The People’s United Party expresses its strongest condemnation of the actions of the Guatemalan Armed Forces and the inaction of the Government of Belize following the blatant harassment of Belizeans within our territorial waters this weekend.

We have been informed and presented with video evidence which clearly shows that at least four Guatemalan gunboats with armed personnel entered and remained within our waters at the Sarstoon as Belizeans participated in the 2nd Annual Sarstoon Island Eco-Challenge organized by the Belize Territorial Volunteers. The GAF clearly executed manoeuvres designed to intimidate paddlers in their kayaks and organizers/service personnel in vessels. We are also informed that the GAF turned back one of the vessels and did not allow it to approach Sarstoon Island.

Guatemalans stationed at the Sarstoon have maintained operational control of the entire Sarstoon River, and the Government of Belize through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has committed a gross error in allowing this to happen. On various occasions SATIIM rangers have been turned back from routine patrols of the Sarstoon Temash National Park, and we know that the media has also met with Guatemalan aggression multiple times.

Our government has not taken a strong, unequivocal stance to support our territorial sovereignty over half of the Sarstoon including the Sarstoon Island. During these occasions of Guatemalans aggressing Belizeans, our military has never intervened, due to instructions coming from our Government leaders. Over this past weekend, as GAF vessels operated just in front of the BDF base at the Sarstoon, there was no movement from the BDF to assert our sovereignty or to protect Belizean lives.

The PUP calls on Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington to ACT NOW to protect our territorial integrity. If they will not act, we call on them to tell the Belizean people how we lost the Sarstoon which we sing about in our National Anthem. As we prepare to celebrate our Independence, the people deserve to know the truth.