" Botes ", is in top centre of the top part of this picture " San Francisco Botes ", 5 miles west of Yo Creek.
" La Union " is bottom left corner of lower picture, just above Blue Creek area.
Clearly, both those villages are used for regular crossings.
It seems to me, it would be better for the Belize authorities to provide a recognised Port of Entry, at those two places. They are not going to stop the crossings.
It's across the river, a bit east of Yo Creek, and is a much smaller village/municipality than La Union.
There appear to be roads (or dirt tracks) in Belize to the river at both Botes and La Union. Wikipedia even says that La Union has a bridge and border officials on the Mexico side. Not sure if that's true (Wikipedia not always accurate) about the bridge, but google earth shows a fair size road at the river on both sides at La Union.
Not only is La Union a larger community than Botes, there is what appears to be a fairly good road that takes you from the Chetumal/Bacalar area to, first, La Union and then on a few kms to Botes.
We had an interest in a property in edges of blue creek in mid 80's, and la union was where all the folks crossed (illegally) to shop. also i recall the spanish ladies told me there was a real AVON distributor that side. haha.
Last Friday we told you about the concerns that the Immigration and Customs Departments had about the border crossings at Botes and La Union. These are not official border crossings, but in hard times, they have become popular with shoppers looking for cheaper products across the river. Recently, they had been attracting large excursions - as many as busloads coming from as far as Dangriga and Punta Gorda, to cross the river in dories so that they can buy cheap stuff and hopefully dodge customs.
Well, no more says the Immigration Department. They put out a strong release today, quoting the law, which says, "No Person Shall Enter Belize Elsewhere than at an Approved Port or Place of Entry"
It goes on to add, quote,
"The public is hereby advised that the Immigration & Nationality Services Department shall enforce strict compliance with these laws and shall prosecute any person(s) acting in violation of the above laws, in respect to crossings at Botes, La Union and any other crossings which are not approved as such."
That's strong talk against what is a way of life in the north and today, via telephone we asked the director what it means. Here's how she put it:..
Diana Locke, Director of Immigration
"These areas are not official border crossings point. Customs has allowed, I think at the La Union area for the crossing for people who live in the border town areas and I expect that will continue. We are not interfering in that, but we are trying to have people desist from traveling to those areas who come all the way from the south of the country, because they are not proper immigration port set up on either side of those areas and they are declared as border crossing areas. I should also add that up in the Blue Creek area, that crossing is on private property."
Jules Vasquez, 7News
"So now, it's a long weekend, many nortenos will as they normally do, be going to Botes and they would be going to La Union as well. What would be your message to those people?"
Diana Locke, Director of Immigration
"We would certainly like to encourage them to travel to Mexico, but certainly using our official border crossing and they will be having checkpoints over the weekend to discourage people from going in those areas."
Locke says they will have up roadblocks to make sure buses and private vehicles do not approach those border crossings.