According to multiple news sources, 35-40 Belizeans mostly from Orange Walk, were detained earlier today by the Guatemalan Military. The Minister of National Security and Foreign Affairs has been in communication with its Guatemalan counterparts. They have been released, but travel conditions are not ideal and their return is set for tomorrow, Sunday.
The Belizeans were on their way back to Belize via the Sarstoon River when they were captured. They had been on their way to place a plaque at the Gracias a Dios monument on a BTV (Belize Territorial Volunteers) mission.
Guatemalan officials reportedly boarded the Belizean vessel and took them first to a Guatemalan outpost and later taken to Livingston, Guatemala.
The reason for the detention by the Guatemalan military is not known.
Late this evening it was confirmed by family members of the persons detained that they were released but a decision was taken to remain Livingston for the night and head back to Belize in Sunday morning due to concerns over the safety on the seas at night.
Late on Saturday night, the Belizeans were scrambling in Livingston to try and get hotel accommodations, many of them pooling their money to secure a place to sleep for the night.
Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of National Security George Lovell told KREM Radio tonight that it was his understanding that the Mayor of Livingston, Guatemala had offered to provide hotel accommodations for the Belizeans who had been detained by the Guatemalan authorities.
That assertion however was quickly dispelled when text messages from the detained Belizeans confirmed that in fact they were on their own, and finding their own way around trying to find accommodation for the night.
Click photos for more pictures!
They went to show they are patriotic. They were detained by an armed Guatemala Coastguard patrol. Men, women, children-BELIZEANS. They are now safe and will return to Belize, unharmed.
The group of approximately 40 Belizeans, including children, have been released by Guatemalan authorities BUT are still in Guatemala.
The group from the Northern Territorial Volunteers was towed to Livingston Guatemala after being intercepted by Guatemalan military earlier today after returning from a trip to Gracias A Dios. The Belizean Ambassador to Guatemala,Alexis Rosado, the OAS & the Belize Defense Force were notified and following their intervention the Belizean group was released. Unfortunately, the sea condition is not optimal for the group to travel back to Belize from Livingston in their own vessel. News 5 Live has confirmed that the Belize Coast Guard vessel from Hunting Caye will be meeting with Guatemalan authorities & NTV group at first light for the transfer back to Belize, specifically to the PG main dock.
A group of 40 Belizeans went to the Gracias Adios Monument up the Sarstoon River to place a Belize a plaque at the site . Upon returning, about halfway on the river a Guatemala boat patrol intercepted the group of Belizeans. They instructed them to turn the engine off the boat. They pulled the boat across the river. They then instructed them to get into their vessel. And according to Wil Maheia who has been in contact with the group, they were ordered to get into the Guatemala military boat which would take them to Livingston, Guatemala to be processed. Maheia also said the boat captain had made the trip many times before and would never venture into Guatemala’s side of the river. to Krem News, the CEO of the Ministry of National Security has been informed as well as the BDF and the Coastguard who are all attempting to reach their Guatemalan counterparts about the seizure of the Belizeans. The eldest person on the boat is a woman in there 80’s. The group will spend the night. The Belize Territorial Volunteers excursion members still have access to their phone and they might be released to travel back to Punta Gorda in the morning.
The photo is of the boat taken by Wil Maheia as they headed out earlier today to place the plaque at the monument.
(update: 7:30 p.m.- The Belizeans have been released at Livingston. They will remain there for the night due to unsafe travel and return to Belize in the morning. They don't know why they were detained but they do know the captain of the vessel was accused of committing an infraction.)