Tensions remain high between Guatemala and Belize

Tensions remain at an all time high between Guatemala and Belize as during the course of yesterday, The Guatemalan Armed Force made their vlcsnap-2016-04-25-10h42m18s053way to the Sarstoon to “exercise Sovereignty” and to border areas of the adjacency zone to stop any further “abuse” by BDF against Guatemalan people.. Those are some of the words used by Guatemalan President Morales in his 3 minute message aired in Guatemala following the shooting death of a teenaged poacher in Belizean territory by the BDF. That shooting incident happened on Wednesday night at about 7 p.m. when BDF and Friends for Conservation rangers were on   patrol in the Cebada area of the Chiquibul Forest and came under fire. The BDF returned fire and a number of Guatemalans ranoff into the bush leaving behind a wounded 13 year old. That minor died as a result of the injuries he received. After Morales issued his statements regarding that incident, vlcsnap-2016-04-25-10h42m05s877the Prime Minister responded with a tpress statement which says that

“ The Office of the Prime Minister rejects the version of events in the statement by President Jimmy Morales made to the Guatemalan public on 21st April, 2016 regarding the incident in Belize’s Cebada area of the Chiquibul National Park. Belize has a long history and tradition as a peace loving country, respectful of international law, human rights, and with a strong democratic culture where the rule of law has always prevailed. The Government and people of Belize always abide by these strong and unshakeable traditions.  Accordingly, Belizean Security Forces and law enforcement officials would never perpetrate an armed attack on civilians especially minors except in exercise of the right to self defence.  The Government of Belize reiterates that the mandate and authority given to Belize law enforcement and security agencies to enforce Belizean laws and protect Belize’s natural resources and territorial integrity is at all times implemented on the basis of recourse to the use of force only as a last and justified resort. But respect for life and rights must always include respect for the life and rights of Belizean law enforcement officials and security forces. In this case the BDF reports of the incident indicate that our patrol in Belizean national territory vlcsnap-2016-04-25-10h42m15s710came under attack to which they responded in justifiable self-defence.  It is to be pointed out that the patrol included civilian personnel from the NGO group, FCD, and those personnel confirm the fact that our patrol simply responded after they were fired upon and were in fear for their lives.  This latest shooting attack on Belizean officials is part of a continued pattern of aggression by Guatemalan civilians engaged in illegal activities on Belize’s side of the Adjacency Zone.  In this regard, the Office of the Prime Minister recollects the earlier attacks which resulted in the murder of Special Constable Danny Conorquie and the shooting of Sgt. Richard Lambey.

The press release also  says that

“… we find the statements made and position taken by President Morales to be unhelpful and inflammatory. The current amassing of Guatemalan troops in the border areas, including the Sarstoon River, only adds volatility to the tensions already created by illicit activities in these areas. For its part, the Government of Belize will continue to abide strictly by the Confidence Buildingvlcsnap-2016-04-25-10h42m08s952

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