As PlusNews reported before, the Government of Belize passed a Statutory Instrument to prevent The Belize Territorial Volunteers from accessing the Sarstoon. Some in the public believe the SI to be dictatorial while others find it to be necessary, but it is interesting to note that even among Territorial Volunteers, there exists differences of opinion on the SI itself. While Wil Mehia is the leader of the BTV and continues to denounce the legislation preventing access to the Sarstoon, his fellow supporter and a leader of the Northern Territorial Volunteers, Orlando De la Fuente, says that after the latest Prime Ministerial Press conference, he now supports the legislation.
Geovannie De La Fuente, Leader of the NTV: After I saw the press conference last night by the Prime Minister, I started thinking and I had a change of heart. I thought maybe the Statutory Instrument was good and I said to myself if the Prime Minister will not renew it after a month and he may even revoke it within the month or less than a month if he sees no progress in negotiations with Guatemala, maybe it was a clever move on the part of the Prime Minister because what happens is that it gives diplomacy a chance to work, it gives the Belize government a chance to negotiate and create a protocol and if it doesn’t, there’s a lot of pressure on Guatemala because if he does not stop us now, and we go, what Guatemala a do? Guatemala a shoot we civilians who di go inna boat, civilians unarmed with a white flag? Just di navigate wah island? So the Prime Minister has done two things, he has shown that Belize is a peaceful country, that we do want peace and that we want to negotiate into the dispute. He has placed a tremendous amount of pressure on Guatemala now because when he says he will not stop the BTV from traversing Sarstoon island or entering the area again, what will Guatemala do? In the eyes of the National community, regionally, what will Guatemala do? So I think that it was a good thing and I had a change of heart. We can’t only think between BTV and GOB. We have to think that the region and the world can help us solve the problem, and regionally I think that he made a good decision and a clever decision to institute the Statutory Instrument.
For Wil Mehia however, as the Leader of the Belize Territorial Volunteers and the founder of the Movement to bring awareness to the Guatemalan encroachment on Belize’s territory, Mehia says he is strongly against any SI or other legislation that will prevent Belizeans from going into any area under the sovereignty of Belize to show patriotism
Wil Maheia, Leader of the BTV: Yes I believe that the SI is wrong, because there is no way that we should restrict the movement of Belizeans, you are in charge of this country. It’s like you are in charge of this building right here and now you are going to restrict the people who have rights to the building from certain parts of the building. I think it’s wrong. Now I call on all Belizeans to join forces, and when I say join forces, let’s get together to ask them to resign this SI. One of the reasons why we are so active in the border area is because our government, with all the diplomacy that’s happening, we are still losing forest in the Chiqibul, Guatemalan fishermen are still fishing and when I’m saying they’re still fishing, unsustainably, I mean raking and scraping. In fact when the Prime Minister was in New York, it was to sign another agreement, this climate change agreement that we will be doing the right thing, yet we have Guatemala’s cutting down our reefers. Isn’t that what we were doing in New York? Helping to make this world a better place by keeping the lungs of Belize breathing. If we don’t have the Chiqibul or the Sarstoon Temash or anything like that we can’t breathe.
Mehia also says that he applauds the decision of the People’s United Party to challenge the Sarstoon Legislation in courts and he is prepared, if they ask him, to travel with the Political party to the Sarstoon.
Wil Maheia, Leader of the BTV: I’ll applaud the PUP here for taking a stance to go to the Sarstoon and I hope that all the other unions, and church associations and nurses associations and civil society groups, and especially, I’m calling out the environmental NGO’s here, as you know I come from the environmental field, but the environmental NGO’s , APAMO and these crowds. You notice that a lot of them are quiet because they are afraid that PACT sanctions them and gives them no grant for speaking up, and I’m not afraid to say that, but these are the times that they need to stand up for these protected area.