The Guatemalan Armed Forces did it again on Saturday - they came into Belize's territorial waters. The event was the Belize Territorial Volunteers Eco Challenge where the volunteers went in canoes and Kayaks around the Sarstoon Island. They also sang the anthem on the island - making it both emphatic and symbolic that the island is in Belizean territory. Will Maheia told us that seems to have charged up the Guatemalan Navy who then swooped in to come alongside the canoes. They also stopped a TIDE vessel and escorted it to the BDF Forward Operating Base on the Belize side - but that's because there were two coast guard officers with their weapons in that vessel.
The Prensa Libre newspaper - with little ragged for the truth - framed that one in a headline, as, quote, "Belizeans try to invade islet in Sarstún river." It says the Guatemalan Navy, quote, "carried out an operation in defense of national sovereignty."
The article ass that Will Maheia, quote, "led a group of at least 30 people who tried to install a flag of their country and sang their national anthem, but did not achieve their purpose."
As far as this footage shows, they did achieve their purpose.
As for the Coast Guard in the TIDE vessel, the Prensa Liber says, quote, "two alleged members of the Belizean coastguard, wearing ski masks and carrying M-16 type weapons, which must be authorized, so that a captain of the Guatemalan Infantry Brigade , after identifying them, invited them to leave national waters."
Tonight, there are howls of protest coming from civil society and the PUP rejecting the Guatemalans behaviour. One of the Northern Volunteers said that the Guatemalan presence was nerve wracking:…
The Belize Network of NGO's sent out a statement today saying, quote, "This act of belligerence by the GAF is unacceptable, and endangers the safety of Belizean citizens who have all the right to move freely within Belizean waters….The BNN is extremely concerned about this clear violation of our territorial integrity and sovereignty by the GAF. We ask the Government of Belize to immediately send a strong protest note to the Government of Guatemala, and to inform the world community and international organizations about these continued acts of aggression by the Guatemalan Armed Forces."
=The PUP issued its own statement saying, quote, "The People's United Party expresses its strongest condemnation of the actions of the Guatemalan Armed Forces and the inaction of the Government of Belize following the blatant harassment of Belizeans within our territorial waters this weekend...]The PUP calls on Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington to ACT NOW to protect our territorial integrity. If they will not act, we call on them to tell the Belizean people how we lost the Sarstoon which we sing about in our National Anthem. As we prepare to celebrate our Independence, the people deserve to know the truth." The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says no statement will be issued.