Prime Minister Dean Barrow recently shrugged off reporters asking him about his reported order to extract Belize National Coast Guard personnel from Sarstoon Island near the southern border with Guatemala after an apparent stand-off with Guatemalan Coast Guard personnel. Other officials have indicated that the Coast Guard were on a reconnaissance mission for a planned outpost in the area and having completed that, they exited. Today Minister of Immigration and Nationality Senator Godwin Hulse maintained that view and dismissed reports suggesting that some personnel consider the mission failed and other reports that Belizeans are now afraid to go into the area.
“My understanding is that the island that the forward base – it was a recognisance visit to see where we could put a forward base. My understanding is that a forward base will still be placed in the Sarstoon.”
“Sir my understanding is that there was an extraction ordered by the prime minister and I spoke to one of the person who was there and they were saying they classified it as a failed mission.”
Hon. Godwin Hulse
“That’s not my understanding at all and I can’t comment anymore because I haven’t heard that – not even in the cabinet.”
“Is it a concern because I went to Sarstoon island a couple days after that and the people in Punta Gorda are saying that they are afraid now to go into that area even though it is known as Belizean territory. I’m talking the tour operators, the fishermen.”
Hon. Godwin Hulse
“They have to make that expressively known because my understanding is the coast guard continues to patrol the area and I can’t comment anymore from what I have been told. I am not responsible for the ministry and I haven’t been down there. But that is what I have been told and I go by the reports that we have.”
The Coast Guard is reportedly planning to return to the area, which is considered Belizean territory.