Government Announces Limited Access to Sarstoon

This afternoon, GOB issued a statement saying it rejects the demand made by the People’s United Party for the immediate rescission of the vlcsnap-2016-05-10-11h04m55s545Sarstoon Prohibition Regulation. Even so, GOB has softened its position on the Statutory instrument which restricted Belizeans from traversing the Sarstoon for a period of one month. Today, Government announced that it feels it has made some headway in its objective to see diplomacy work. The release says,

We felt confident that Guatemala would be obliged, under the confidence building measures, to change its stance and negotiate with us over the Sarstoon on the basis of respect for our rights. We believe that we have now obtained objective 2, and we expect formal bilateral negotiations, in which we invite the Opposition to participate as equal partners, to start shortly. As a result, we also believe that the military tensions regarding the Sarstoon are no longer as explosive as they were when we passed the Regulation. But until the negotiations actually begin, we are not comfortable enough to conclude that all danger has been eliminated regarding large-scale, civilian political expeditions to the Sarstoon. We are satisfied, though, thatvlcsnap-2016-05-10-11h05m06s084 in view of the progress already made we can operationalize the stance we took at the press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Therefore, all non-political, legitimate Belizean civilian traffic into the restricted area will immediately be given lawful authority, under the Regulation, to proceed. The only requirement for this is that they check in at our Sarstoon Forward Operating Base (FOB) so that our military can confirm the legitimate nature of their use of the river. “

The press release also says that while there will be no immediate rescission of the Regulation, GOB reserves the right to repeal it before it expires if no sufficient further progress is made with the bilateral Belize/Guatemala diplomatic engagementvlcsnap-2016-05-10-11h05m18s286

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