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Government Issues Warning Against Clearing of Belize/Guatemala Border

Since last week, media houses in the city have been reporting about Mr. Will Maheia and his group called the Belize Territorial Volunteers who have set the date, Saturday, March 2, 2013, to begin a project called “Clearing Our Borderline.”

Media houses reported that a release from Maheia sent earlier last week says quote, “Over the past 30 years our borders have been neglected and as a result, several incursions have occurred into our beautiful, sovereign country. Guatemalans have come into the villages and pillaged people’s farms and stolen their horses.” It adds, “Our mission is simple, we exist to educate our people as to the reality of our Western border and to maintain a watchful eye, to ensure that Belize’s territorial sovereignty is never called into question.”

It was with this in mind that the Government of Belize issued the following press release issuing a warning against the clearing of the Belize/Guatemala Border line:

Belmopan, 25th February, 2013 – The Government of Belize, in discharge of its duty to ensure the safety and security of all persons in our country, hereby advises all members of the public that any attempt on their part to clear the Western Border can give rise to serious danger to themselves and we therefore strongly advise against participation in any such action.

Proposed efforts as reported in the media may conduce to a disturbance of the peace and to unnecessary tensions between two countries, contrary to the long-standing efforts that successive Belize Governments have been working hard to secure.

The danger inherent in such action can readily be seen from the details of a press conference which was called by then Prime Minister Said Musa on 26th February, 2000. Instructive excerpts of that speech are now reproduced in this release, and we quote:

“We call this press conference today to provide you with the facts as we know them surrounding an incident that occurred on Thursday morning (February 24, 2000) in an area of Belizean territory near our Belizean Defence Force border posts at Treetops, south southwest of Jalacte Village in the Toledo District.

Our information is that joint BDF/Police border team, comprising Second Lieutenant Romaldo Herrera, Lance Corporal Lucio Arana, Private Luciano Tzub and Police Constable Macedonio Sanchez, were on a routine patrol along a route used by our security forces well within Belizean territory when they encountered a group of about 25 uniformed Guatemalan military personnel.

The BDF/Police team established itself to be within Belizean territory, but the Guatemalan patrol disputed this. In an effort to prevent an incident, the BDF/Police team agreed to move to the Guatemalan post of Santa Cruz along with the Guatemalan patrol to await the arrival of senior officers from both sides to verify the location of the encounter.

On their arrival at Santa Cruz, the BDF/Police team was transferred to San Luis and placed into the custody of the police where they were informed that they would be charged with illegal entry and possession of prohibited firearms. They were later moved to Santa Elena where there is a district court to await the arrival of a magistrate. They have since been detained in Santa Elena awaiting trial.”…

I rely on the discretion and good will of the Guatemalan Government, and the support of the international community, to resolve this matter peacefully through diplomatic means, so that Lt. Herrera, Lance Corporal Arana, Private Tzib and Constable Sanchez can return home as soon as possible. Our two nations can then continue to build bridges of friendship, understanding and peaceful co-existence, with mutual respect.

I also make an open call on all parties at home to resist the temptation to try and use the Guatemalan issue to divide our people. This is a matter that affects the national interest of Belize and we must all remain firm and united in defense of Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” (End of excerpt)

Under the Confidence Building Measures of September 2005 signed by Belize, Guatemala and the OAS, the parties are committed to avoid conflicts or incidents on the ground conducive to tension between them. The Government of Belize reiterates the call for all Belizeans to refrain from using the Guatemala issue to cause tensions and to divide our people.

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