On Tuesday the leaders of Belize Territorial Volunteers Wil Maheia and Orlando De La Fuente stopped by our studios to speak about their planned trip to the Sarstoon Island this coming Sunday. It has been a topic of much conversation and as the date of for the trip nears, emotions are starting to build up. After the BTV representatives left our studios in Belmopan, they headed down South all the way to the Sarstoon Island on a reconnaissance expedition in preparation for their trip on Sunday. While mapping the perimeter of the island, the delegation of four, were flagged down by a fully armed Guatemalan military vessel while in Belizean waters. Wil recounts the exchange.
“I was telling my boat captain, ‘look, don’t stop’. He and Orlando De La Fuente, who was on board with us decided, ‘ look we better stop because they are really like…. you know. ” we stopped and they asked us what we were doing over there. We said that we were just checking out the island. Then he asked us if we had papers for our boat .Mr. De La Fuente told them, ‘ no, we are Belizeans and this is a Belizean boat. We don’t need to give you no papers.” Then he said, ‘look, through the rope for their boat here to us,’ and I said ,’No , you can’t do that.’ I told my captain to put the boat in reverse and let’s get out of here. So he jammed the boat in reverse and made a quick turn in forward motion because they had their two boats there. The military guy told another military guy to go get them. They tried get their boat going but they way it was parked, it was hard to get around and catch up with us. By that time, we would have been deep into Belizean waters already.”
Wil says that in all his years visiting the Sarstoon island, this is the first time he is seeing such a strong military presence in the near vicinity. The trip however remains undeterred by this encounter, according to Wil Maheia.
Emanuel Pech – Plus TV Reporter
“Four people were on that boat. Four people are much easier to control than a hundred people being on the Sarstoon Island. Does this bode ill for the trip on Sunday?’
“Absolutely not, we know where our waters are. We know where our boarders are. We are going to Sarstoon Island which is clearly inside Belize’s territory, there is no disputing that. All the maps of the world show it is inside Belize’s Territory. The 1859 Treaty clearly states that the Sarstoon Island is a part of Belize’s territory. All of it, not some or part of it. We know where it is at, I have been going there. We will have a briefing with all the captains before. So, there is no chance that we will be going into Guatemalan waters.”