As we told you earlier, the Belizeanss who were detained by Guatemalans have returned home safely. The discourse has been heated as Belizeans have expressed outrage at the detention. Also keeping an eye on events in the South was the Government of Belize.
Ambassadors in both countries and the main executives in the Ministries of National Security and Foreign Affairs, along with the Prime Minister’s office, were in communication and later on the ground in Punta Gorda, managing this swiftly blown-up crisis.
We got a first-hand perspective from CEO in the Ministry of National Security, Retired Colonel George Lovell, who while not going into details, said that he personally is concerned enough by what he was told by the members of the party that the Government is going into action to get to the bottom of Saturday’s events.
“I have a similar understanding, and that is the reason why I am concerned. That’s the reason why we will have to look at the whole confidence-building measures. We will have to look at what next we, as a government, will do as we go forward.
Again I will not be able to discuss what it is that we intend to do and how we intend to do so. All I can say to suffice our public is that there are confidence-building measures and processes that we need to follow. We intend to follow those so that we can get the best possible outcome of this particular event.”
Ministry personnel sat with members of the group for a ‘debriefing’ session and the information gleaned from that session will be used to help in thoroughly investigating what took place through a joint verification exercise, and what steps need to be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But as CEO in the Ministry, Lovell says it does not condone what the Volunteers did, and maintains that they will not have official help when going to the border.
“I am the CEO in the Ministry of National Security. I, as the CEO, did not get any letter making any request for any escort in the area, and I will tell you that there is no need for me to escort the Territorial Volunteers or any other entity into that area, because I have the BDF who have a responsibility for the type of activities that they want to do.”
Ambassador of Belize to Guatemala, and former CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexis Rosado says he is equally concerned. Once the task of getting the Belizeans out of Guatemalan hands was complete, the next step would be to find out how they got there and whether the Guatemalan military deliberately crossed boundary lines to pursue a reported violation that took place hours earlier. But there is a mechanism established, he said, to pursue that report.
“We are very disappointed by what happened. We are still trying to clear up all the story, the full picture, but what it tells me is that we need to implement those agreements and do more to keep that level of contact communication cooperation.
I think the fact that we manage to get our Belizeans back home so quickly, in fact they could have come home last night, but because of the choppy waters and so, they decided to overnight. But the fact that we manage to get them back as quickly as possible, I think is a good indication of the communication and the links that exists between the militaries and also between the foreign ministries. That of course, without prejudice to establishing all the facts surrounding the whole situation.
From my point of view, I think the most important thing is that our Belizeans are back home. They are safe and they can be with their families and friends and be at home safely and secure. I think that’s the most important part. The rest we will have to deal with in due course.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow, currently attending the summit of CARICOM heads of government in the Bahamas, will be among the first to be briefed on the matter.