The Belize Territorial Volunteers in conjunction with the Northern Territorial Volunteers are moving full steam ahead with the Sarstoon Island Rally that is scheduled for this Sunday August 16th, heedless to the many warnings from the diplomatic core and officials from the National Security. Wil Maheia from the BTV and Orlando De La Fuenta from NTV have been at the fore of this fight against the ICJ. Both of them will be leading delegations to the Sarstoon Island this coming Sunday. They stopped by our studies earlier today to speak about the planned visit to the controversial island.
“Definitely over a hundred people have expressed that they are going. If anybody wants to go, we are trying to get as much boats as possible. We will also be ferrying some people, so get to Baranco on Sunday by 9:00 and we will guarantee that you will have a seat on the boat because we are adding extra boats as we speak.
Orlando De La Fuente – President NTV
“We are calling on the whole country to come out and support the expedition. The response in the north has always been good and we expect to take at least one full bus – at least 60 people from the north. Our bus leaves at 12 mid night and we hope to get to PG by 6 in the morning. We are going to get a chance to use the bathroom, stretch our legs, eat something and immediately after we are going to head to Baranco village. We hope to depart Barcanco Village by 9:30. We have a list of activities that we want to do at Sartsoon Island.”
In an interview with Plus TV on Friday, the Belize Defence Force Commander Brigadier General David Jones, greatly discouraged the organizers from following through with the planned rally saying and we quote, “because it’s a territorial dispute between both countries and it’s better that issue is handled diplomatically.”Here is how BTV’s Wil Maheia responded to those comments.
“ The Startoon island has always been a part of Belize. there was never once where we seeded any part of the Starstoon island. We find it ridiculous for the Commandant of the BDF to tell us that it is an unsafe place to go. We will not put Belizeans life in danger, at no point will we put their life in danger. It is going to be safe, we have done this trip many times before. We went there two years ago, we had a run in with the Guatemalans, it was peaceful, we talked to them and they talk to us. They came into our territory, we did not go into Guatemala. This is how we expect it to be this weekend. We expect it to be peaceful. No body from our group is taking any kind of arms. It is going to be a peaceful gathering at Startoon Island which belongs to Belize.”
The Organizers and quote “Border Champions” also commented on the recent events leading up to the Guatemalan Foreign Minister’s blunder which further incensed the Belizean people.
“I believe that Guatemala is doing its bullying tactics and it is finding Belize’s government being very weak – the foreign minister is very weak, nobody seems to challenge them. The part about building military bases, they built there military base on the mouth of the Startsoon after 2000. When they say that there was an agreement not to build a military base, they build military base. They continue to build in the so called agency zone. It is only Belize that continues to appease Guatemala and show signs of weakness.”
Orlando De La Fuente
“Ever since Independence, Belize’s position has eroded and we have now given credence to Guatemala’s claim. There are several decisions that the consecutive governments took, whether PUP or UDP, that we believe have not been in the best interest of Belize. They have not solidified Belize’s territorial integrity. As a matter of fact, now they claim is at the forefront. We have validated the claim, we have given it credence and have given it importance. Now we have this monkey on our back and we have to figure out what we are going to do. Before things get worst and we commit farther blunders, we want the government to reassess the position and the policy.”
“And we thank all the volunteers and all the people of Belize who encourage us to do what we do. I can assure Belizeans that we are going there, we are going there for a peaceful gathering and we hope to have a great time this coming sunday.”
Organizers say they have written to Ministries of Foreign Affairs and national Security to provide them with an escort but they have received no response. Nevertheless, boats are to leave the pier at Baranco, Toledo at 9 am and make their way to the Sarstoon Island where the peaceful rally will be held.