Friday, May 26, 2017. Guatemala’s aggression at the Sarstoon over its unfounded claim to Belizean territory has slipped from the national headlines.
But that does not mean that the threat is over or that the aggression has stopped.
Guatemalan fishermen continue to violate Belize’s maritime space in the south and conduct illegal fishing activities, oftentimes within clear view of the Belizean military at the Forward Operating base.
A check of the PGTV archives show that a significant historical anniversary is approaching.
It was on Thursday, May 28, 2015 that the Guatemalan military initiated a series of aggression on the Belize National Coast Guard.
Belizean officers of the Coast Guard were on routine duties on Sarstoon Island, when they were aggressed by the Guatemalan navy which entered Belize’s territorial waters, pretending to be investigating what our Coast Guard officers were doing, clearly in Belizean territory.
When the Coast Guard officers stated the obvious, that the Guatemalans were clearly out of bounds, the naval patrol retreated to their side of the Sarstoon River. But that retreat was short-lived, as they returned later the same day.
This time the Guatemalans came with a message: that the Belizean Coast Guard officers should leave the area to avoid trouble.
But the Belizean officers stood their ground and the Guatemalans had to again leave, without accomplishing their goal of dislodging the Belizeans.
This encounter two years ago marked a significant increase in Guatemala’s aggression at the Sarstoon, and despite diplomatic notes of protest and high level meetings between Belize and Guatemala, the situation remains unresolved.
PGTV notes that the Belize National Coast Guard officers are not the only ones to find themselves in a confrontation with the Guatemalans.
Members of Belize Territorial Volunteers, the Northern Territorial Volunteers and rangers from the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, SATIIM, have all been confronted by hostile Guatemalan military at the Sarstoon.