Prime Minister Barrow Addresses Heightened Border Tension
Apr 22, 2016
There is an escalating crisis between Belize and Guatemala that is reaching tipping point. In recent days, Guatemala has adopted an aggressive stand against Belize especially in the Sarstoon where Belizean vessels are now required to get their permission to enter the Sarstoon. The death of a minor near Cebada in the Chiquibul on Wednesday has placed matters on the brink between the two countries. The Guatemalan president on Thursday announced the massing of troops in the Sarstoon and the Adjacency Zone and has recalled its Ambassador to Belize. There has been sluggish response from Belize until today. The situation is fluid and we start with a telephone recording released just before six o’clock by Prime Minister Dean Barrow who is in New York at this time for the signing of the Paris Agreement. He has met with President Morales in the margins of the conference.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“We are extremely concerned that the measures announced by president Morales will serve has served to escalate tension to an utterly unacceptable degree. Accordingly I have today met with president Morales in the margin of the UN Climate Change Signing Ceremony. I have indicated to President Morales that the position taken by him and the government cannot conduce the peace and that there is an immediate need to de-escalate tensions. I have confirmed that as is usual in cases of this nature, the O.A.S. will conduct an impartial investigation, inquiry into what has happened. We will also, as we have done on a previous occasion, seek the assistance of the United States, asking them to deploy a number of forensic experts to help with the reconstruction of the incident. I have made clear to the president that while we have nothing to hide and therefore are happy to insist on this inquiry, pending the result of that exercise, Belize maintains its position which is that our soldiers came under attack or fired upon and that what happened was as a consequence of their returning fire in an effort to defend themselves. While I cannot pretend that the government of Guatemala is other than insistent that their version of the events is correct and while they continue to say that in their view the B.D.F. murdered this minor, we reiterated that there cannot be that kind of a rush to judgment especially in view of our conviction that the B.D.F. was exercising its right to self-defense.”