In a recent meeting held in Punta Gorda with the local fisher folk, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred Elrington , made a comment that has been causing quite a stir in the general populace. The meeting was to address the ongoing encroachment of Guatemalans on Belize’s waters. During Minister Elrington’s presentation, he said that Belize’s territorial borders are not clearly defined and as a result, the immigration laws to deal with illegal encroachment on Belize’s waters cannot be enforced. Here is what he said.
“As sure as I stand up here this morning, that the problem with Honduran and Guatemalan fisher folk coming into Belize’s water will only get worst with time. The quicker we could deal with it, in terms of identifying our boarders, the quicker we will be able to solve that problem. Why? Because we have agreements with two countries. Port Honduras means agreement with the countries. When we agree on the border, we will have to work with Honduras, we will have to work with Guatemala and we will have to work with Mexico, because we still have a problem with Mexico on the north as well. Belize’s boarders are not properly identified as ought to. We are working on it. Right now the Mexicans are working with us and we going to start to work on that to l work on that to try and finish the northern border. Hopefully we are going to work, as time goes by, with the Guatemalans to identify. Once we have our boarders clearly marks and identified, then we will be able to patrol it properly and keep them out. At this point in time, we don’t know when we are in Belizean waters, we don’t know when we are in international waters. Unless you are certain of where you are, when you arrest people and take them to court for infringement in our waters, you will find that your cases will not be successfully prosecuted because you can’t show to the court where our waters begin and where the Honduran waters end or where the Guatemalan waters end. That is the first thing that we got to sort out. We got to make sure that we deal with the boundary issues. Once we have our boundaries clearly defined and demarcated then it will be easier to deal with these issues of trespassing.”
But according to several official online sources, Belize’s waters have been clearly defined since Belize passed the Belize Martime Areas Act in 1992.