The rapid incursion of Guatemalans into Belizean territory has been escalating and continues to be a huge problem to the Belizean people and to our security forces. The Belizean people especially the rural villagers have been affected by this because these Guatemalans are entering our territory armed. Villagers feared for their lives and property and feel threaten by the growing problematic crisis. I asked myself when will this all come to an end? When will Guatemalans start respecting our territory and our natural resources? If my memory serves me well I recalled two incidents occurred late July and early August of 2012. The first incident that occurred in late July was that of Guatemalans panning and stealing Belize’s gold in the Chiquibul Forest Area. According to the Amandala Newspaper dated Sunday, July 29, 2012 stated that about 300 Guatemalans including young girls were caught red handed extracting gold from the Chiquibul national park. The other incident in August founded bales of Xate which is estimated to have worth a significant sum of monies in Guatemala. However, one must not forget the constant illegal logging and disregard for our sovereign borders that also continues to be an eye sore for us Belizeans.
The incursions into Belize territory by the Guatemalans have made it to the news more frequently than before. All of this has been happening and not much has been done by our security forces until recently. I am not condemning the present Government, but I believe more should have been done and strict and enforceable measures ought to have been in place in the initial incident. It’s clearly to be seen that because Belize has not been addressing these issues seriously on the front line, this however had caused history in repeating itself with now dire consequences. The most recent incident that involves a Guatemalan been shot and killed while in Belize’s territory has caused Belize to once again be under constraints of mending border and diplomatic relationship. Belize’s Foreign Minister Mr. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington has been under heavy scrutiny for the recent developments and actions taken in resolving the recent incident. It’s now more obvious that Belize is going through major diplomatic crisis with Guatemala, notwithstanding the consequential effects of the local pressure groups that have opposed the present decisions made in alleviating the now tensed Belize-Guatemala border situation on both sides of the border.
As a young Belizean, I fully support and endorsed the proposal for the compensation or “act of compassion” to be given to the family of the deceased Guatemalan man killed while illegally panning for gold inside Belize’s territory. I believe it is only humane to do such thing; however, the same if an unfortunate inside involving a Belizean(s) in Guatemala. This should be further discussed and allowed by both governments if such an incident should arise. Furthermore, we can no longer just sit here and watch our government take it easy while our natural resources are being exploited and most of all our security forces putting their lives in danger. Often times when our soldiers are being attacked by the Xateros they are outnumbered by these Xateros. Our security forces namely the BDF ought to be increased in numbers and have a more vigilant presence at our borders. If our government needs to invest and spend more on our security forces then that should be prioritize and implemented. It’s a call for the present government in first making this leap and ensuring ALL Belizeans are safe and need not to worry of any possible repercussions.
- Submitted by Evalee Duncan, UB Student
(Evalee Duncan is presently pursuing her Bachelor Degree in Business Management at UB Belize City campus. As part of her project for Public Administration and policy class she was required to write on any pressing issue about Belize and have it published in a newspaper.)