatemalan military based in Sarstoon, and that's why the press was stopped:

Jules Vasquez
"Well then what as you understand as of right now today is the prevailing rule on the river?"

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"My understanding as of today is that we continue to use it without let or hindrance and in the meantime we are working on a formal mechanism so that in the event of any untoward incident taking place we have way to resolve it harmoniously."

Jules Vasquez
"Has there been any explanation from the Guatemalan forces, why Belizeans meet their colleagues here or stopped when they went on the river?"

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"We haven't heard from the forces but what we got from the ministry of foreign affairs was that the foreign minister had not had enough time to be able to brief the military as to what in fact we had agreed in Istanbul. He was travelling and so you know you have the Chain of Command, people are not going to do things unless they get instructions. That is the explanation we got."

Jules Vasquez
"Lag in communication."

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"Yes."

So, what about the PUP's trip? As we showed you that one happened quite peacefully, and the PUP leadership was able to conduct their familiarization tour free from harassment. When we sought clarification on that stark contrast with previous river expeditions, Elrington told the media that the PUP's visit should now be standard procedure for all Belizeans:

Reporter
"Sir is it the case that the Guatemalan sent a later to your ministry on Friday after the trip that the PUP made saying that they basically allowed that trip because Belize had informed them of it and that it was an educational visit?"

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"I not only was told that, I was told that by word of mouth by the Foreign Minister of Guatemala and I was shown the two boats going around because the Guatemalans had photographed them. They did not see the drone but the drone was on top photographing every move they made. The Guatemalans knew they were going, but I think they are moving to the point where they want to normalize the situation, that's my view. I don't think they're happy with the status quo, they want to normalize the relationship. That is the instruction we got from the OAS, that is the undertaking that we gave to the OAS that we will seek to normalize and they are trying to do it in the best way they can, that's my sense. They were happy to tell me that the PUP went there and there were no incidents."

Jules Vasquez
"But then that almost makes a suggestion that there were no incidents, it's an exception, 'we allowed the PUP to go'."

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"I never missed Jules, you could tell me that you allowed me to do it but if I'm exercising my right it doesn't matter what you say. The important thing is that I am able to go and come without let or hindrance. If you want to say that I am allowing, and you don't interfere with me and I go and come as I like, its fine. Makes you feel good that you believe you are allowing me, makes me feel good that I can come and go as I like."

Jules Vasquez
"However if somebody else goes there will not be let and there will be hindrance."

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"No, that's what I'm saying, they're normalizing the situation and my understanding is that things are going to get back to normal."

As we reported, the PUP told us that the reason that the trip happened without any problems was because notice had been sent to the Guatemalan side. But Elrington told us Belize did not send any formal diplomatic communication to Guatemala, and surmised that that they must have found out through other means.

Channel 7