As we reported last night, the official claim of compensation for damages on the reef is in the process of being finalized and sent to the Guatemalan authorities. Well, it seems that if not a claim of compensation, then at least a ticket for poor navigation might have to drafted and sent to Mexico. That's because this morning at around 8:00, a 55 foot Mexican Navy Patrol Boat - known as a "Polaris Intercepter" ran aground on mud flats and shoals 7 miles North West of San Pedro - which is near the Coast Guards Operating Base on the island. According to our sources, the Mexican Navy vessel was traveling from Chetumal heading towards Isla Mujeres when it veered off course and ran aground on shoals which are merely sandbanks or platforms elevated above the surface of the water. It was the Mexican Navy who called Belizean authorities to inform them of the incident and that's when the Coast Guard responded. Fortunately, the boat was removed this evening at 4:30 and according to the CEO in the Ministry OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS Lawrence Sylvester, no marine life or ecosystem was damaged and there was no oil spill or spill of any contaminants from the boat. It's not nearly as serious as the incident with the Guatemalan gunboat because the reef was not hit or damaged. In a press release sent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today it states that it is quite normal for Mexican Navy vessels to transit from their Chetumal Bay base …"with the knowledge and permission of the Government of Belize to access their southern outpost at Xcalac." Although the reef was not damaged, the Department of Environment, the Belize Port Authority, and the Fisheries Department will still conduct an assessment of the site and that will also be forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The release ends by saying "the Belize Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mexican Secretariat of External Relations are currently in the process of completing negotiations on a Memorandum of Understanding on Innocent Passage to formalize such Mexican Navy transit arrangements through our maritime spaces in accordance with Contemporary International Law and Practice".
Ambergris Cay bisects the Mexican coast line and as a courtesy the Belize government has allowed for many years the Mexican navy to pass around Ambergris to reach the coast at Xcalac. It's just a good neighborly thing to do. Running aground in the shallows of the back bay is a hazard but not of any large consequence. No big deal. The Guatemalan incident on the other hand was a rude trespass that damaged the reef with no apologies and attitude to boot. Not a good neighbor.