• Paco Smith | Chairman | BPP

Letter: Guatemala's increasingly aggressive advances on Belize and dearth of regional coverage

Originally published here: Caribbean News Now!

Dear Sir: On 12th March 2016, Belizean soldiers stationed at the current construction site of the Belize Defence Force’s impending Forward Operating Base, near the mouth of the Sarstoon River (which is the southern boundary marking Belize's border with Guatemala), were accosted by elements of the Guatemalan Armed Forces (GAF) -http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=35636&frmsrch=1 Amid the heightened tensions which have derived from the ever-increasing aggressive actions of the Guatemalan military, who have made it common practice to illegally enter Belize's territorial waters, I am completely taken aback to see that to-date, virtually no mention of this act of aggression, by Guatemala, has gained specific mention via the regional news outlets. Indeed the various mediums are vast and, within certain respects, I stand to be corrected, but I find this quite peculiar. I understand that media houses such as yours are dependent on receiving this manner of information, for forward dissemination. Hence my penning and submission of this correspondence. On the same token, though, I wish to uncover whether Caribbean News Now has received anything from Belize's local media houses. I am quite interested because given the current climate of corruption that is not only characteristic of the current government of Belize (GOB), but is also now par for the course involving the manner in which things are done, in my nation, I am wondering whether the local media houses have refrained from supplying information to the wider region, for fear of reprisal. My interest is further piqued because last Saturday's incident is but the latest of numerous, illegal acts that have been perpetrated by the Guatemalan government despite or shall I say, due to the ineffectiveness of the OAS, in its handling of Guatemala's unfounded claim to Belize's sovereign territory. As you may recall, in 2008, both Belize and Guatemala signed the once, much vaunted, Compromis that has since proven the most egregious and short-sighted moves by the GOB, in terms of maintaining Belize's territorial integrity. Over the past eight years it, along with the supposed Confidence Building Measures, under the aegis of the OAS have served only to build the confidence of Guatemala, insofar as their unfounded claim is concerned. During that period a litany of offences against Belize's sovereign status have been perpetrated by the Guatemalans, with the complicit impotence of the Dean Barrow administration, as well as the ever so non-efficacious assistance of the OAS, which has seen a Belize law enforcement officer murdered on Belizean soil, reportedly by elements hailing from Guatemala, to the point of the GAF entering Belize's territorial waters and summarily forbidding Belizean civilians from traversing the Sarstoon River on 27th February 2016 -http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/125839 Following these illegal actions, earlier this week delegations from both countries met at the OAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. According to the GOB, this meeting was previously scheduled. Nonetheless, and rightfully so, much to the chagrin of most Belizeans, our representatives once again, failed to ensure that Guatemala's most recent act of aggression featured prominently on the agenda -http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/126569 Instead, as with each incident, Belize's Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent off a powder-puff "Diplomatic Note" which quite ironically always serves as the best defence in favour of any excuse or rendition Guatemala chooses to conjure up. To demonstrate the extent to which the corruption has imbued the current government administration, regarding the incident in which Belizean civilians were turned back from navigating our waters, no less than the Prime Minister of Belize, went on record seeking to blame the Belize Territorial Volunteers (BTV) for factoring into a "cause and effect" equation, which in his opinion, aroused the Guatemalan Armed Forces, to act in such manner - http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=35638&frmsrch=1 This, of course, is not only absurd, it is also a very blatant lie by a disingenuous individual, in light of the fact the Belize Defence Force (BDF) has documented incidences of aggression toward them, by the GAF, dating back as far as ten years! -http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=35672&frmsrch=1 With that, the inexcusable, willful negligence of the powers that be, are front and centre, for all who are willing to see. Not to be lost amid the quagmire of incompetence that is the hallmark of the bi-partisan "4A Policy" of: APPEASEMENT, ACQUIESCENCE, ACCOMMODATION and ADHERENCE to Guatemala's intransigence, is the fact that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition remains lockstep with the current administration in their bi-partisan effort to take the matter of Guatemala's unfounded claim to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This, matter alone, requires its own analysis and rest assured, one shall be forthcoming. Yet in this instance, I shall simply say that the lack of full-disclosure being demonstrated by both the GOB, in cahoots with the Opposition is hardly palatable, for their skewed logic and nefarious dealings only serve to handicap the people of Belize, insofar as becoming attuned to the range of options available to effectively address this matter of national significance. Unfortunately, both the PUP and UDP are more interested in pigeon-holing the Belizean electorate into believing their nonsensical view to take the matter to the ICJ, is the only available avenue -http://www.7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=35678 Hence, instead of seeking the best alternative through which Belize can most prudently and with the least risk to our territorial integrity, move forward, they persist with their myopic viewpoint. As with most things in which corrupt individuals are engaged, this is no exception in that instead of focusing on the task at hand, the authorities remain more interested in securing funds to ensure the OAS Office in the so-called Adjacency Zone remains open. Mind you, this is the very same office that witnesses, the illegal: incursions, settling and poaching by Guatemalans in Belize's territory and sits idly by. Bearing this in mind, the current scenario is all-too-reminiscent of the old adage which espouses that "money is the root of all evil." With that said, I wish to return to my initial question, as to whether some sort of media blackout has somehow been effected by the media houses in Belize, concerning this matter of national security. Given the gravity of the occurrences since 27th February 2016, one would think the regional news wire would be abuzz with information concerning the real-existential, ongoing and escalating threat which Guatemala poses to Belize's national security. Yet, to my knowledge as of 19th March 2016 very little, if anything, has been uttered and that which has emerged on the regional scene derived from CARICOM. Meanwhile the essential perspective deriving from on the ground, in Belize, appears virtually non-existent. Therefore, I trust the media houses in Belize shall make a concerted effort to ensure that outlets such as yours, as well as Caribbean Newsline and others, are made abreast of the most up-to-date goings-on in Belize. After all, our territorial integrity is being outrightly threatened and most unfortunately, a significant allay of the usurpers is, none other than those who Belizeans elected to make certain our nation’s well-being is fulfilled and maintained -http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/126608 It has been said that politics makes for strange bedfellows and given this morass, I dare say, that perception holds true. 8867 Today, 8867 Tomorrow, 8867 Forever Belize Sovereign and Free - NO ICJ! Frank Edward Paco Smith, Jr. (JP) Chairman - Belize Progressive Party (BPP) -www.belizeprogressiveparty.org Member - Belize Territorial Volunteers

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