A Belizean flag has been planted on the now iconic Sarstoon Island. While that was not the main objective of today’s Belizean Territorial Volunteers trip down the Sarstoon river, the BTV saw an opportunity and took it. As we have been reporting for the past few weeks, tensions have arisen between the Belizean and Guatemalan militaries in the Sarstoon area, especially after the standoff between the Belizean Coast Guard and Guatemalan Military some weeks ago at Sarstoon Island when the Belizean security force was there to do reconnaissance of the island for the possible construction of a military forward operating base there. Those tensions have been further intensified with the BTV’s trip to Sarstoon and the subsequent encounter with the Guatemalan Navy boats blocking Belizeans from accessing Belizean territory. The BDG Brigadier General had stated that the BTV has actually complicated and further strained military relations, endangering Belizean soldiers especially as it relates to the changeover of the BDF at the Cadenas Military outpost in the South. But even with that declaration by the Brigadier General , the BTV said that they would go with the BDF on the next changeover at Cadenas. That happened today, Tuesday August 25th. The Belize Territorial Volunteers tailed the BDF to the Cadena Outpost to witness the changeover of the BDF which had been postponed from last week due to tensions. Against advise from the BDF and Government, a small contingent of the BTV went to the Sarstoon to witness the changeover and to see if there would be any problem with the Guatemalan Military. Founder of BTV and organizer of this event, Will Maheia, tells us what they saw and what they accomplished.
Will Maheia: Well we did not go along with the BDF. The intention was to trail the BDF as they go up the Sarstoon river. Unfortunately or fortunately the BDF left not on their scheduled time but long before they’re usually scheduled to leave. They left so we couldn’t really follow them. The whole purpose to see if the BDF had to check in with the Guatemalans or so. Nevertheless, apparently while the BDF entered the river, the Guatemalan military started to follow them so then it gave us an opportunity to plant our flag on Sarstoon Island without being uninterrupted by Guatemalan military and that’s what we did.
Maheia went on to further state that they saw the Guatemalans escorting the BDFs inside Belizean waters.
Wil Maheia: Well, don’t make interrupted but I can tell you that we have evidence or proof that the Guatemalan military escorted them into Belize’s waters when they were coming back out from Cadenas, from Sarstoon escorted them into Belize waters and then turned around. Well I think that it might be a regular thing, what I can’t understand is why our BDF would need any kind of Guatemalan escort. I mean I just think that that is ridiculous to have Guatemalan escort our military.
He then reiterated that he believes that the Commander of the BDF or the Prime Minister of Belize should explain to Belizeans why this is happening.
Wil Maheia: Again I would just hope that the Commander of the BDF or the Prime Minister would come and inform the Belizean public why is it that the BDF needs an escort by the Guatemalan military. I think we need an explanation for that.
Mejia says they are planning to take another trip to the Sarstoon, most likely on the weekend before the 21st of September, and he says, all who wish to go along are welcomed.
Will Maheia: I would say this is Belize, our country, every square inch of this 8867 square mile belongs to us and I believe that nobody should deny us to plant a flag, to show our patriotism for this country in any part of this country that we so choose. If we want to go o Ranguana if we want to go to Blue Hole, north or south, we as Belizeans have the right to do that, and that’s what we wanted to demonstrate to the people of Belize that we as Belizeans should have the right to put a flag wherever we want to in this beautiful country of ours.